|(ARA) – Not too long ago, if you were committed to cooking and serving organic foods, you had to go out of your way to find the ingredients you wanted -- tracking down hard-to-find foods meant special trips beyond your neighborhood grocery store.
But as more consumers seek out organic products for their superior quality and taste, chances are a one-stop shopping trip to your local supermarket will provide you with everything you need for your organic kitchen.
This growth in the availability of organic products is due to the law of supply and demand -- mainstream consumers are looking for better, healthier food choices for themselves and their families. In fact, recent studies by the Natural Marketing Institute show that 60 percent of U.S. consumers want their stores to have foods grown without pesticides; that's up 15 percent over last year. “When you cook with organic ingredients, you’ll notice an amazing difference in flavors and textures,” says Akasha Richmond, who caters parties for Hollywood notables such as Pierce Brosnan and Billy Bob Thornton.
In addition, if you shop for locally grown organic foods, you’ll be cooking with the seasons, following the example of professional chefs. “Using produce that’s in season means you will be cooking with food that is at its peak flavor,” says Akasha.
This spring, cooking with organic ingredients is easier than ever. Just look for “Go Organic! for Earth Day” signs at your favorite supermarket. As part of this year’s 35th anniversary of Earth Day (April 22), many major supermarket chains are joining with participating food companies to raise awareness about the benefits of choosing organic products.
Cooking with organic ingredients doesn’t require any special equipment or even any unusual cooking techniques. In fact, you’ll find that with organic ingredients, you need to do less to bring out the foods’ character. “The food already is brimming with flavor. All a cook has to do is use the food in a way that accentuates its natural goodness,” says Steve Demos, founder of White Wave, the maker of Silk Soymilk, who works with Chef Akasha to create recipes using Silk.
Here are some recipes from Akasha to inspire novice and experienced cooks alike. While these recipes are great starting points, let your own creativity and taste preferences guide you in the kitchen.
The recipe for this delicious smoothie comes from Chef Akasha and Silk:
1-1/4 cups vanilla Silk Soymilk
1 sliced, frozen banana
1/2 cup diced frozen strawberries
1/4 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon green tea powder
1/4 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1 tablespoon orange blossom honey (optional)
In blender, combine the Silk, banana, strawberries, orange juice concentrate, vanilla, green tea, orange zest and honey. Blend until smooth and creamy.
Serving Size: Serves 2
Caesar Salad with Homemade Croutons (courtesy of Chef Akasha)
Makes 6 servings
12 to 16 ½ inch slices of a small baguette, cut into quarters
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 clove peeled garlic, pressed
3 romaine lettuce hearts, washed and torn into bite sized pieces
1/3 to1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Creamy Caesar Dressing (see below)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the pressed garlic and olive oil and toss with the bread pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Bake on a cookie sheet for 10 to 15 minutes, or until they are crisp and golden around the edges. Let cool.
In a large bowl, toss the romaine with some of the dressing. Garnish with cheese and croutons.
Creamy Caesar Dressing
1 tablespoon white miso
1 small clove peeled garlic
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup unsweetened Silk Soymilk
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In a blender, puree the miso, garlic, lime juice, soymilk, olive oil and cheese until smooth and creamy.
Courtesy of ARA Content