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Blog posts tagged "Zebra Organics"

One Powerful Way to Restore Healthy Gut Flora

Keeping your gut in check is important for overall heath and wellness. The gut microbiome, also known as gut flora, controls the digestion of food, your immune system, central nervous system and other bodily processes. There’s a common saying that goes, “when your gut is happy, you’re happy.”

According to the National Institutes for Health, approximately 60 to 70 Americans are affected by digestive disease, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). That’s a lot of people… that’s why we feel it’s important to raise awareness about maintaining good gut health.

Harvard Medical School refers to gut bacteria as “vast and mysterious like the Milky way.” This is a great analogy, as it's believed there are about 100 trillion good and bad bacteria inside our digestive system. Research suggests that certain bacteria in your gut can prevent and treat many common diseases, including Rheumatoid arthritis and heart disease. Eating more fermented foods and using probiotic supplements can be great ways to support the restoration of the probiotic diversity in your gut. For the purpose of this post, we’re going to focus on one of our favourite fermented foods – miso soup.

Photo credit: Minimalist Baker

Miso is traditionally considered to be a food that promotes good health and a long and happy life. Its origins can be traced to China as far back as the 4th century BC. It is high in essential amino acids and is loaded with beneficial bacteria and living enzymes that aid digestion and assimilation.

The Minimalist Baker has a great recipe for a classic (and vegan) miso soup that only requires six ingredients. It only takes 15-minutes to make from start to finish. We like this particular recipe because it’s bursting with miso flavour and is more filling than you would expect with the greens.

Tips to get the most out of your miso:

One of the most important things when dealing with fermented, living miso is to add it to warm, not hot, water so as not to “kill” the miso and its probiotic benefits.

Don’t just use any ol’ miso. It’s important that it’s real, fermented, alive miso preferably from Japan, where they know how to do miso. This is very much a “you get what you pay for” scenario. Using high quality, nutritional ingredients will be the most impactful to your health.

We offer one of the finest organic fermented barley miso from Japan that is made by the Ohsawa company, who has made miso or the Japanese Royal Family for centuries. They also make Nama Shoyu soy sauce, and Ume Vinegar, all of which we offer.

Making miso soup can sometimes be deceptively simple. Here are some common mistakes to avoid when you’re giving it a shot.

Miso soup is a warm, warm, comforting and savory dish. Give it a go and let us know how you like it!

To learn more about the gut microbiome, watch this TedTalk: Microbiome: Gut Bugs and You

Feature image credit: Minimalist Baker


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Boosting Your Immunity With Zinc

Peak season for common colds are the winter and spring. A sore throat and running nose are often the first signs of a cold coming on, followed by sneezing and coughing. Nobody wants to be that person in bed with a fistful of tissues gazing out at the blue sky and sunshine. That’s the opposite of fun!

Next time you sense a cold coming on, try attacking it with zinc. Zinc is the most common mineral found in your body and is used to help produce white blood cells, which fight infection. According to the Mayo Clinic, taking a zinc supplement shortly after the onset of a cold may shorten the length of it. It can help to boost your immune system and metabolism. It also fosters the healing of wounds and is important for maintaining a strong sense of taste and smell. It’s not intended as a long-term supplement, but one that should be taken as required.

We are now offering New Chapter’s amazing organic Zinc Food Complex tablets, which consist of fermented zinc and include copper to offset the potential of copper deficiency. New Chapter's Zinc Tablets only contain 15 mg of zinc, which is 100 percent of the recommended daily allowance of zinc. (This is in line with the Mayo Clinic’s suggestions of daily allowances and avoids the higher doses, which can cause the copper deficiency). The tables are taken once daily and can be taken anytime, even on an empty stomach.

Whole food cultured Zinc means it’s cultured in live probiotics. Probiotics are the healthy bacteria found naturally in fermented foods such as yogurt, tempeh, kefir, and sauerkraut. By culturing vitamins and minerals in a probiotic matrix of fermented organic soy, fruits, and vegetables, we create whole-food complexes that the body can easily recognize and digest because they’re food. New Chapter has a great video that talks about the benefits of the fermentation process used in their zinc and other products. Check it out here.

As a bonus, Zinc is also great for our skin. It supports skin resilience and helps maintain the integrity of skin and mucosal membranes.

Note that The Mayo Clinic cautions against using nasal zinc sprays, as they can actually cause a loss of smell and taste. Stick to taking zinc orally when you need it.

Are you a New Chapter fan? We offer a wide variety of New Chapter vitamins and dietary supplements. View the selection. New Chapter have been in the wellness game for more than 35 years. We are big supporters of their natural, sustainably sourced products.


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Cultured Food Festival Round-Up

Organic Raw Brazilian Rainforest Honey

Our team was delighted to have shared our gourmet and organic foods at the Cultured Food Festival at the Highland Springs Ranch and Inn on February 23 and 24, 2019.

But hang on, what are cultured foods, you ask? "Cultured" essentially means "fermented."

Cultured foods have undergone a process through which they are broken down, usually by bacteria, yeasts or fungi. There are so many different types of cultured food, including yogurt and cheese. Initially produced as a way to preserve foods, cultured foods not only enhance flavor; they have an array of additional health benefits, including fostering gut health by strengthening your gut microbiome. They are packed with good bacteria and they are becoming more and more popular today.

We were honored to be invited to present our organic Brazilian Rainforest Honey and organic Black Botija Dried Olive at this year's festival. These are two of our favourite and most popular cultured foods that we offer. High quality ingredients such as raw, organic honey is key to some cultured foods and beverages, like Kombucha. Our Brazilian Rainforest honey is rich in flavor, aroma and nutrients that result from bees harvesting the diverse heirloom blossoms of the forest.

Organic Peruvian Black Botija Olives

Our olives are in the same league as our honey. Our heirloom variety, organic, Peruvian, black, cured olive is unique and likely different from most olives you’ve tasted. It is cured using the old-world style method of processing, which is so special and unique. Check out our post on The Lost Art of Artisan Olive Curing to learn more.

To create a delicious appetizer that’s quick and easy, you only need four simple ingredients. Slice up a cucumber and serve with a slice of Manchego cheese (a Spanish sheep cheese), an olive, a small slice of avocado and a dash of course culinary sea salt. And voilà! You have a tasty and healthy snack for your friends and family to enjoy.

Thank you for everyone that joined us for our talk and tasting or swung by our pop-up shop. Even if you missed it, we hope we've inspired you to create a delicious snack using a few simple ingredients that you can prepare and enjoy at home.


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The Lost Art of Artisan Olive Curing

Are you a fan of olives? Do you want to know what the secret is to flavourful and nutrient-dense olives? The way in which they are cured makes all the different to the taste and flavour.

Olive Curing

Olives have to be cured because they're unpalatably bitter when they come off the tree. If you’ve ever tried to eat them, you’ll know it’s impossible. To be able to eat them, they have to be cured in some manner. The Old World way of doing that is fermentation. A lot of people have departed from the Old World way because of time and money, though it's making a comeback today.

Best Black Botija Olive

Old World vs New World Olive Curing

Old World fermentation is the secret to flavourful and nutrient-dense olives. The Old World method is simple. The olives are placed into salted spring water and then sealed in large vats so there’s no air. They are left there to ferment for about two or two and a half months. They are then rinsed, pitted and dried. “Our olives come from a third generation farm in Peru where they just won’t do it any other way." says Randy Olsen, founder, Zebra Organics. "As far as olives go, this is a lost art. There are a few places in the world that still do it, but these are few and far between.”

Nowadays the most common method of curing olives is with lye, a caustic chemical that you have to rinse out. Lye kills a lot of the good bacteria and also takes away the natural flavour and aroma. “The reason most companies cure the New World way nowadays is because of time and money. They don't want to spend the time on fermentation. Curing with lye only takes 12 hours. The Old World way is a huge time commitment. Many companies aren’t doing things because they're mindful of taste, quality and nutrient value; it's just money. They want to get the food out there fast and they want to produce huge volumes of it. They also want to keep it on the shelves for extended amounts of time but the irony of that is fermentation actually preserves the olive - or any other food. When you open up our Black Botija Olives, they don’t have to be refrigerated, unlike olives that are cured in lye. They are already preserved,” says Olsen. Be mindful of the cans on grocery store shelves that say “Black, ripe olives.” These are likely to have been picked as a green olive off the tree and have had all the nutrients cooked out of them with chemicals. They are put into a combination of things like lye and iron salts and other highly caustic and alkaline liquids. (While people talk about being alkaline, being fully alkaline, like being fully acidic, burns though metal). Lye is one of the most alkaline (and dangerous) chemicals on the planet. The olives have to be rinsed multiple times before they’re packaged, so there’s no chance of ingesting the lye. Being extremely corrosive, you can’t get it on your skin or it will burn through it.

Zebra Organics Olives

Our Black Botija Olives offer a robust flavour. Cured in spring water, they are rinsed over a few days, sun dried and pitted. The process is all manual and there is no salt added afterwards. You can enjoy the natural texture, while tasting all the layers of flavour that is preserved via the Old World curing process.

Olives make for a great appetizer. Put these black olives out during a party and they’ll be your most popular snack and are guaranteed to not last long. Olives are also great in pasta salads and pasta sauces. Give them a try and let us know what you think!

The Benefits of Fermentation

Fermentation has been around as long as man. As long as there’s been life on earth there’s been some form of fermentation. Popular foods like beer, bread, coffee, kimchi and sauerkraut have all been fermented. There’s no food that you can’t ferment.

Fermented foods foster gut health. Anytime you’re eating fermented food, you’re increasing the good bacteria in your system, which we cannot live without. (The bacterium that’s harmful to humans is killed during the fermentation process). As a culture, we’ve become afraid of bacteria. We’re a nation of germophobes. What’s important is that the more good bacteria we have in our bodies, the less chance bad bacteria has to grow and cause disease. Fermented foods don’t rot or decay and are more flavourful. There's a lot of research now that has found they regulate our mood, the chemistry of our stomach and our immune system.

Olives for Good Health

Olives have been part of the Mediterranean diet since the Middle Ages and they come with all sorts of health benefits. Did you know all olives are black? There’s no such thing as a green olive tree. (Mind blowing, isn't it?). Olives are picked at different times of the season, depending on preference. If you let all olives ripen fully they will all be black.

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Non-Dairy Milk Alternatives – Which is right for you?

The industry for non-dairy alternatives to milk has grown exponentially in the last decade. In fact, worldwide sales doubled between 2009 and 2015 to $21 billion.

Buying milk from the supermarket is not as straightforward as it used to be. We aren’t just limited to full cream and skim; there’s a whole world of non-dairy options available. The most popular alternatives are derived from soy, almond, rice, coconut, cashew and macadamia. Oat, pea and hemp milks are also making appearances. Next time you’re at the supermarket, peruse the options and you’ll be surprised at the selection. Non-dairy alternatives are not only popular for those with allergies or intolerances to cow’s milk; they have become a lifestyle choice. Tip: Look for "calcium fortified" varieties, which contain similar amounts of calcium to cow's milk.

Healthy Non Dairy Almond Milk

Almond Milk

This is a fabulous alternative for vegans, as it’s lactose-, soy-, and dairy-free. If you have ever tried to purchase almond milk from the supermarket, you may have struggled to choose between the refrigerated options and long-life options. The only difference is that they have been pasteurized differently. Without getting too technical, they use either UHT (ultra high heat) pasteurization or HTST (high-temperature short-time) pasteurization. The UHT processing for shelf milk doesn’t actually deplete key nutrients like protein and calcium. (Fitness Magazine goes into depth about this).

If you’re tossing up between brands, the best way to choose is to do a direct comparison of the almond content. The unsweetened option is your best bet.

The not so good news

The thing about almond milk is that it’s not so great for the environment. It takes five litres of water to grow one almond. Around 80 per cent of the world’s almonds are produced in California (Almond Board of California) and the state suffered from a drought for more than five years (California Water Science Center).

According to estimates from Euromonitor International, almond consumption grew 15 per cent from 2012 to 2017 and growth is predicted to continue rising through to 2021 by 4 per cent annually.

Oat Milk

With the market growth in lactose-free alternatives comes the rise in the lesser-known oat milk. Made from steel cut oats mixed with water, oat milk is nut-free, high in fiber and has a neutral and creamy flavor. It requires six times less the amount of water to grow than an almond, making it much more sustainable to produce. Sweden-based Oatly was the world’s first producer of oat milk and has been making it for about 30 years. It has made its way into cafes in the United States and has been praised by coffee drinkers for its taste and consistency. Unlike soy milk, it reacts well to heating and doesn’t curdle. raw-milk-organic-zebra-organics

Raw milk

Raw milk is a growing food fad but sales are restricted. In 17 states, raw milk is allowed to be purchased on the farm on which it was produced. Only 13 states in the US (which includes California) are allowed to sell their milk in retail stores. Selling and purchasing raw milk in Canada is illegal. Read more here. There is a long history and debate surrounding legalizing raw milk in the United States. Raw milk is unpasteurized, a process where milk products are heated to make them safe for drinking. Public health authorities claim that there is a risk of illness from raw milk consumption. Others swear by it and advocate the benefits. The Guardian investigated this further. If you’d like to learn more, we encourage you to watch the “Milk Money” episode as part of the "Rotten" Netflix documentary series.

Rice Milk

Rice milk is made from brown rice and commonly found unsweetened. It is often available in different flavours, much like almond milk. It's low in fat and generally tastes sweeter than cow's milk. Research suggest it lowers cholesterol and hypertension, and has anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative effects. Hemp, soy, coconut, macadamia, cashew and pea milks are also great non-daily options. We recommend you do further research to ensure that you are choosing the best option for you. If you enjoy making your food from scratch, read our post on Homemade Nut Milk.

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Interview with Joshua, Founder of Living Intentions

This week we spoke with Joshua McHugh, founder of Living Intentions, a raw food company based in California. We wanted to learn more and find out what they’re up to.

In case you aren’t familiar with them, Living Intentions were among the early pioneers of the modern sprouted food movement. Over a decade ago Joshua began offering sprouted, activated foods under his Living Intentions brand. He has stayed true to his name, in both his intent to offer clean, nutrient-rich, excellent tasting nuts and seeds and to assure his customers are getting living foods via their sprouting/activation techniques.

Living Intentions | Organic Food, California

What inspired you to start the company?

Many things! I really wanted to start a food company creating innovative snacks that were healthier than the alternative out there. This really kept me on the forefront of sourcing high-quality unique ingredients and herbal extracts from other functional foods.

What are the main benefits of a raw food diet? Would you encourage everyone to try it?

I would recommend anybody try it as part of a balanced lifestyle, I really preach the 80/20 rule: 80% raw, 20% cooked. It’s all about the enzymes. Enzymes create a pathway for the body to rejuvenate and heal.

What product can you not live without?

Two items, Sprouted Pumpkin Seeds and our new Superfood Popcorn.

Tell us how you do what you do in an environmentally friendly fashion.

Well first off, 99% of the ingredients we source are organic. We also source "transitional almonds". "Transitional" is the process from conventional to organic and all farming is done in accordance to organic methods. We have helped a handful of farms move from a conventional crop to an organic crop over the last 15 years.

What’s been the biggest challenge you have faced since you launched the company?

Business is a roller coaster, and things are coming at you from all angles. I'm not sure if there is one specific challenge, however, you just have to take it as it comes and work your way through the process of learning.

Who (or what) inspires you?

I am inspired by innovation. Whether it’s food music or anything else I feel like being at the forefront of any movement takes a lot of courage, strength and perseverance. That's what inspires me.

What’s the best piece of advice you can give to someone that wants to make healthy food choices?

The best advice is actually really simple but under utilized in today’s crazy world. Feel your food! Feel what you're putting in your body, as it knows what's good for you and if you can learn to listen to it, you will be a super healthy person. -- “We’ve been selling Living Intentions since Zebra Organics was founded in 2007. I first tried them an Erewhon Natural Foods in LA, when they first came out over 10 years ago, and fell in love with the flavors and quality" - Randy Olsen, founder of Zebra Organics. “I admire that Joshua and his company always have, and continue to, strive to educate people on the value of sprouted / activated / raw / living foods and the nutrient / health value of such foods.”

View our favourite products by Living Intentions here. Learn more about sprouted foods.

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