Category Archives: Organic Gourmet

Organic food

Organic Chocolate Children’s Advent Calendar

The countdown to the festive season has arrived and the build-up to Christmas is often more exciting than Christmas day itself. This is particularly true for children because this is on December 1st that many advent calendars begin. Advent calendars are covered with little windows corresponding to each day of the month of up to the 24th. of December. Each little window opens with a flap to reveal an image often related to Christmas tradition but nowadays, they can also reveal a nice little chocolate piece and this is why children are so excited each day to wake up and open their advent calendar.

Since the festive season is already linked with an increased intake of food and sugary stuff that lower the immune system and create a build-up of toxins in the body, why not limit the damages by giving advent calendars packed with organic goodies to avoid additional intake of chemicals.

Organic chocolate means that the cacao and sugar used are produced with chemical-free methods using biodynamic and organic fertilizers so being free of pesticides, chemical fertilizers, herbicides and other things, it is not only better for our health but it is also a way of protecting the health of the farmers who are less exposed to chemicals and to protect the environment and the ecosystem by using alternative means of production. So by doing one small part, everyone wins. And at the same time, why not give fun facts to our children about organic farming so that they can learn about the environment and health-friendly food. Tiki the Penguin can help!

You can find advent calendars with organic chocolate in any supermarket or in some chocolate shops. Alternatively, you can find some on Amazon such as Montezuma’s – Organic Milk Chocolate Children’s Advent Calendar or Montezuma’s Dark Chocolate Advent Calendar or even Montezuma’s Organic Milk Chocolate Advent Calendar

Enjoy and Happy December!

Can you cook with extra virgin olive oil?

When chosing a cooking oil, it is important to avoid certain vegetable oils such as walnut oil or flaxseed oil. However, many people wonder if extra virgin olive oil belongs to the category of oils that should be avoided. So can you cook with extra virgin olive oil?

To determine if an oil can be used for cooking, it is necesssary to know its “smoking point”. The smoking point of an oil is the point right before the oil starts boiling to put it in a simple way or the peak at which a chemical break down of the oil starts to take place and becomes harmful to health, because of the loss of nutritional content and the creation of carcinogens. The boiling point of water is 100ºC but the smoking point of an oil depends on each type of oil. The higher the smoking point is, the safer it is to use that specific oil for cooking. As a reference point, deep frying occurs at 190ºC so an oil with a smoking point below this temperature will not be suitable for cooking.

However, it is also important to define why the smoking point of an oil is high. The smoking point of an oil is determined partly by its free fatty acidity or FAA and the lower the FAA, the higher the smoking point will be. The free fatty acidity content on the other hand can be very low or close to zero for different reasons:

– the oil has been refined, meaning it went through a chemical process
– the oil is pure and of high quality such as extra virgin olive oil and is naturally low in FFA

The smoking point of olive oil varies from source to source because each manufacturer claims their oil to be the best but the smoking point also depends on the type of virgin olive oil. Virgin olive oil is obtained by a mechanical process of the olive fruit and does not undergo any treatment or alteration. It is important to differentiate olive oils and according to the International Olive Oil Council, the definition of olive oil is as follows:

“Olive oil is the oil obtained solely from the fruit of the olive tree (Olea europaea L.), to the exclusion of oils obtained using solvents or re-esterification processes and of any mixture with oils of other kinds. It is marketed in accordance with the following designations and definitions: Virgin olive oils are the oils obtained from the fruit of the olive tree solely by mechanical or other physical means under conditions, particularly thermal conditions, that do not lead to alterations in the oil, and which have not undergone any treatment other than washing, decantation, centrifugation and filtration. Virgin olive oils fit for consumption as they are include:

Extra virgin olive oil
– Virgin olive oil
– Ordinary virgin olive oil”

Extra virgin olive oil has a free fatty acidity ranging from 0 to 0.8% and as mentioned above, the lower the FFA, the higher the smoking point. Also, the higher the quality of the extra virgin olive oil, the lower the FAA.

On the other hand, olive oils not fit for consumption include refined olive oils that have been chemically treated, olive pomace oils that are extracted from the pulp using solvents or pure olive oils that are a mix of refined oils and extra virgin olive oils. The FFA of a refined olive oil is around 0.3% so is also low but the oil is not as natural and healthy as the extra virgin olive oil while having a similar ranging FFA.

A high quality extra virgin olive oil’s smoking point varies between 185ºC to 210ºC which makes its smoking point slightly below or higher than the deep frying temperature of 190 degree celsius so cooking food at lower temperatures which typically vary between 140ºC to 160ºC with extra virgin olive oil is actually fine and will give a nice taste to the dish. Extra virgin olive oil is also rich in monounsaturated fats (around 70%) and the ideal cooking oil should be rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (called also unsaturated fats or good fats versus saturated fats that raise cholesterol, increase heart disease rate and much more). This is why oils such as refined coconut oil, palm oil, peanut oil, even sunflower seed oil should be avoided. They may have a high smoking point but their content of saturated fats make them unhealthy, even dangerous. Another good alternative is organic avocado oil also rich in monounsaturated fats and with a smoking point of 271ºC.

You can easily find Biona Organic Extra Virgin Italian Olive Oil, 1l online.

Organic pine nuts

Organic pine nuts are edible kernels extracted from pine cones that grow on specific pine tree species. The quantity of kernels produced by a cone will depend greatly on the altitude at which the tree grows because little or too much humidity will force the tree to abort the pine cone growth and hence the seeds growth. An ideal altitude seems to range between 2000m to 2500m although in certain climates, the pine trees can produce cones at much lower altitudes. pine coneThe pine seeds or nuts are contained within a hard shell present underneath the pine cone scales. Pine nuts are very difficult to extract and require a full process that can last up to 18 months. The cone needs to reach maturity to be harvested of course, then dried until it fully opens to gather the seeds and the seeds need to be extracted from their own hard shell. pine nuts This explains why pine nuts can be expensive but also given the fact that they have a short shell life and can become rancid pretty quickly unless they are stored in a dry place.

Health benefits of pine nuts

Pine nuts are not considered nuts but seeds and can sometimes be found under the name of pignon or pignalias. People have been eating pine nuts for centuries and they were once considered as an aphrodisiac in Ancient Greek civilization where they were preserved in honey. They are now included in culinary dishes including salad toppings, sauces, meat but they are also delicious as is. Their health properties lie in their high content of protein which is ideal for people who do not eat meat. They are very rich in good fats including mono-unsaturated fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids and linoleic acid (omega 6). Linoleic acid forms part of our cell membranes and should be included in regular diet especially if combined with Omega 3. They also contain Vitamin A, B (1, 3, 5, 6), Vitamin E, fiber, zinc, magnesium, potassium, iron and manganese. They are said to contribute to lowering the bad cholesterol, preventing cardio-vascular disease (thanks to the good fats), reducing the appetite and helping with weight loss. Also, they can contribute to skin and hair health because of the natural occurring fats.

Organic pine nuts should be favored because the pine trees grow on organic crops. Also, some pine nuts can have a bitter flavor which should not happen with organic pine nuts. However, just like for any other organic products, you should always check the origin of the product to ensure that it is truly organic.

Organic safflower oil for weight loss

Safflower is a plant belonging to the sun flower family with yellow, red or orange flowers. The plant is 30 cm to 150 cm of height and can resist both very dry climates or intense colds. Traditionally used to produce dyes, the safflower plant produces seeds used to make oil.

Animal fats and vegetable fats

There is a distinction between animal fats and vegetable fats. Animal fats are rich in saturated fats and are therefore to be eaten in moderation. They are often the cause of increase in weight, bad cholesterol and cardio-vascular diseases. As for vegetable fats, they can result in the same complications if they are chemically treated and heated because they also contain saturated fats. On the other hand, an oil that is virgin, cold-pressed and from vegetable origin is rich in polyunsaturated and mono-unsaturated fats and will not induce the same problems since those fats are actually indispensable for proper function, nourishment and protection of the human body. A cold-pressed oil extraction is done without pre-heating of the source it is extracted from (seeds, grains, fruits).

Health benefits of organic safflower oil

There are many sources of good fats but cold-pressed organic safflower oil is extremely interesting for its therapeutic use because of its chemical composition; it is indeed very rich in polyunsaturated and mono-unsaturated fats and particularly in Omega 6 and Vitamin E. Among all the vegetable oils, safflower oil is the richest in linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid that should be included in human diet on a daily basis for good health since it is one main constituent of human cell membranes and it is valuable to strengthen the immune system. A lack of linoleic acid can result in skin disorders such as dermatitis, inflammation, acne, dry skin, dry hair and even hair loss.

Safflower oil can be used internally as part of the diet and is particularly recommended for weight loss. It is also recommended to people suffering from type 2 diabetes not only to lose weight but also to reduce blood sugar and safflower is being studied to produce insulin. It can help as well to regularize menstrual cycles and has natural anti-inflammatory properties. However, because safflower oil is very rich in linoleic acid but contains less mono-unsaturated fats, it should be taken in alternation with other oils or food sources rich in mono-unsaturated fats to benefit from a balanced diet and give the body all the nutrients needed.

Topically, safflower oil used in massages can help reduce muscular tensions and muscular pains, rheumatism conditions and intestinal disorders. As mentioned above, it is also an excellent oil against skin disorders such as eczema, psoriasis, inflammation, acne, dry skin and even dry hair. It can be added in the bath to really penetrate the skin and the hair and leave it soft and nourished. Safflower oil is odorless and can be mixed with few drops of favorite organic essential oils to make a relaxing and therapeutic bath.

Organic safflower oil can found at any local health store or online Naissance Safflower Oil 250ml Certified Organic 100% Pure like any other organic products.

Organic candies for Halloween

Halloween is just around the corner and when kids come knocking at the door this year, why not be prepared with organic candies? Colorful candies are fun and taste good but by simply reading the list of ingredients they contain, one can easily understand how harmful they are. As adults, we can chose to harm ourselves or not but feeding children with such candies is really giving them no choice but to get health complications. Indeed, regular candies are packed with not only refined sugar (a modified sugar deprived of all nutrients) or artificial sweeteners but also additives, preservatives, food coloring, pesticides, synthetic ingredients and more. Eating them once in a while is okay but the problem is that they are addictive so when a kid tried it, he/she will ask for more and the consequences will start to show. According to studies, additives and preservatives in food are linked to allergies and 20% of children now suffer from an allergy of some sort and from asthma in particularly. Further studies have even warned against the rise of ADD symptoms that have increased by 400% in the past 20 years, again because of the ingestion of food additives and preservatives. Such behavior issues are becoming problematic especially when children become adults but other studies have shown that a change in the diet that is free of chemicals and rather contains fresh and pesticides-free vegetables and fruits drastically improved the condition and behavior patterns. Besides such conditions, candies contribute to weight gain and it is not uncommon to see overweight and even obese children nowadays who will most likely develop further problems such as Type 2 diabetes or heart problems that could have been easily avoided with a proper diet.

If you want to know about what is inside the candies, just type in the ingredients one by one in your browser and look it up. Alternatively, the FDA warns against some additives that can create allergic reactions or even worse health complications and force companies to list such ingredients on the packaging so at least, we can make an informed decision as to whether we want to eat or not. There is also an excellent source to check whether your food ingredients are harmful or not: The center for science in the public interest. By simply searching for an ingredient, it will tell you if it is safe, if you need to cut back on it or to avoid it altogether.

As a safer choice to regular candies, you can go for alternatives such as dried fruits, organic chocolates, dark chocolate truffles, or organic candies that typically contain natural ingredients derived from fruits and won’t be as harmful but taking them in moderation is also recommended because they are sweet. However, organic candies are sweetened with natural sugar such as cane sugar, honey or maple syrup and they are dyed with natural plant extracts that can induce the color red, yellow or any other colors. They are free of chemicals, free of artificial coloring and flavoring and free of other harmful synthetic ingredients. However, as we always stress it out, organic products are in fashion and even when you buy organic candies, you should always read the list of ingredients to ensure that the candies are truly organic and natural.

We have listed few brands of organic candies and organic chocolates or dried fruits that are safe and can be fun to give to children for Halloween because you will ensure you are not hurting anyone!

Organic dark chocolate truffles

Organic dark chocolate truffles with goji berries

Contains organic cacao powder, organic Agave, organic cacao butter, dried bing cherries, organic cacao nibs, organic goji berries, organic vanilla beans, organic date sugar, and Celtic sea salt.
$16.95 (approx.) – CLICK TO BUY

Dried organic goji berries

Dried organic goji berries by Navitas

Dried organic goji berries are provided by the company Navitas, an innovator in organic dried fruits. Dried organic goji berries can be eaten as is and taste really good while being rich in vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, amino acids and more. They are certified organic, kosher, vegan, sun-dried and raw. Even children will like them.
$13.67 (approx.) – CLICK TO BUY

Organic assorted candies

Organic assorted candies by YummyEarth

YummyEarth Organic Candy Drops are 100% natural and certified organic candies made from real fruit extracts. They are gluten-free, chemicals and dyes-free and contain no allergens, eggs, soy, nuts, wheat or dairy. They come in different fruit flavors such as pomegranate, lemon, mango, orange and watermelon. They are the ideal organic candies for Halloween.
$21.54 (approx.) – CLICK TO BUY

Happy Halloween!!

Organic manuka honey

Organic manuka honey is produced from bees that feed from the Manuka tree. The manuka tree is also known under its latin name Leptospermum scoparium and even called tea tree falsely because Captain Cook used to make tea with its leaves. It is a small evergreen shrub from New-Zealand and Australia that measures between 2m to 5m and produces white flowers whose nectar is gathered by the bees.manuka-tree

Manuka honey benefits

Organic manuka honey has a unique taste and is stronger and darker than most honeys. Manuka honey is reputable for its extraordinary natural anti-bacterial properties and scientists have discovered that this is due to a protein called defensin-1 made by the bee and added to the honey. Defensin-1 kills bacteria and is efficient to treat infections and act against bacteria that have become antibiotic-resistant. Further research is being done to produce natural antibiotic with manuka honey. Manuka honey is also rich in proteins, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins and is an amazing product to add to the diet. It is a good product to use against persistent coughs.
Manuka honey is also excellent for the skin as it can help treat skin infections, skin irritations, rashes, wounds, burns while retaining the moisture of the skin and promoting cell reproduction; it is ideal for dry skin and manuka honey is widely used in the medical field. It leaves the skin soft and nourished and acts as a natural anti-inflammatory. People with acne can try it because it is very beneficial and will cure spots in no time.

We recommend a certified organic manuka honey as the organic seal will give you peace of mind when buying organic products. Raw manuka honey is ideal if you want to eat honey and if you want to use it for your skin. However, you can also find ready manuka honey moisturizer or manuka honey cleanser for the skin.

Organic rye flour

Organic rye flour comes from rye, a cereal grain that, when growing, looks like a grass. Rye is also known as Secale cereale and belongs to the Poaceae just like barley and wheat. Rye flour is used to make pumpernickelpumpernickel bread and is a great alternative to white bread. Rye flour is milled from the whole rye berries and grains and because the germ and the bran are not separated during the milling of the flour, it is way richer in nutrients that processed white flour. Rye flour can be of very dark color or lighter color, depending on how much bran has been removed.

ryeOrganic rye flour comes from rye that has not been sprayed with chemicals and is therefore better than other rye flours. Organic rye flour is ideal to bake although it is very low in gluten, preventing bread or cakes to rise properly. You can always mix rye flour with an organic white flour to ensure that the cake won’t be a disaster and you can add other organic products to the cake such as blueberries or organic goji berries.

Rye flour nutritional benefits

Rye flour is very rich in fibers (especially soluble), proteins, vitamin B, vitamin E, iron, calcium and zinc. Therefore, it is used as a prebiotic to stimulate the growth of good bacteria and hence the digestive system. The fibers slow down the absorption of sugars and it is a good way to lower blood sugar in type 2 diabetes. Rye flour is also very low in gluten so it is ideal for people who don’t agree with gluten. It is also advised to prevent cardio-vascular conditions and to boost the immune system.

Organic dark chocolate truffles with goji berry

We have found an amazing gourmet product that not only tastes good but that also makes up for a little healthy snack: dark chocolate truffles with goji berry. The truffles are made from organic cacao powder and organic cacao butter and also contain goji berries, well-known for their health properties as well as cherries. They are sweetened with fruit extracts (dates and agaves) and do not contain any chemicals or added sugar. The truffles are made by hand and have each a delicious flavor and texture that will make you want to eat the whole box at once. dark chocolate truffles with goji berriesThe organic dark chocolate truffles with goji berries can be part of your “sweet” cabinet but they also make for an excellent gift for chocolate connoisseurs. Plus, they come in a very cute little container. The dark chocolate truffles, can purchased online here. They are shipped internationally and will be home withing 6 to 10 days depending on where you live. Eating chocolate can be healthy if the chocolate is dark and unprocessed and does contain any additional sugars or fats.

cacao-treeDark chocolate is derived from cacao seeds. The cacao tree, also known as Theobroma cacao which means the “food of Gods” in Greek and is native from South America although it is also grown in Africa and more particularly in Ivory Coast, the largest world exporter of cacao. The cacao tree is an evergreen tree belonging to the Sterculiaceae family that needs a humid climate and an irrigated soil to grow properly and is often found at altitudes ranging from 600m to 1000m. It produces poisonous leaves, flowers that grow in clusters on the tonk of the tree and fruits or cacao pods that resemble of a yellow melon and become orange/light brown when ripen. cacao-podsThe cacao pods measure from 10cm to 40 cm and contains 30 to 60 seeds or cacao beans that are enclaved in a whitish and dry pulp. cacao-beansThe cacao beans, once extracted, are fermented between 2 to 8 days in order to release their aroma or chocolate flavor and then dried. Later on, the beans will be roasted at the factory to start the process of making chocolate, first producing a thick chocolate liquor that is cacao contained in cacao butter. Cacao liquor is then separated from the cacao butter that contains 40% to 50% of fats and turned into cacao powder. chocolate liquorDark chocolate is typically made from chocolate liquor and milk chocolate with chocolate liquor, sugars and milk. Chocolate can also be made from cacao powder extracted from beans that have not been fermented or roasted and therefore are packed with much higher percentage of antioxidants. Unfermented beans deliver a stronger and bitterer-tasty chocolate.

Organic dark chocolate health benefits

Cacao is packed with antioxidants called polyphenols that protect the cells from oxidation much like berries or beans and that result in good health, helping boost the immune system, prevent cardio-vascular complications and even cancer, reduce bad cholesterol levels and can even lower the blood pressure. Cacao is also packed with minerals that are essential for health such as copper, calcium, potassium, iron and magnesium. Cacao also helps make us feel good and are a sort of anti-depressant because it contains phenylethylamine, a substance that helps produce natural chemicals in our brain, also known as endorphins. It contains mild stimulants like theobromine that is also helpful in reducing coughing and caffeine in small dosage to give us a little boost.

Organic dark chocolate

Let’s not forget that cacao is derived from a tree, hence its beneficial properties and we are not talking here about sweet and unhealthy chocolate bars but the cacao itself or pure chocolate. The healthiest chocolate will be a very dark and organic chocolate and even a fair trade organic chocolate although it is important not to rely only on the packaging to chose your chocolate but like with all organic products, to also check the list of ingredients to ensure this is a truly organic chocolate. Organic chocolate is made from organic beans that have not been spread with pesticides and that have not been fermented or roasted, keeping intact its health properties. Also, dark and organic chocolate is unsweetened or less sweetened, contains less fat and has not been mixed with other ingredients that give the bad reputation to eating chocolate. Dark chocolate can be incorporated in the diet if it is not eaten abusively.

Zoom on the superfruits: organic goji berry

The organic goji berry is also known under the name wolfberry and belongs to the Lycium genus and Solanaceae family, just like tomato, pepper, eggplant and patato. Goji berry comes from south-east Europe and Asia and the plant grows goji berry flowers of lavender or light purple color that goji berry flowerbloom from June to September while the seeds produce bright orange/red fruits that ripen from July to October. The fruits are sometimes referred to as red diamonds.

Goji berries have drawn attention the past few years and are now marketed as superfruits for their nutritional values and are often referred as Novel Foods. However, goji berries are not new and have been eaten for more than 600 years especially in China and the plant was introduced in the UK in 1730. Being forgotten by the general public, it was put back on the market in the years 2000 and onwards.

Goji berry health benefits

Goji berries are known for their high content of antioxidants and this is why they have been marketed as superfruits. As such, they can help boost the immune system. They are also used in Traditional Chinese medicine to protect the liver, to improve blood circulation, to enhance sexual functions, to protect the eye sight and to reduce cardio-vascular risks. They can help reduce high blood pressure, eliminate bad cholesterol, increase energy levels, improve skin complexion and even as anti-aging. They are a great fruit to include in the diet as they are rich in Vitamin C (more than oranges), Vitamin B2 (for the metabolism), antioxidants (phenols), zinc, selenium, iron, potassium, calcium, beta-carotene, amino acids (to build blocks of proteins), monosaccharides and polysaccharides (carbohydrates), unsaturated fats (linoleic acid or omega 6 and alpha-linolenic acid or omega 3) and fibers.

Organic goji berries

Goji berries are known to be spread with a lot of pesticides, fungicides and insecticides especially when coming from Asia. Some goji berries batches were even refused from entering the USA because of the level of chemicals that they contained. Therefore, you should favor organic goji berries as most organic products are grown naturally but again, always check the origin and the packaging to ensure they are truly organic goji berries. dry goji berriesGoji berries are often sold in the form of dried goji berries that are chewy in texture and sweet and sour in taste because fresh goji berries are not easy to find. They are also sometimes found in tisanes in the organic teas section but the most common form is goji berry juice. However, pure goji berry juice is also hard to find and you will notice that the goji juice is in most cases mixed with other berries juice and sugar. Again, an organic goji berry juice will contain higher percentages of organic goji berries and no added sugar. You can at last find delicatessen food such as dark chocolate truffles with goji berry. If the chocolate is dark and the product does not contain added sugar, it can make up for a pleasant and healthy snack.

The gross reality about meat products

This is a video about meat farming that is so disgusting, it might turn you vegan. You might have seen it already but this is really shocking and it should be seen by everyone to stop the ongoing massacre. The video speaks for itself so we will not comment but hopefully, it will give you food for thought so to speak. We have compared it with an organic chicken farm video that yes, might not be a certified organic chicken farm, but organic is here used as a term for natural, non cruel and even normal. In the organic chicken farm, chickens are grown outside, they have space, they eat natural grains, they see green things and are only part of the natural food chain, as opposed to a mass production meat factory that treats living things with cruelty only to ensure that big food chains continue to feed us with their burgers, chicken wings and what not.

Disgusting meat factory:

Organic chicken farm

You can find organic meat products at your local natural store or even online buy organic meat online at shops such as as http://www.laverstokepark.co.uk/ to contribute to the fight against animal cruelty. Organic products are becoming a fashion but what it means deeply is going back to the traditional ways of growing things, may it be animals, vegetables or fruits; a traditional way that respects nature and all living things.