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Published on 4 January, 2012, by

It’s a new year and that means people all over the world are gearing up to be the very best they can be. Instead of just focusing on weight loss in 2012, some of us are focusing on better overall health. That’s why the Virtual Potluck Bloggers have teamed up with Bob’s Red Mill (BRM) and California Olive Ranch(COR) (like this GrooVy Foody did back in December for their “Bake a Better Holiday”) to bring you “A Tasty and Healthy New Year Challenge.”

Each week the VP participants will cook up their fabulous BRM/COR Healthy New Year offerings and GIVE YOU A CHANCE TO WIN A BOB’S RED MILL/CALIFORNIA OLIVE RANCH PRIZE PACKAGE! (See details below.)

Virtual Potluck’s January 2012 mission

Duration: 4 weeks during January 2012

Challenge: To develop, inspire, create – 1 recipe per week for a 4-course meal, over course of month’s time

Ingredients: 1 new California Olive Ranch Olive Oil paired with 1 fresh Bob’s Red Mill product every week  (see schedule below)

Participants:  Virtual Potluck Members at 12 blogging outposts around the country

Week 1: Appetizer – Hard White Whole Wheat Flour – Arbequina extra virgin olive oil
Week 2: Side Dish – Grande Whole Grains Blend – Miller’s Blend extra virgin olive oil
Week 3: The Main Event– Quinoa Grain – Arbosana extra virgin olive oil
Week 4: Dessert – Whole Wheat Pastry Flour – Everyday Fresh California extra virgin olive oil

(Some may branch off from this schedule, so don’t be surprised to find different pairings or different types of dishes.)

The Virtual Potluck Bloggers


A little extra focus on health is always in fashion over at Diabetic Foodie where Shelby whips up culinary creations that won’t spike your blood sugar but still taste divine.

Warm Herbed Goat Cheese with Homemade Whole Wheat Pita Breadusing the Arbequina and Hard White Whole Wheat Flour. I made the pita bread dough in a bread machine, then rolled it out in individual rounds and baked it. It was so much fun to see it puff up in the oven. Once it puffed, it stayed puffed – even after it cooled – so when you sliced it in half, there was already a built-in pocket (no trying to peel the two layers apart and then tearing the bread as with store-bought).For our second week, Shelby has set out to dazzle you with her sumptuous Onions Stuffed with Grande Grains, Currants and Pine Nuts and week 3 brings a hearty Quinoa and Lentil Chili.

Proving that healthy doesn’t have to mean deprivation, Heather over at Farmgirl Gourmet decided to make an orange infused baked (not fried!) donut using the Hard White Whole Wheat Flour and Arbequina Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  The donuts came out light and moist and needed only a quick dusting of confectioners’ sugar.

Coming up for Weeks 2-4 will be a “Homemade Spicy Sausage & Grande Whole Grains Stuffing”, a Pear and Bacon Quinoa Pizza and lastly a “Peach Upside-Down Whole Wheat Olive Oil Cake”.

Over at Not Rachel Ray‘s, our resident Rachel has whipped up quite an assortment of recipes for her Healthy New Year including:
Dessert: Yogurt Tart in a Whole Wheat Crust

Donna at Cookistry bakes her way to health with mini-flatbreads served with hummus and warm olive salad and says,” Just a few bites, but packed with flavor. Even better, you can make this in advance, and assemble just before your guests arrive. Or, let the guests assemble their own.”

As an accomplished baker, Donna put a new twist on the second week’s grande grains by baking them into her Grande Grain Miller’s Blend Muffins. Check out Week 3′s Rice-i-Noa– a healthier alternative to a familiar box.

The “Miss” of Miss in the Kitchen used Bob’s Red Mill Hard White Whole Wheat Flour to make blinis topped with homemade ricotta, fresh rosemary, pine nuts and a good drizzle of California Olive Ranch Arbequina Extra Virgin Olive Oil, it sounds fancy doesn’t it?  Well, it’s super easy and will be the appetizer that is totally impressive to your guests!
For week two, using the Grande Grains and Millers Blend Olive Oil, Miss made a healthful and tasty Sesame-Stir Fry Vegetable Grande Grains Pilaf that she says is, “perfect along side a grilled chicken breast, fish or even steak.” Quinoa takes center stage in Miss’s Week 3  Smoked Salmon Quinoa Patties and lemon tartar sauce.

Looks like Nelly (our newlywed) over at Cooking With Books, has some scrummy treats in store for us this month:

Appetizer: Lemon Thyme Cookies with Roasted Pepper Spread
Side: Cape Cod Cranberry Grande Grain Salad
Main Dish: Quinoa and Sausage Casserole
Dessert: Olive Oil and Marzipan Spiced Brownies
Our resident Celebrity Chef, Jay DuCote of Bite n’ Booze (He was on MasterChef, did you catch him?) put together Elk Sausage and Black Bean Soup.  Jay made a roux for the soup with BRM whole wheat flour and COR Arbosana olive oil.
For week three Jay has whipped up Toasted Pecan and Parmesan Quinoa plus a Giveaway!
If you know Theresa over at Food Hunter’s Guide to Cuisine you know she hunts down and serves up with the best of ‘em. For this challenge, Theresa baked up fresh whole wheat bread from scratch for her Caprese Bruschetta.
“I made whole wheat bread with the flour and an amazing pesto with the oil.  I also, drizzled the oil on the bread before constructing.  This was one of the best wheat breads I’ve ever made and the oil was also very flavorful.”
Theresa’s second week entry over at Food Hunter is a Mediterranean Whole Grain Salad and for the third week a fresh Quinoa Primavera to set your heart aflutter.

Any meal with family or friends deserves an appetizer that really kicks things off. This Olive Oil Flatbread from Matt at Thyme in Our Kitchen is easy to make and can be adapted to fit any health goal. The flatbread is made with Bob’s Red Mill Whole Wheat Flour and the fruity Arbequina olive oil from California Olive Ranch. Toppings on this heart healthy version include caramelized shallots, roasted egg plant and fresh spinach. It’s drizzled with a cilantro chutney and of course a bit more olive oil. Week 2 saw Matt whipping up Curried Whole Grain Pilaf with Bacon, Mushroom and Cabbage and in Week 3 he wowed with Quinoa Cakes with Walnut and Blue Cheese Vinaigrette.

Susan at 30AEats  brings us a Sundried Tomato, Kalamata Olive and Basil Pesto Focaccia. Since Susan’s whole family works in healthcare (so they know health!)  she solicited input from her husband and daughter to come up with this recipe, “My daughter is a huge fan of pesto, and we all adore kalamata olives, we came up with our Sun-dried Tomato, Kalamata Olive and Basil Pesto Focaccia. . . I paired it with a beautiful salad of local greens from my Seaside Farmer’s Market. I  also used the Arbequina drizzled on top as a dressing.”

For Week 2 Susan made Whole Grain Quinoa Tabouleh With Peppers  and for Week 3 Grande’ Grains Jambalaya.

Tara over at Foodie just took on a new promotion at work that’s keeping her busy — but not too busy to take part this challenge! Watch as she wows you with Prime Rib and Shrimp Whole Wheat Fried Ravioli. Look for Tara’s second week entry of Grande Whole Grains with Spinach and Serrano Ham and the Roasted Red Pepper Quinoa with Ribeye and Roasted Brussels Sprouts she just cooked up for week 3 .

Week 1 Cheesy Asian-Inspired Sesame Rolls right here on The GrooVy Foody.
Week 4

A Tasty and Healthy New Year Challenge Giveaway

Each week, the VP bloggers will challenge you to find (and use) the secret code word of the week, posted in the contest tab labeled “Virtual Potluck” on the California Olive Ranch Facebook page.

Each blogger will pick a single winner per week to receive a pack of the featured products from Bob’s Red Mill and California Olive Ranch.

That’s right- four weeks, 12 winners each week! That’s like 48 chances to win! The more blogs you visit the more chances you have to win~ so what are you waiting for?! Let’s get cooking (and eating!) A Tasty and Healthy New Year!

For more information on how you can win– visit the sites listed above!