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September 19th, 2016

Steel Cut Oats and Yogurt Make a Perfect Pair

Steel Cut Oats and Yogurt Make a Perfect Pair

While on vacation this summer I spent an afternoon shopping in a quaint Maine town. In one of the shops, I discovered an entire aisle filled with Bob’s Red Mill products. After checking out everything I walked away with a bag filled with Bob’s Red Mill organic, gluten free oats. I knew this would not go to waste since Oatmeal has always been a staple in my house.

Steel cut oats are my favorite type of oatmeal. They are also sometimes called “Irish Oatmeal” and “Pinhead Oats”. Steel cut oats are oat groats cut into several pieces. This type of oatmeal is the least processed and as a result, it takes longer than regular oatmeal to cook. Well worth the wait.

I’ve started making steel cut oats in my slow cooker so I don’t lose any time on those rushed mornings (every morning!).

Bob’s Red Mill Organic Steel Cut Oats and Stonyfield

Steel Cut Oats and Yogurt Make a Perfect Pair

Now back to Bob’s Red Mill. This company has an endless supply of grains, some organic and some not and all of their products are GMO-free and there are plenty of gluten-free options. Bob’s Red Mill Organic Steel Cut Oats are top notch. When paired with a little Stonyfield yogurt you have an instant breakfast of champions.

Steel Cut Oats and Yogurt Make a Perfect Pair @Stonyfield @BobsRedMill #stonyfieldblogger Click To Tweet

Some people like to add a bit of sugar to their oatmeal. Rather than reaching for processed sugar, why not try adding Bobs Red Mill Organic Coconut Sugar? Coconut sugar has a similar flavor to brown sugar and isn’t quite as processed. But sugar is sugar and it’s important to use moderation. I like my oatmeal straight up without any sweetener. Adding fruit, nuts, cinnamon or raisins works for me and is a great way to change up the texture and flavor.

Here’s my favorite slow cooker oatmeal recipe. It’s incredibly simple!

Recipe for slow cooked steel cut oatmeal

Combine 4 cups water, 1 cup organic steel cut oats and 1/2 tsp. salt in a slow cooker. Cover with lid and cook on low for 7-8 hours or overnight. Add your favorite dried fruit, cinnamon, nuts, raisins or yogurt. Makes 4 servings.

What do you add to your oatmeal?  

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 Disclosure:  I’m a Stonyfield YoGetter Captain and I do receive compensation.  Stonyfield partnered with Bob’s Red Mill for this post and I was sent a bag of steel cut oats and coconut sugar for review. All opinions are, of course, my own. Some links are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may get a small commission if you make a purchase. Thanks!
March 18th, 2016

Grassfed Yogurt: What Are The Health Benefits?

Grassfed Yogurt Health Benefits Groovy Green Livin

Have you noticed that there seem to be more and more products with a “grassfed” label?  And it’s not just beef boasting the label, dairy products from milk to yogurt are also prominently displaying a “100% grassfed” label.

Eager to learn more about this new addition to our labeling system, I had a chance to hear from Tim Joseph, the founder of Maple Hill Creamry and the supplier of the milk for all of Stonyfield’s “100% Grassfed” products.  Stonyfield just launched their 100% Grassfed yogurt in four delicious flavors (vanilla, plain, blueberry and strawberry). I know because I had a chance to sample each.

Part of my job as a Stonyfield YoGetter  is sharing with you new and exciting products as they make their way onto the shelves in the supermarket.  Early this morning I made a quick trip to our local Whole Foods Market and was excited to find Stonyfield Organic 100% Grassfed yogurt already on the shelves.

What is 100% Grassfed?

Healthy cows are happy cows! Cows have been eating grass forever. When we’re talking about true 100% grassfed products, they come from cows who have grazed in pasture year-round rather than being fed a processed diet for much of their life. Without going into too much detail, grass-based dairy farms are efficient, sustainable farming systems free of many of the resource consuming practices of large-scale conventional and organic dairy farms. Organic, grass fed dairy cows are healthier and live about twice as long as conventionally fed cows.

An interesting and confusing piece of the grass fed label is that “grassfed” is NOT a regulated term by the government on dairy products. However, it is regulated when found on beef products. If a product is labeled organic the USDA organic standards require only 30% of a cow’s diet to come from eating in a pasture and the remaining 70% of their diet can be from corn, soy or other fillers.

Benefits of 100% Organic Grassfed

There are so many benefits to eating products made from milk from a grass fed organic cow.

  • Milk that comes from 100% grass fed cows has a more flavorful fatty acid profile than from milk from conventionally fed cows. It is higher in omega-3 fatty acids and lower in omega-6 fatty acids (a healthier combination).
  • There are no GMOs, synthetic pesticides and herbicides used in organic cow feed or pastures.
  • No use of artificial growth (rBGH)hormones.

Stonyfield 100% Grassfed Organic Yogurt

Grassfed Yogurt: What Are the Health Benefits? Groovy Green Livin

The Stonyfield Maple Hill Creamery team sets joined forces to set a new standard with the creation of Stonyfield 100% Grassfed Organic Yogurt. If you look closely at the yogurt container you’ll see a PCO seal, which means that a third-party verified that the milk used to make the yogurt comes from 100% grass fed cows. The purpose behind this new label is to create traceability and integrity around the grass fed claim.

Stonyfield’s 100% Grassfed yogurt comes in four delicious flavors (vanilla, plain, blueberry and strawberry). I loved the vanilla, as I do with most types of yogurt. It was exceptionally creamy and had a light vanilla flavor. The strawberry and blueberry required a quick stir to mix in the fruit from the bottom. This yogurt is not a low-fat option since it’s made with whole milk. Overall my family gave the yogurt a big thumbs up as a special treat.

Have you tried Stonyfield’s 100% Grassfed yogurt? I would love to know what you think and if you’re able to find it at your local market.

P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy our Groovy Green Livin NewsletterReceive new posts and special opportunities delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.

Disclosure: I’m a brand ambassador for Stonyfield Organics. I am compensated and receive product samples. All opinions are always my own. 

photo credit: Blueberries & Greek Yogurt via photopin (license)

November 17th, 2015

Turkey Tips: Should I Buy an Organic Turkey?

Turkey Tips Should I Buy An Organic Turkey Groovy Green Livin

We have wild turkeys living in our neighborhood. They are here year round and quite frequently decide to saunter across the street as I’m pulling out of my driveway. We generally sit in the car and watch them as they make their way to safety. They are magnificent creatures, with a wing span sometimes up to almost 5 feet. I always chuckle this time of year and wonder why they’re not in hiding with Thanksgiving right around the corner. I’m sure deep down they are very grateful that their relatives, the domesticated turkeys, are the turkeys who end up on many of our holiday tables.

Turkey Tips: Should I Buy An Organic Turkey? Groovy Green Livin

What is an organic turkey?

This year I’ve noticed more organic turkey options at a few of the local markets in the Boston area. It’s nice to see a variety of options available. Turkeys certified organic by the USDA are raised without antibiotics and growth enhancers.

Here are a few of the key requirements for organic poultry:

  • Must be raised organically on certified organic land
  • Must be fed certified organic feed. The feed cannot contain animal by-products, antibiotics or genetically engineered grains and cannot be grown using persistent pesticides or chemical fertilizers.
  • No antibiotics or added growth hormones are allowed*
  • Must have outdoor access

*Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones in raising pork and poultry.

Why buy an organic turkey?

Choosing organic foods when we can is a simple way to impact our own personal health and the health of our planet. Organic turkey is certified to be free of harmful chemicals, antibiotics, hormones and GMOs (which could be in the feed of conventional turkeys)-all things that we don’t want to unnecessarily put into our bodies. Buying an organic turkey can be expensive, so it’s understandably a personal choice.

Where to buy an organic turkey

It’s hard to believe, but you can purchase an organic turkey online! Check out this Whole Organic Turkey 12-14lbs from Wisconsin (I grew up in Wisconsin so it must be delicious!):

Whole Organic Turkey, pasture-fed, Wisconsin raised. These are ‘Happy, Outside Turkeys!’ All meat, no water added; you get what you pay for. Leftovers make great soup, sandwiches, & hot dishes.”

If you don’t have any local farms or markets selling organic turkey then buying online might work for you. Depending upon where you live, there seem to be plenty of local supermarkets and farms catering to the organic turkey demand.

Are you planning to eat organic turkey this Thanksgiving?

P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy our Groovy Green Livin NewsletterReceive new posts and special opportunities delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.

photo credit: Wild Turkey Trot via photopin (license), Grilled Thanksgiving Turkey via photopin (license)

September 30th, 2015

Introducing Stonyfield Organic Fruit Snacks

Stonyfield Organic Fruit Snacks Groovy Green Livin

I’m honored to work closely with Stonyfield as a brand ambassador. Part of my job is to share with you new products as they’re about to  hit the shelves in your grocery store. Enjoy!

Stonyfield is venturing beyond the dairy aisle and now makes organic fruit snacks! Their new organic fruit snacks are just making their way onto store shelves. I was lucky enough to have several samples sent my way to try out.

Introducing Stonyfield Organic Fruit Snacks Groovy Green Livin

They come in two flavors: Mixed Berry and Strawberry and they’re shaped like little cows!

These new organic fruit snacks are made with real fruit and vegetables, have no artificial ingredients or preservatives, and contain 100% of the daily dose of Vitamin C.

Here’s what the ingredient list looks like so you can decide whether or not these belong in your pantry.

Stonyfield Organic Fruit Snacks Groovy Green Livin

I have to admit that I don’t generally buy sweet snacks for my kids. I try really hard to provide sugar free, healthy snack options after school. But I have my stash and every once in a while we indulge and they’re gobbled up quickly.

It’s nice to know that there’s an organic fruit snack option out there without added artificial ingredients. Each box comes with 6 pouches and each pouch contains 11 little cows. One pouch contains 70 calories, 40 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, 10 grams of sugar and zero fat. An added bonus: I can pronounce every ingredient on the label! One pouch is a perfect way to satisfy a sweet tooth.

Last night we did a taste test with the Stonyfield Organic Fruit Snacks. I had all three boys close their eyes and taste the two different flavors. One loved the mixed berry and the other two opted for the strawberry. I decided I’m a strawberry fan. Good thing we have plenty of each!

If you’re wondering whether these snack packs have made their way into your neck of the woods use the Store Locator to find out. I checked and they’re not yet available in the markets near my home.

Are you excited to try these out?

Disclosure: I’m a brand ambassador for Stonyfield Organics. I am compensated and receive product samples. All opinions are always my own. 

P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy our Groovy Green Livin NewsletterReceive new posts and special opportunities delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.


September 9th, 2015

Understanding Organic Wine and a Review of Natura Wine

Natura Wine Made From Organic Grapes Groovy Green Livin

I’m always sad to see summer go and this year for some reason I’m really feeling it. To help ease back into the reality of school, work and the change of seasons, Natura wine sent me six bottles of wine to sample.

Of course I needed a few friends to help out.

Natura Wine Made From Organic Grapes Groovy Green Livin

Natura wine is a natural wine coming from organically farmed vineyards in the valleys of Chile. 

What is organic wine?

Before sharing my thoughts on this delicious and relatively inexpensive wine I wanted to clear up a bit of confusion about organic wines in general.

If wine is made in the US and it contains added sulphites (an additive used to prevent spoilage) it must contain these words on the bottle label: “Contains Sulfites”. Some winemakers will add sulfites to prevent wine from oxidizing and spoiling quickly. Have you seen that wording on your wine bottles? Take a look next time you have a glass. It’s surprising to me that the US is one of the only countries (along with Australia) that requires bottles be labeled if a wine contains sulphites. If only the US could do the same with the labeling of GMOs.

There is no such thing as a 100% sulfite-free wine. Sulfites develop naturally as a by-product of fermentaton in small amounts. Sulfites might not be added, but all wine, beer and cheese contain some natural sulfites.

  • Organic wine in the US cannot contain added sulphites. The wine may have naturally occurring sulfites, but the total sulfite level must be less than 20 parts per million.
  • In Europe and Canada organic wine is made from organically grown grapes and it may contain added sulfites.

Review of Natura Wines

Natura wines fall into an interesting category. The wine is produced in Chile and is made from organically grown grapes, grown with no synthetic pesticides, herbicides, fungicides or chemical or sewage sludge-based fertilizers. However, a small amount of sulfites have been added to increase the wine’s shelf life and help prevent spoilage. Since sulphites have been added to Natura wine it cannot be considered organic wine in the U.S. The U.S. is the only country that doesn’t consider Natura Wine organic (see above for explanation).

Overall, the wine was delicious. It was well received by our friends and family, who ended up sharing the six bottles with us (over several evenings!). The Natura collection features seven types of wine, three whites and four reds, all produced from hand-picked, organic grapes, harvested from certified organic vineyards in the prime growing regions of Chile’s Central Valley.SONY DSC

After trying all flavors the group decided that the favorite was the Pinot Noir with the Cabernet Savignon coming in a close second.

The Pinot Noir is a bright red wine with berry undertones. It was simply delicious. We had a large group of friends over and enjoyed it with chicken, hamburgers and other food off the barbecue.

The Cabernet Savignon, from Rapel Valley (one of Chile’s best known wine regions) is a beautiful red color, with a slight strawberry aroma. This was my personal favorite.

If you’re wondering where to find Natura wine enter your zip code HERE. Most bottles are in the $10.00 range. Not bad for wine made with organic grapes.

Do you have a favorite organic wine?

P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy our Groovy Green Livin NewsletterReceive new posts and special opportunities delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.

Disclosure: I was sent 6 bottles of Natura wine for sampling.  As always, all opinions are my very own.



June 1st, 2015

6 Tips for Finding a Safe Multivitamin

6 Tips for Finding a Safe Multivitamin Groovy Green Livin

I have to admit that I’m not very good about taking a multivitamin. I’ve tried on and off over the years, but I never seem to stick to it. Right now I’m taking a Vitamin D supplement and that’s it. As an aside, I found an amazing sugar-free Vitamin D gummy that I really like. Yes, it’s a gummy, but I rarely miss a day.

When it comes to multivitamins there are plenty to choose from. Just walk up and down the aisles of any supermarket or health food store. It can be overwhelming.

If you’re in the market for a multivitamin there are a few things to think about before investing in a particular brand. 

1. Look for simple and few ingredients

When I’m buying any processed food, including a multivitamin, I look for a short ingredient list filled with ingredients I’m mostly familiar with and ingredient names I can pronounce.

2. Avoid Added Sweeteners

Read the ingredient list. Children’s vitamins are often the worst-all those gummy multivitamins are often loaded with sugar. Look for anything ending in -ose and steer clear. More often than not these are a form of sugar: sucrose, maltose, dextrose, fructose, glucose, galactose, lactose,  glucose solids, cellulose and sucrose, Also, sugar, Xylitol, high fructose corn syrup and maltodextrin. There are plenty of multivitamins on the market without added sweeteners.

3. Watchout for GMOs

Genetically Modified Organisms (also called GM, GE or GMOs) refers to crop plants that are consumed by animals and/or humans that have been tweaked or modified in a lab to boost desired traits such as: the ability of the plant to produce its own pesticide, disease resistance and improved nutritional value. We want to avoid these in our food (including multivitamins) whenever possible. Watch for multivitamins with added soy, cotton, canola, corn, sugar beets, Hawaiian papaya, alfalfa, and squash (zucchini  and yellow).

4. Skip the Artificial Dyes

According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest artificial food dyes are many times made from petroleum and possess a “rainbow of risks to children.” Those risks include hyperactivity in children, cancer (in animal studies), and allergic reactions.

In America all food labels must spell out which artificial food dyes are used in a product. Read your labels very carefully so you can make an educated decision about the multivitamin you buy. 

5. Natural Ingredients Not Synthetic

Finding a multivitamin with natural ingredients v. synthetic isn’t always easy to detect. Look for something on the label that says “whole food multivitamin or all ingredients derived from whole foods”. Also read the ingredient list to see where the ingredients come from-do they come from plants and other natural sources?

6. When Possible Look for Organic

There are a quite a few organic multivitamins on the market.

In a nutshell, products with an organic certification are made without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), or ionizing radiation.

USDA certified products cannot intentionally contain GMOs.  The USDA does not require testing for GMOs, so accidental contamination may occur.

Do you take a multivitamin? What’s your favorite?

P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy our Groovy Green Livin NewsletterReceive new posts and special opportunities delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.

Please be sure to contact your physician before taking any multivitamins

photo credit: Pills 3 via photopin (license)

March 18th, 2015

Ask Lori: Should I Peel Cucumbers or Leave the Skin On?

Ask Lori: Should I Peel Cucumbers? Groovy Green Livin

I’ve been asked many times how I come up with topics to write about. Cucumbers for example-how did this make it to the top of the list? Here’s the answer: Readers submit questions all the time and I do my best to respond. I’ve mainly been responding via email. A week or so ago I was meeting with a colleague and she suggested that I use some of the fantastic questions submitted for blog post topics. And so here we are. Keep those fantastic questions coming. You never know, they could end up the topic for “Ask Lori” .

QUESTION: Should we be peeling the skin off cucumbers or just leave it on? I don’t know if pesticides were used in the growing of the cucumber so I’ve been peeling off the skin. What do you think? 

Did you know that cucumbers belong to the same family as melons? The first cucumbers are believed to have come from India. They’re fairly easy to grow here in the Northeast. I grow them every year in my garden.

Cucumbers are low in calories and high in vitamin K, anti-oxidants and potassium. Cucumber peel is a good source of dietary fiber that helps reduce constipation and offers some protection against colon cancers.

I recently started eating  most vegetables whole, raw and with the peel on.  Sometimes they don’t look as pretty , but the taste is sweet and delicious. The peel stays put so I can reap the full benefit from the veggies-lots of fiber and nutrients.  Nature made them that way, and let’s face it- peeling is a pain.

There are a few situations where you SHOULD peel cucumbers:

  • If the outer skin or peel has a bitter taste.
  • When the cucumber isn’t organic and could be laden with heavy doses of pesticides. Cucumbers are listed as one of the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen”. The Dirty Dozen is a  list of 12 fruits and vegetables with the highest amounts of pesticides detected on the parts you eat, after typical washing.
  • If your digestive system can’t handle peels.

If you have an organic cucumber leave the peel on. You’re peeling away layers of nutritional value.

Vitamin K and unpeeled cucumbers

Eating an unpeeled cucumber adds to your daily vitamin K intake. Eating 1 cup of unpeeled cucumber provides you with 17.1 micrograms of vitamin K, while peeled cucumber slices contain only 8.6 micrograms.

Cucumbers and Vitamin C

Add unpeeled cucumber to your diet as a source of vitamin C, or ascorbic acid.  Each 1-cup serving of peeled cucumber contains 2.9 milligrams of vitamin C.

BOTTOM LINE: It sounds as though my reader’s cucumbers were not organic. I would suggest peeling the skin off since they are listed as one of the “Dirty Dozen” and trying to buy organic cucumbers in the future.

Do you peel your cucumbers?  Are you willing to try eating them with the peel on?
photo credit: cucumbers en route to pickledom via photopin (license)


P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy our Groovy Green Livin NewsletterReceive new posts and special opportunities delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.



About Lori

I’m Lori Popkewitz Alper, a recovering attorney, mom of three and the Founder of Groovy Green Livin. Come along with me as I work hard to make the world a little safer for each of us.

Click HERE to contact Lori

Lori on ABC World News

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