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The Dirty Dozen

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Leanne Ely, CNC: I get asked all the time about using organic food to healthfully feed your family. My answer, invariably, is, "Yes, go as organic and as natural as you can afford to" If going "all the way" isn't possible, at least go with some organic produce. Don't worry: I've got a resource that will help you prioritize.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) publishes a Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce and came up with this list called "The Dirty Dozen": The twelve fruits and vegetables that they have found to be the most contaminated. The list goes from number one (strawberries) as being the worst, to number twelve (cucumbers) as being the best of the bad.

You can get a full copy of this report by sending $18 (by check) to Environmental Working Group, 1718 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 600, Washington, D.C. 20009.

The Dirty Dozen

1. Strawberries
2. Bell peppers (tied with spinach)
2. Spinach (tied with bell peppers)
4. Cherries (grown in the U.S.)
5. Peaches
6. Cantaloupe (grown in Mexico)
7. Celery
8. Apples
9. Apricots
10. Green beans
11. Grapes (grown in Chile)
12. Cucumbers

Nutrient-rich food is always a top consideration when feeding your family, whether the food is organic or not. It is important to make each meal count. Some food is simply better than other food. You will get significantly more nutrition with a meal of salmon than you fill from, say, fillet of sole. Same goes with veggies: Dark green, leafy types of lettuces are heads above common iceberg lettuce (pun intended).

Here are some recipes using commonly found organic, nutrient-rich foods that will help your family thrive!

Garlic Lemon Salmon
Serves 4

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic
2 teaspoon lemon pepper
4 4-oz. salmon fillets (try to get wild salmon)
Lemon wedges
2 tablespoons olive oil

Melt butter and olive oil together in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
Add garlic, stirring rapidly, but don't let brown.
Season salmon on both sides with lemon pepper.
Place fillets in skillet and cook until fish flakes when tested with a fork.
Flip salmon halfway through cooking to brown on both sides.
Serve with lemon wedges.

Per Serving: 249 Calories; 16g Fat; 23g Protein; 2g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 74mg Cholesterol; 305mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain (Starch); 3 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 2 1/2 Fat.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Serves 4

2 large organic sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Boil sweet potatoes until soft, and drain.
With a potato masher, mash sweet potatoes and add butter and milk.
Add a touch of maple syrup, nutmeg and cinnamon; stir well to incorporate.

Per Serving: 224 Calories; 4g Fat; 3g Protein; 46g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 10mg Cholesterol; 59mg Sodium. Exchanges: 2 Grain (Starch); 1/2 Fat; 1 Other Carbohydrates.

Roasted Broccoli
Serves 4

1 pound organic broccoli flowerets
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Spread broccoli in the bottom of a shallow baking dish in one layer.
Add the garlic and drizzle with the olive oil.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Toss broccoli to combine.
Roast broccoli till tender, about 20 minutes or so. Broccoli should be slightly brown.

Per Serving: 190 Calories; 7g Fat; 7g Protein; 13g Carbohydrate; 7g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 62mg Sodium. Exchanges: 2 1/2 Vegetable; 2 1/2 Fat.

Leanne Ely is the New York Times bestselling author of "Body Clutter" and the "Saving Dinner" series. Her "Dinner Diva" syndicated column appears in 250 newspapers nationwide. Learn how to cook great and save significant money with the Dinner Diva's menus, recipes and shopping lists at

next: Goodbye Halloween Treats, Hello Turkey Sweets!
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