If you're looking to shake up your breakfast routine or need some extra inspiration for afternoon nibbles, Purely Elizabeth will instantly elevate your pantry. This brand makes granola and snacks that bake superfoods like chia seeds and quinoa into every bite. For even more pure eating tips, don’t miss the new cookbook Eating Purely: More Than 100 All-Natural, Organic, Gluten-Free Recipes for a Healthy Life, where founder Elizabeth Stein shares her clean eating principles and favorite easy (and mostly plant-based) recipes.
1. What inspired you to start Purely Elizabeth?
While in school to become a holistic nutritionist, I learned about incredible superfood ingredients and realized they weren’t being incorporated into the products we see on our grocery shelves. I wanted to create the most nutrient-rich, delicious recipes for everyday people so they could live healthier and happier lifestyles. Purely Elizabeth was simply an extension of that idea on a much grander scale to really make a difference beyond my small New York clientele, and branch out nationally. It started off as a small side project, but as interest and publicity kept growing, I realized creating healthier, better-tasting food products was my true passion.
2. What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to young female entrepreneurs?
My biggest piece of advice is to go after your dreams and don’t let anything hold you back. When I started I was so naive, and that allowed me to not get in my own way. I just asked as many questions as I could and dove in head first. It’s so important to follow that thing inside of you that makes you want to wake up every morning excited for the road ahead. I’m incredibly grateful to have followed that inner calling which led me to where I am today.
3. If you had to pick a favorite product from your company, what would it be and why?
Our OG granola because that’s what truly pivoted the brand and got us to where we are today. Plus, it’s the perfect flavor—it goes with anything.
Healthy indulgence never tasted so good. Instead of making a custard base with sugar and cream, this frosty dessert blends up creamy avocados with coconut milk and a protein powder that delivers 20g of protein per serving and zero added sugar. Maple syrup adds sweetness, and a scoop of matcha powder lends a pop of color. We recommend letting it chill for a few hours to get a firmer scoop...but if you just can’t wait, serve it up fro-yo style right after blending.
Matcha N’Ice Cream
Yield: 2 to 3 servings
Active Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours
In most cases, when it comes to chocolate, more is definitely more. But does this rule apply when we’re talking about chocolate percentages? Is a 70 percent chocolate bar better in quality or healthy benefits than a 60 percent bar? What is a chocolate percentage anyway? If you’ve ever been confused by the numbers displayed on a chocolate bar label, you’re not alone. After all, chocolate is supposed to be a treat, not a math problem. The truth is that percentages can help you break down how much chocolate is actually in a bar, as well as give insight into its flavor profile. Chocolate percentages can also help you make informed choices when it comes to choosing sweets that fit your dietary needs. Let’s take a closer look at understanding chocolate by the numbers.
What are Percentages in Chocolate?
When you see a percentage listed on a chocolate bar or product, the number refers to how much of the product, by weight, is made from cacao beans or parts thereof (like cocoa butter, chocolate liquor or cocoa solids). This percentage can be used to measure the sweetness, flavor, and intensity of the bar. For example, a bar that is labeled 60 percent will be sweeter and less intensely rich than an 80 percent bar. In addition, percentages in dark chocolate can help determine sugar content since dark chocolate is typically made from cacao beans, sugar, and possibly vanilla or lecithin. So a 70 percent dark chocolate bar most likely contains about 30 percent sugar.
What is the Healthiest Percentage in Dark Chocolate?
Put simply, the higher the percentage of cacao beans, the healthier the chocolate since the sugar content is reduced. However, the purest form of dark chocolate is comprised of 85 to 100 percent cacao beans, which is nearly impossible to enjoy on its own due to its bitter flavor. This type of chocolate (known as unsweetened chocolate) is typically used for baking. When it comes to healthy snacking, 70 percent dark chocolate is a good choice to get the flavor you’re craving while also getting a dose of the antioxidant benefits of dark chocolate. However, it’s important to note that percentages relate to quantity and not quality. Each component of the manufacturing process, from fermentation to drying, can potentially alter the antioxidant levels of the final product. Here’s a tip: Look for preservative-free brands that work to keep the integrity of the chocolate intact every step of the way.
Does a Higher Percentage in Chocolate Mean Less Carbs?
Generally speaking, yes. The higher the cacao percentage in a chocolate bar, the less room there is for additional fillers like sugar (which increase the product’s carb content). If you’re following the keto diet, for example, you can satisfy those chocolate cravings by reaching for a piece of high-percentage dark chocolate. Look for keto-friendly bars that contain more fat than the protein and carb content combined.
How Much Cacao Is in Milk Chocolate vs. Dark Chocolate?
You probably already know that not all chocolate is created equal. In fact, there are some key differences when it comes to milk versus dark chocolate. According to the FDA, milk chocolate must have a minimum of 10 percent cocoa solids and 12 percent milk solids (condensed milk, cream, dried milk, milk powder, etc.) to be considered milk chocolate. Unlike milk chocolate, dark chocolate does not contain milk solids and is primarily made of cacao beans, sugar, and an emulsifier such as soy lecithin. Dark chocolate can range from a 30 percent cacao content (sweet dark) to above 80 percent for extremely dark bars.
Best Chocolate Products by Percentage
From delicate to bold, these sweet treats cover the full chocolate spectrum.
Endorfin Foods Caramelized Coconut 54% Cacao Chocolate Bar
Milk chocolate gets a modern spin with coconut instead of dairy. With 54 percent cacao and 46 percent coconut sugar and caramelized coconut, this decadent bar is vegan and paleo-friendly.
Cacoco 65% Golden Dark Drinking Chocolate
Hot chocolate just got a major upgrade thanks to this superfood-infused drinking chocolate, made of 65 percent golden dark chocolate, turmeric, maca, and cardamom. Just add to hot water and enjoy a soothing sip.
Theo Chocolate 70% Cocoa Orange Organic Dark Chocolate
Zesty and creamy, this unexpected combo pairs organic, sustainably farmed 70 percent dark chocolate with the essence of fresh oranges.
EatingEvolved Almond & Sea Salt Primal Chocolate
Craving a crunchy snack? Sink your teeth into organic sprouted almonds surrounded by 72 percent cacao. Each paleo-friendly bar includes organic cacao, organic cane sugar, organic coconut butter, organic almonds, and a pinch of Himalayan sea salt.
Pascha Organic 85% Dark Chocolate Chips
Perfect for cookies, muffins, scones, and anything requiring a little chocolatey richness, these 85 percent bittersweet chips are dairy-, gluten-, soy-, and egg-free.
Thrive Market Organic Paleo Dark Chocolate 95%
Our 95 percent dark chocolate is about as intense as it gets! The extremely dark, paleo-friendly bar is made with just two ingredients: ethically sourced, stone-ground cacao and a touch of coconut sugar.
If hungry sports fans are set to invade your home this season, let Thrive Market help you get prepared. Chef Megan Mitchell is back on Prep School to help you make your next appetizer spread totally crave-worthy ... and vegan!
The Ultimate Vegan Nachos
Instead of pulled pork or ground beef, we use a mix of jackfruit, black beans, corn, and southwest seasoning for a vegan alternative to this game-day staple. According to Chef Megan Mitchell, the worst part of nachos is biting into a chip with nothing on it, which is why she recommends layering the nachos. That way every chip has a bit of goodness on top, including melted vegan cheese!
Pour jackfruit mixture into a medium skillet and season with a large pinch of salt. Cook over medium heat, until warmed through. Off heat, stir in the ¼ cup chopped cilantro.
Pour both packets of cheeze sauce into a small saucepan; heat on medium-low and stir often to keep from burning. Once warm, remove from heat.
Pour all the chips into a large bowl and set out a serving platter. To build the nachos, spread ⅓ of the chips as an even layer. Scoop ⅓ of the jackfruit mixture over the chips, followed by ⅓ of the cheeze sauce. Next, sprinkle on some of the tomatoes, avocado cubes, and jalapeño pieces. Repeat twice more, for a total of three layers. Sprinkle remaining cilantro leaves over the top and serve immediately.
Buffalo Cauliflower Bites With Blue Cheeze Sauce
With a few key ingredients, this popular bar food is easy to turn into a vegan appetizer at home. Cauliflower stands in for chicken, and the blue “cheeze” dipping sauce can be enjoyed by all.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add cauliflower florets and cook for 3 minutes, then remove, drain, and let cool.
Fill a medium-sized Dutch oven halfway with vegetable oil. Heat over medium high, until oil reaches 375°F. Whisk cassava flour, cornstarch, baking powder, black pepper, garlic powder, and 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Pour in the soda water and whisk until a thick batter forms. If the batter is too loose, add a bit more cassava flour. (It should resemble pancake batter.)
Add the blanched cauliflower to the batter and gently mix until coated. Working in batches, fry the cauliflower until golden brown and crispy, about 2 minutes. Drain on a towel-lined baking sheet and continue frying the remaining florets.
Place fried cauliflower into a shallow bowl and pour some of the wing sauce over the top, gently tossing until each floret is lightly coated. Arrange on a large platter and serve alongside celery sticks and blue cheeze dressing for dipping.
Mac and Cheeze Balls
Vegan and gluten-free mac and cheese? Yes, please! Chef Megan Mitchell calls this recipe the perfect little vegan bite. Crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside, you can eat the bites alone or dip them in marinara sauce.
Yield: 18 to 20 balls
Active time: 45 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta for 8 minutes, or until tender; drain and return to the pot. Squeeze both cheeze sauce packets over the noodles and stir. Pour mac and cheeze onto a quarter-sheet tray and spread in an even layer; refrigerate for 1 hour.
Fill a medium-sized Dutch oven halfway with vegetable oil. Heat over medium high, until oil reaches 350°F.
While the oil heats up, form the balls, scoop the chilled mac and cheeze into golf ball-sized rounds and line them on a sheet tray. (Use a ¼-cup ice cream scoop for consistency). Next, set up your dredging station. Place the cornstarch in a shallow bowl, the vegan egg in a second shallow bowl, and the panko in a third shallow bowl. If needed, thin the egg with a bit of water; it should be loose and viscous.
Place 1 ball in the cornstarch, rolling to coat. Then dip ball into the egg, and finish with a coating of panko. Repeat with remaining balls, lining them on the sheet tray once again. When the oil is heated, fry 3 to 4 balls at a time; drain on a paper towel-lined tray. Serve immediately.
With grilling season underway, we couldn’t think of a better time to round up the best advice about all things beef. As you can imagine, there are some pretty serious home cooks working at Thrive Market, so we turned to our colleagues to get input on favorite cuts, outstanding recipes, and surefire serving tips. We hope it gives you some ideas for your next meal.
Senior Data Analyst Lauren, who loves to cook for large family gatherings, always adds ground beef to her family’s favorite tomato sauce. “We have it most often with zoodles, but I’ll make spaghetti for a special treat once in a while,” she says.
Just like grandma used to make! Serve these up with a tangle of spaghetti at your next Sunday supper and you’ll be starting the week off right.
New York Strip
Retention Manager Michelle loves New York strip steak because it’s a thicker cut. “I learned from J. Kenji López-Alt to cook them in cast iron, one minute on the first side then flipping every 30 seconds until they're medium rare,” she says. On the side, she likes to serve a sautéed or roasted veggie using this Asian-inspired marinade from Emeril Lagasse. Another great way to cook New York strip comes courtesy of Senior Creative Project Manager Jen, who favors a reverse-sear approach. “Start low in the oven and finish it off in a cast-iron skillet on the grill. Serve it with either charred broccolini with lemon and chili flakes or a kale salad—and a glass of cabernet.”
Skip the carbs and swap in cauliflower rice for the base of this hearty bowl. New York strip, skirt, or flank steaks all work well here—just be sure to cut against the grain to keep every bite tender.
When you ask three Thrivers to weigh on on the best way to cook a ribeye steak, you’ll get three different answers. Retention Manager Casey loves to sauté this cut in ghee with mushrooms, onions, and broccolini. VP of Member Services Doug slices it and grills it on a skewer that’s served alongside rice and veggies, while Executive Assistant Yasmine cooks it straight in a hot pan.
Try It: Thrive Market 100% Grass-Fed Ribeye
This steak has many monikers like Delmonico steak, Spencer steak, and beauty steak. Regardless of what you call it, this cut comes from the center of the rib steak and is extra flavorful thanks to its signature marbled fat.
This sweet recipe marries perfectly cooked steak with a cherry-infused steak sauce. Tomato paste, cumin, and apple cider vinegar are some of the secret ingredients that bring it all together.
Rib Eye with Cherry Steak Sauce - YouTube
When it’s steak night at Senior Graphic Designer Andrea’s house, she alternates between carne asada or grilling skirt steak that’s been doused in a balsamic vinegar marinade. It adds the perfect flavor when served over a bed of greens with cherry tomatoes.
Skirt steak is typically the top choice for dishes like salads, stir-frys, and fajitas. It cooks up quickly (making it a weeknight dinner time-saver) and is great at soaking up marinades for rich flavor every time.
You’ll love this traditional Peruvian stir-fry known as lomo saltado. The recipe is from popular Los Angeles chef Ricardo Zarate, who loves serving comforting homestyle dishes to hungry diners.
Lomo Saltado - YouTube
For a satisfying dish, Member Services Team Lead Lanae turns to pot roast. “First, sauté onions and garlic, deglaze with red wine, add beef broth, thyme, onions, and rosemary, then pour it over seared chuck roast and cook it low and slow for about two to three hours. Then, add some Yukon Gold potatoes and continue to let it cook for another two hours. Voila! Yummy pot roast.”
This easy recipe is practically fool-proof with melt-in-your-mouth results. The sauce, which is made with onions, tomato paste, fresh thyme, and bone broth, will get rave reviews from every member of the family.
If you’re looking for a wine that’s right at home alongside a juicy, grilled steak, look no further than the Las Cepas Rioja Costalarbol. This bottle is made from three grape varieties grown on a Spanish vineyard that’s been producing wine for the past 500 years. The estate transitioned to organic farming in 1996, and the family continues to embrace natural agricultural practices that allow each wine’s unique characteristics to shine through. We reached out to winemaker Alberto Ramírez to learn more. Read on for our interview!
What farming practices are important to you, and how do they differ from conventional, large-scale methods?
Our organic vineyards coexist in a natural environment with high biodiversity around the farm. We use manure instead of fertilizers and don’t use synthetic herbicides or pesticides, which prevents any residue from ending up in the wine. These practices allow us to truly respect the environment.
And how are your winemaking practices different from large-scale producers?
The success of our wines may largely depend on the Graciano varietal, which is very difficult to grow. It requires limited humidity and mild temperatures. We hand-select these grapes from the best plots, collect them in boxes, and individually process these grapes in the cellar. We only add native yeasts, keep sulfur levels to a minimum, and ferment the wine for six months in French oak barrels.
What do you look for in a wine?
In all of our wines, we look for the same qualities: wine that calls us to continue drinking, with a long and pleasant finish.
What are some of your fondest memories involving good wine?
One memory is of my grandparents at the family winery in our village. Everyone was meeting and enjoying great bottles of wine!
What's your favorite way to enjoy this wine?
With good company! It’s also ideal for serving with good meat or barbeque.
It’s a cold October morning, well before sunrise, and a handful of Thrive Market employees are huddled in the Bien Nacido Vineyard in Santa Maria, a haven for winemaking in California’s Central Coast region. It’s chilly, even for California, but there’s an electric feeling in the vineyard, fueled by the occasional mysterious vortex of warm air. Surrounded by endless rows of grape vines lit by the full moon overheard, we’ve been invited here by Bob Lindquist, winemaker and founding partner of Qupé Wine Sellers, to experience something magical: a Biodynamic wine harvest.
Scheduled according to the lunar calendar, the harvest will last only a few hours, with teams of pickers moving swiftly in a race against the approaching daylight. The air carries a blend of ranchera music, the shuffle of boots, and the rhythmic squeak of tractors loaded to the brim with glossy black grapes. As quickly and quietly as it began, the harvest is over—the sun has breached the horizon, turning the sky shades of gold and turquoise as it begins its arc over the vineyard, warming the grapes and spiking the sugar levels inside.
This is a typical day in the life for Lindquist, who’s been making wine under the Qupé name for more than 35 years. We were lucky enough to spend time with him, observing the Biodynamic grape harvest as well as the various steps involved in making his Rhône-style wines, which include Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Roussane, and Marsanne, among others. Here, he shares his experience developing Biodynamic wines, the unique advantages of making wine in the Central Coast, and the reason why every wine drinker should know their winemaker.
You've been working in the wine industry for quite a long time. What led you to Biodynamic winemaking specifically? I started Qupé in 1982, so we've been making wine for a long time. Our path into Biodynamics really didn't start until the early 2000s at an event in Paso Robles called Hospice Du Rhone, which is an international gathering of Rhone varietal producers. There I met Philippe Armenier from Châteauneuf-du-Pape, who had just moved to California to start a Biodynamic consulting business. We met, liked each other, talked about it.
At the same conference, Steve Beckmen—a good friend of mine who owns Beckmen Winery in Los Olivos—met Philippe, and he hired him to start doing some Biodynamic experiments at Beckmen Vineyard. During that time, I got to see what Steve's results were. Because he had a pretty large vineyard, he was able to farm one section Biodynamically, one section organically, and one section sustainably, and see what the differences were in real time. In every case, the Biodynamic grapes tasted better. The vines looked healthier. Over two or three years, the soil started to improve in its texture, quality, and appearance. It really was eye-opening for Steve first, and then for me.
In May 2005, I took a sales trip to London. On my first day there, my agent said, "You know, before we go out and call on some accounts, there's a conference on Biodynamics led by Andre Ostertag and Dominique Lafon.” They’re two French winemakers who are great wine producers and friends of mine. And he said, "Would you be interested in going to this seminar?" It's like it was meant to be. I went to the seminar, heard what they had to say, and later, we all had dinner together. I told them about planting a new vineyard in the Edna Valley, and that we were thinking about Biodynamics. They said, "If you're thinking about Biodynamics, just do it. And do it from the beginning. You won't regret it." And they were right.
How would you explain Biodynamics to someone who knows nothing about it? Biodynamic farming is a form of organic farming. When I'm explaining it to consumers, I say it's kind of like organic farming to the nth degree—or a better version of organic farming. To take it a step further, it means you’re utilizing preparations that you wouldn't necessarily use in organic farming in order to help with the health of the vine, and the health of the soil.
It also involves following the lunar calendar to plant on certain days, to do certain preparations on certain days, to harvest grapes on certain days that are more beneficial than others. The concept behind Biodynamics is as old as mankind. The Native Americans and other ancient peoples figured out a long time ago that when you're farming, if you do things when the moon is so or the stars are so, you get better results. It wasn't always 100 percent, but they noticed that there was an influence of the cosmos on what they were doing.
It wasn't until the 1920s when Rudolf Steiner—considered the father of modern Biodynamics—came into the picture, and put all those ancient farming concepts into an applied "science." I use quotes for science, because a lot of people wouldn't say that it's scientific. There are scientific aspects to it, but there's also other, more spiritual aspects that, to some people may not make sense, but to other people, they make perfect sense.
Prior to seeing the benefits of Biodynamic farming, were you a bit skeptical, or were you just curious? Originally, I was a bit skeptical of Biodynamic, just because so much of it seemed odd. But when you actually start looking into it, you can choose or not choose the more unusual aspects of Biodynamic farming. The important thing is, first of all, you're farming correctly, using natural preparations and natural products. Second, you're also increasing the health of the vineyard, and the health of the soil, the health of the insects and animals that live there, the health of the other plants that live on the property. It's not a monoculture.
About the concept of the entire farm as an ecosystem or organism—how does that differ from conventional practice? Well, the idea of a farm as an organism is correct. That's one of the tenets of Biodynamic farming—to create this kind of organism that is healthy, and everything that lives there is happy, and all is good. One of the cool things about Biodynamic farming is that, while it costs more upfront than other practices, once the vineyard gets into a rhythm and the vines are responding to the way they're being farmed, there's less input that we have to do. It just gets into this kind of natural growing cycle.
What are some of the main benefits of Biodynamic farming?
To me, one of the appeals of Biodynamic farming is that the grapes—or any other foods you’re growing—will end up tasting better. With grapes especially, you get more of a sense of place, the terroir of where you're actually growing the grapes. When the grapes are made into wine, those flavors and characteristics become magnified through the winemaking process. By the time you have a finished bottle of wine, especially after it has a little bit of age, then you can really see how Biodynamics worked for that particular bottle.
With Biodynamic farming, you also create a healthier plant, a healthier vine, or any other kind of plant as well. You're not allowed to use synthetic herbicides, pesticides, fungicides. Those are strictly verboten, as they would be in organic farming, as well. The main inputs that we put on the soil, grapes, and leaves are special, natural preparations that are exclusive really to Biodynamic farming. If you're going to do Biodynamic farming, and especially if you're going to certify the vineyard, you have to follow a certain protocol. There are only certain things that you're allowed to spray on the soil or on the vines.
Can you tell us a bit more about those preparations?
Well, there are many different ones. The two main preparations are called 500 and 501. The 500 is made from cow manure that’s been buried in a horn in the vineyard and allowed to sort of gestate underground for six months. Then it's pulled up from the ground. You take that cow manure and start spreading it into other preparations, like a water preparation to spray on the vines. The 501 is silica that's crushed and buried in the cow horn for six months, where it's allowed to kind of do its thing, work its magic. Some people have a problem with the concept, but I just know it works. I don't really know how it works—it just does.
Then there are other preparations that are made from valerian, horsetail, nettles, or dandelions. There's a whole range of them that we use at different times, and in different ways.
Are 500 and 501 non-negotiable if you're going to be Biodynamic?
Correct. Totally non-negotiable. If you don't use those preparations, you're not Biodynamic. There are other preparations that you would include, as well, and composts and so forth. That's all part of being Biodynamic—especially if you're going to be certified.
You mentioned the lunar cycles and harvesting by moon. Is there something to that as well?
Well, the moon especially has kind of a push-pull effect on the tides and on plants. You can see that sometimes with certain young plants; when the moon is a certain way, the plants will perk up, and other times, they will not. There is a cycle that we try to follow, where it's going to be most advantageous to pick, or most advantageous to spray the 500, or most advantageous to spray the 501.
It's a little bit complicated. We continue to use a consultant to help guide our way. Again, we just know that it works. If you can't pick on a certain day because the winery is full, there's not a truck available, there's a heat wave or rain coming, you still try to do the best you can. You can't always get it just right. If you get most things right, your results are going to be worth it.
How does the experience of Biodynamics and the flavor of the grapes compare to what you've experienced before? What I tend to notice with Biodynamic fruit and Biodynamic vineyards is that the vineyard just naturally looks better. The grapes are just naturally healthy. For example, we had a five-year drought that ended a little over a year ago. During the drought, the Sawyer Lindquist vineyard—which was farmed Biodynamically—managed to stay healthier. It didn't suffer as much as I saw in other vineyards during that really dry period. I think the vines were healthier, and they were able to survive it better.
What makes the Central Coast such a unique and special place to grow and produce wine? It's the climate. The soil here is appropriate, also, but what really sets this area apart is the climate. It's the only place on the coast of California where the mountains and valleys run east-west instead of north-south. They're kind of like open windows to the ocean. During the summer, when it's hot inland, it helps draw in coolness off the Pacific. The Pacific Ocean acts as our natural air conditioner all summer long.
We have similar degree days to some of the classic growing areas in Europe. The Rhone Valley has a colder spring and a colder fall, and a warmer summer. We have a warmer spring, a warmer fall, and a cooler summer. The net result is somewhat similar, but we arrive there on a different path.
Why do you feel it’s important for consumers to know their winemaker? In winemaking, it's all about the ingredients—meaning, you have to have quality grapes. The way we make wine here is using very traditional techniques that have been thought through by the Europeans over centuries. Small open-top fermenters, manual punch down for the reds, barrel fermentation in French oak barrels for the whites.
These are techniques that have been used for centuries. Frankly, they really haven't been improved upon. They've been tweaked and experimented with, there have been different methods to cut costs or make shortcuts—and sure, some of them work just fine. But we do things the old-fashioned way. There are plenty of other winemakers who follow this same kind of protocol to make their wines, and there are a lot of mass-produced wines, just like there are a lot of McDonald's. It just depends on what you're looking for, what you want, what you want to spend. It costs more to make wine the way we're making it, but hopefully, customers will recognize that the cost is worth it.
If it tastes good, and it feels good, and you know that the wine was made in a way that's clean and doesn’t have any preservatives, I feel better about that. I think customers would feel better about that. That's the difference.
Would you call your wines natural wines, or clean wines? That's actually kind of an interesting question, because there's really nothing that defines what a natural wine is. To me, wine that's certified Biodynamic is kind of the gold standard of a natural wine. One of the significant differences is that we're allowed to add sulfur to Biodynamic wines. That's because people who make Biodynamic wines recognize the importance of sulfur as a natural preservative, to allow wine to age the way that we're used to it aging. Sure, you can make wine without sulfur, but the odds are not good for that wine lasting very long. You need to drink it fresh, you need to drink it young.
There are always exceptions, but sulfur is a natural, organic product that naturally helps prevent oxidation. That's one of the big enemies of wine—oxidation. Wine doesn't have quite enough alcohol to preserve it naturally, and we don't want to add other things to it besides sulfur that would help preserve it. One of the cool things about Biodynamic certification is that you're only allowed to add a certain amount of sulfur, and it's such a low level that the consumer wouldn't know it's there—other than the fact that the wine would spoil if the sulfur wasn't there.
You have ownership of this process from start to finish, from farming the grapes to bottling the wines. What significance does that have for you?
If you know how it was raised, and how it was grown, all the way to the time it goes into the bottle, you can control the process. If it tastes good, and it feels good, and you know that the wine was made in a way that's clean and doesn’t have any preservatives, I feel better about that. I think customers would feel better about that. That's the difference.
Again, to me, Biodynamic is kind of the gold standard of organic grape-growing and winemaking. It's such an interesting natural process that never gets boring. It continues to inspire and give great flavor and character to the grapes, and then to the wine. If it says on the label that a wine is made from Biodynamic grapes, or if it's Demeter-certified Biodynamic wine, that means something. It doesn't mean that all wine that doesn't say that isn't good, because there are plenty of great wines that aren’t Biodynamic. But it's another level of knowledge for the consumer, another thing to look for on the label, to ensure that what's in that bottle is clean.
Your wife is also a winemaker. What’s it like being in the same business but making different varietals? My wife, Louisa, is a winemaker as well. She makes wines under the Verdad label, also from the Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard and also Demeter-certified Biodynamic. She specializes in Spanish varieties, and then together, we make a small amount of Pinot Noir under the Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard label. Luckily, the wines that we make don't compete with each other. I make a lot more Qupé wines—about 30,000 cases a year—and under the Verdad label, Louisa makes about 3,000 cases.
Working together, doing the same job, is similar to if you were both chefs, or you were both actors—you tend to bring your work home with you. Sometimes that's good; sometimes you need to talk about other things. It's all about balance and figuring out what works and what doesn't work in that kind of relationship.
What do you love about wine making? Why devote your life to it? It's just one of those things that I kind of fell into. When I was in college, I liked wine, but didn't really know much about it other than the fact that I liked it. My first job when I got out of college was working for this small advertising company, and one of our clients was a wine shop. One time, I did some work for the guy, and he said, "You know, how about if I pay you in wine instead of paying you in money?" I said, "Okay, great, I like wine."
He gave me some bottles that were $8 to $10 each, retail. This was back in 1975, so that was a lot of money for a bottle of wine back then, when my budget would have been $2 or $3 for a bottle of wine. I took those bottles home, and I opened the first one, tasted it, and it's like—man, I didn't know wine could be this good. From that moment on, I never stopped wanting to learn, never stopped wanting to improve what I do with wine. It is a constant learning process. You really never stop learning.
Give your favorite feline a treat she’ll love, featuring a new product from pet brand I and Love and You. While this meal enhancer is intended to be sprinkled on top of kibble, we love this tasty spin that turns it into a snack using pantry ingredients like tuna and oats.
Cat-Friendly Fishy Cakes
Yield: 9 servings
Active Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend until well combined. Roll a 1-tablespoon scoop in the palm of your hand until smooth. Lightly flatten and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining cakes. Serve immediately, and refrigerate leftovers for up to 1 week.
The Thrive Gives program is one of the things we're most proud of at Thrive Market, because it helps us deliver on our mission to make healthy living easy and affordable for every American family. New to Thrive Gives? It's simple: For every paid member who joins Thrive Market, we provide a free membership for someone in need—primarily teachers, students, low-income families, veterans, and first responders around the country.
This month, we're introducing you to Hannah, a Thrive Gives member, and her daughter, Mary. As a busy mom of six in Indiana, Hannah relies on her Thrive Gives membership to access healthy food and household products for her family. Meet Hannah (and Mary!) in the video above, and read on to learn more about their story.
You've been a Thrive Gives member for two years now. What makes up a typical order for you?
I most frequently order digestive enzymes, collagen, hemp hearts, baobab powder, cod liver oil, Thrive Market coconut milk, and MCT oil for Mary’s food. But I also often order hair and skin care products, as Mary and I have sensitive skin, as well as allergen-free products for our daughter with food allergies.
What are some of Mary's favorite products that you order from Thrive Market?
Mary is tube-fed but has very sensitive digestion. So I’m going to say her favorite products are the digestive enzymes and the MCT oil that allow her to digest her food more easily and get the energy she needs efficiently.
Any favorite products among the other members of your family?
You mention in the video that you started making a lot of Mary's food yourself. How has ordering from Thrive Market helped with that effort?
I love the Thrive Market app, [especially] how easy it is to place an order straight from my phone when I start running low on something as I’m making Mary’s food. And I love that so many “health foods” I use for her are available at the lowest price in one place!
What are your best tips for shopping on Thrive Market?
I really appreciate the Favorites list. I also love to check out the deals and free gifts available whenever I’m ordering.
If you weren't ordering from Thrive Market, what would your process of getting healthy food look like?
I rarely get a good opportunity to go shopping by myself, so my shopping prioritizes ease and simplicity. Going to multiple stores is just not an option, and there are a number of foods I buy for Mary that would require extra stops. It’s so nice to be able to order them through Thrive Market instead and never bother with [deal-hunting] or running around to multiple stores for the different ingredients!
You mention that contamination and ingredient changes are things you worry about in preparing food for Mary. How has your membership helped to alleviate some of those concerns?
Basically, I trust that Thrive Market isn’t buying and distributing contaminated products that could have been repackaged by someone looking to make extra money. I have concerns with some other online retailers that I might get a repackaged or old product. So Thrive Market is where I prefer to order from, especially for products for Mary, who is especially sensitive.
Can you describe a typical day of preparing meals for your family? Do you meal prep or have other helpful kitchen hacks you'd like to share?
We eat a "real" breakfast almost every day, which is funny since I grew up just grabbing a bowl of cereal. It’s usually eggs in some form, but we also do oatmeal sometimes. These days my oldest usually makes part of breakfast, so I think that would be my first prep tip: If you have kids, teach them to help! It pays big dividends as they learn! We keep lunch simple, eating the same thing most days. My kids don’t always appreciate it, but it keeps me sane.
My biggest tip—other than getting kids involved—is freezer prepping and an Instant Pot. I make simple, dump-and-freeze freezer dinners at the beginning of each month that can go directly in the Instant Pot from frozen. I use my Instant Pot almost every single night unless it’s grill season! This helps us immensely. I’m often at appointments with Mary, but this makes it still easy to have someone else prep meals while I’m gone. Since we also have a daughter with food allergies, it’s great not to be reliant on prepared foods she wouldn’t be able to eat. Doing this didn’t come naturally to me, as I’m not a type A personality, but I often say it’s one way God has helped me keep my sanity in an otherwise insane schedule and season of life!
Steel-cut oats, rolled oats, oatmeal … breakfast shouldn’t be confusing (especially if you haven’t had your morning coffee yet). That’s why we’re breaking down the difference between steel-cut oats versus oatmeal. Most oatmeal recipes call for rolled oats or quick-cooking oats, but steel-cut oats are a great option for a heartier take on this popular breakfast. Some porridges are even made with other grains such as quinoa or millet. The sky really is the limit when it comes to this comforting and warm morning meal.
What Are Steel-Cut Oats?
Steel-cut oats have a few different monikers, like Irish Oats or Scottish Oats. The groats—the whole grain that contains the germ and bran—are cut into small pieces with a sharp metal blade that gives the grain a look that’s similar to rice. The earthy, toothsome flavor makes for a hearty bowl, but beware: steel-cut oats take longer to cook than rolled oats.
How to Make Overnight Steel-Cut Oats
For lovers of steel-cut oats, here’s the good news: you can prep breakfast the night before so it’s practically done when you wake up. Just place 1 cup of steel-cut oats and 4 cups of water into a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat, cover, and leave it on the stovetop overnight. In the morning, you’ll just need to simmer the oats for five to ten minutes to warm them through and absorb any remaining liquid before serving.
Health Benefits of Steel-Cut Oats
Steel-cut oats are known for having a lower glycemic index value and can be helpful for managing blood sugar, especially for diabetics. A ¼ cup serving of rolled oats from Bob’s Red Mill contains:
4 grams of dietary fiber
5 grams of protein
13 milligrams of calcium
2 milligrams of iron
What Is Oatmeal?
Oatmeal is a popular porridge-like breakfast made of whole grains like rolled oats, millet, amaranth, buckwheat, or quinoa. Rolled oats are the most popular option when it comes to cooking up a quick batch. Rolled oats are groats that have been steamed, then flattened, and because they have a bigger surface area, they cook up a lot quicker than steel-cut oats. (Great for busy mornings when you need something a little more instant!) And speaking of instant, instant oats exist—they’re more processed than rolled oats, having been pre-cooked, dried out, and rolled out paper thin.
Health Benefits of Oatmeal
Whether you choose rolled oats or steel-cut oats to make your oatmeal, the nutritional benefits are similar. Since rolled oats are more processed than their steel-cut counterparts, read your labels carefully to avoid any options that include extra sugar or chemicals. Studies have shown oatmeal to be one of the ingredients that can help lower cholesterol, making it a great way to start your morning if you’re looking to manage your health.
The Best Oats Products
From practically instant oatmeals to steel-cut, find the best oat product that’s right for you.
Bob’s Red Mill Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
These rolled oats are a chewy and wholesome cereal that’ll help you feel energized in the a.m. You can also use them in cookie, granola, and bread recipes, too.
Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Steel-Cut Oats
This gluten-free bag of oats has been put through the ringer in terms of testing. Each farm delivery is sampled hundreds of times and undergoes an R5 ELISA gluten test to ensure there’s no gluten to be found. The oats are also packaged up in a completely GF facility to maintain purity.
McCann’s Steel-Cut Irish Oatmeal
McCann’s Irish Oatmeal tins have been lovingly stored in pantries around the world for more than 150 years. It’s made from whole-grain Irish oats and delivers vitamins and other nutrients to fuel your day.
Thrive Market Organic Gluten-Free Rolled Oats
These organic rolled oats are perfect if you love oatmeal but have gluten sensitivities. The bag is free of artificial ingredients and preservatives, and can be added to your baked goods with ease.
Bob’s Red Mill Organic Quick Cooking Rolled Oats
No time for breakfast? This bag has your back. The oats are pounded thin so they cook almost instantly on the stove or in the microwave.
Bob’s Red Mill Organic Coconut and Pineapple Oatmeal Cup
Take your tastebuds to the tropics with this tasty breakfast of oats, flaxseed, chia seed, and fruit. Just add hot water and your meal is served!
Three Bears Wild Blueberry Oatmeal Cup
If you have food allergies, you’ll want to stock up on these oatmeal cups—they’re free of the 8 top allergens and feature a mix of GF instant oats with probiotics and dried fruit.
Best Oatmeal Recipes
Oats are a versatile ingredient for all sorts of dishes including breakfast (obviously) to dessert (oh, yeah) and even savory dinners.
Oatmeal isn’t just for breakfast. This savory bowl stirs rolled oats with pantry ingredients like protein powder, nutritional yeast, and garlic powder, then tops it with roasted veggies. It’s ready in 30 minutes!
Next, take those favorite cookie flavors and stick them in your breakfast smoothie. Fuel yourself on the go with oat milk, protein powder, cinnamon, maple syrup, and raisins. It also makes a great after-school stack for kiddos.