3 Healthy Substitutes for Thanksgiving Dinner

Photo credit: Public Domain

Thanksgiving is a day when we eat a lot of food. Sure, spending time with the family is wonderful, and catching up with old friends is great. But then again, there’s nothing quite like Thanksgiving dinner topped off with pumpkin pie.

Food Network (foodnetwork.com) is one of many sites that offer numerous healthy recipes to introduce to your Thanksgiving table. If there’s one food that everyone’s Thanksgiving has in common, it’s potatoes. Sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes, candied yams and roast potatoes. These are the easier substitutions you can make.

Candied yams are integral to any Thanksgiving dinner, but it’s packed with sugar and it’s not great for the diet. Consider opting for glazed sweet potatoes instead.

Say Goodbye to Candied Yams

Rather than layering your sweet potatoes with marshmallows, choose honey, cinnamon, and walnuts. For every 5 sweet potatoes, use 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, ¼ cup of honey, 2/3 cup of apricot nectar, and a tablespoon of cornstarch.

Boil your sweet potatoes and slice when tender, cook the rest of the ingredients over a high heat and bring them to a boil.

Once the mixture thickens, pour it over the yams and then top with a ½ cup of chopped nuts. Bake for half an hour at 350 degrees.

Mashed Potatoes Are a Thing of the Past

Mashed potatoes are a must, but instead try mashed butternut casserole.

You’ll need 8 cups of butternut squash cut into cubes, 1.5 cups of diced sweet onion, an 1/8 of a teaspoon of cayenne pepper, a teaspoon of chopped garlic, a tablespoon of light butter, a ¼ teaspoon of black pepper, ¾ of a teaspoon of salt, 3 wedges of laughing cow cheese and 3 slices of turkey bacon.

Cook the bacon till it’s crispy, then crumble it and set aside for later use. Add the onion, butter, cayenne pepper and a ¼ teaspoon of salt to a pan and stir for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat and stir until caramelized. Remove from heat.

Bring a pot of water to the boil and add the squash and cook until tender. Drain it and mash it in a large bowl, add the garlic, salt, cheese and pepper and mix it well Spread the mixture into an 8×8 baking pan and top with the caramelized onions and the crumbled bacon. Bake it for around 15 minutes.

Boxed Stuffing Isn’t a Necessity

Instead, consider making a vegetarian cornbread stuffing.

You’ll need 2 diced leeks, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, finely chopped celery stalks (8), cored and diced apples (3), a cup of chopped pecans, a tablespoon of poultry seasoning, one large beaten egg, 4 cups of gluten-free cornbread (crumbled), a quart cup of port/sherry, plus pepper and salt to taste.

Start by heating the olive oil over medium heat and add leeks to sauté till slightly golden. Add the apple and celery one at a time and cook for three minutes after each new ingredient is introduced.

Add the pecans and seasonings and sauté for another two minutes to allow the flavors to infuse. Add 2 tablespoons of port/sherry and cook for a minute. Set the mixture aside and allow it to cool for 10 minutes.

Put the cornbread in a large bowl and mix in the remaining port/sherry, egg, and veggies in the bowl and mix. Transfer it to a baking dish and cover, place it in a preheated oven (350 F) and bake for 45 minutes, remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes for browning.

Thanksgiving can be healthy and delicious without much more effort!

 

 

5 Very Simple Thanksgiving Dessert Recipes to Reduce Stress and Workload

Photo credit: Jon Parise from San Francisco, US [CC BY-SA 2.0]

It’s that time again! Almost another year has passed and the holiday season is just around the corner. This is by far one of the most naturally stressful times for us all. There is so much going on around us, all the time, it seems like at this time of year, every year, people go just a little bit crazy.

Well, I want you to know that you are not alone, help is at hand. I’m going to share with you a few very simple recipes that will help you to better organize your Thanksgiving desserts.

Use these recipes this Thanksgiving and you will find that you have plenty of time to organize everything else. You may even find that you have a little extra time on your hands where you can sit back, take a load off, and relax.

After all, the holidays are supposed to be about fun and relaxation, so let us do everything we can to ease the stress this Thanksgiving.

Tip 1 – Yummy Baked Apples

Ingredients:

  • 6 Sweet, firm apples, peeled, cored and cut into 8 wedges
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons of butter, melted
  • ¾ cup of white sugar
  • 1/3 cup of rum or ½ cup maple syrup
  • 2 pints of vanilla ice-cream

Directions

Step 1 – Mix the apple wedges with the lemon juice, butter, and sugar (leaving two tablespoons of sugar for later). Place them in a single layer on a baking sheet.

Step 2 – Bake the apples at 356 degrees Fahrenheit, until soft. Sprinkle remaining sugar over and continue baking until the sugar melts.

Step 3 – Gently heat the rum or maple syrup in a saucepan.

Step 4 – Serve the apples with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream and pour the heated sauce on top. Yum!

Tip 2 – Chocolicious Bread Pudding

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of whole milk
  • 4 medium sized eggs
  • ½ cup of sugar
  • 8 tablespoons of butter or margarine
  • 12 ounces of milk-chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 loaf of white-bread, trimmed to remove the crusts
  • 1 pint of thickened cream, whipped until you can safely hold the bowl over your head upside down (the kids will love to test this one!)

Directions

Step 1 – Whisk the milk, eggs and sugar in a saucepan, then add the butter and chocolate chips over a low heat. Keep stirring until the butter and chocolate have both melted. Add vanilla and remove from heat.

Step 2 – Lightly coat a 13×9 inch baking tray with a thin layer of oil. Arrange the bread slices in 3 layers. Pour the heated sauce mixture over the top.

Step 3 – Cover with plastic wrap and place a second baking tray on top to weight it down. Leave to sit for 1 hour. Heat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 4 – Remove top baking tray and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Serve warm with whipped cream.

Tip 3 – Pumpkin Rice Pudding (made two days in advance)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups short grain rice
  • 6 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • ½ a vanilla bean split down the middle
  • 1 teaspoon of grated orange zest
  • ¼ cup of orange juice, (fresh is best)
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup of canned pumpkin
  • ¼ cup of dark brown sugar

Directions

Step 1 – Combine the rice, milk, sugar, vanilla bean, orange zest, orange juice, and salt in a large saucepan. Heat over a medium heat until thoroughly mixed, stirring often. Once mixed, reduce to a low heat and continue to cook until the rice is soft and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat.

Step 2 – Remove the vanilla bean from the mix. Add in the pumpkin. Allow to cool.

Step 3 – Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. When re-warming to serve, add 1 and ½ cups of milk and stir in a saucepan over low-medium heat. Serve warm, with a sprinkle of dark sugar.

Tip 4 – Super Quick Chocolate Pudding

Ingredients:

  • 8 Triangles of Swiss milk-chocolate nougat bar
  • 1 ½ cups of thawed cool-whip whipped topping

Directions

Step 1 – Microwave chocolate in a microwaveable bowl on high for 1 minute. Allow to cool for 1 minute.

Step 2 – Add whipped topping, stirring with a whisk to allow to air.

Step 3 – Refrigerate for at least 10 minutes. Serve, enjoy. Yum!

Tip 5 – Lemon Pudding (made one day in advance)

Ingredients:

  • 4 lemons
  • 2 ¼ cups of white sugar
  • 3 ½ cups of thickened cream
  • A pinch of salt

Directions

Step 1 – Peel the zest from the lemons and cut into thin 1 inch strips. Place them in a saucepan with enough water to cover them, bring to a boil, and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain and return zest to saucepan.

Step 2 – Add to saucepan 1 and ¼ cups of the sugar and 1 and ¼ cups of water and bring to a boil. Simmer over medium heat until syrup has reduced by 1/3. After this, remove the zest pieces with a fork or slotted spoon and add them into a bowl of the remaining sugar.

Step 3 – Add 3 cups of the cream to the lemon syrup in the saucepan and simmer until reduced by 1/3.

Step 4 – Half and juice the lemons and add the juice and salt to the saucepan and allow to cool slightly. Once slightly cooled, pour the mixture into pudding glasses or small bowls and chill in the refrigerator overnight until set. Serve with a dollop of the remaining cream and garnish with the zest pieces.

Final Thoughts

Five very simple recipes that will help you to better manage dessert this Thanksgiving. Remember, the holidays are a time for fun, family, and relaxation, so take a load off, and make it simple. Let the kids and the rest of the family get involved too.

You never know, they may enjoy helping so much that there’s nothing left for you to do! Well, we can at least dream can’t we?

So go have some fun, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Top 5 Cancer-Fighting Superfoods

 

Photo credit: Renee Rendler-Kaplan CC-BY-1.0

Being diagnosed with any cancer can be a frightening experience, and just hearing the “C” word can be terrifying enough. According to the National Cancer Institute, an estimated one-third of cancer deaths can be linked to a poor diet and inactivity. Genetic and environmental factors also play a role. However, the good news is that you can fight disease and live longer by making healthier food choices, including a variety of superfoods, and getting more exercise.

Spirulina

Spirulina is a blue-green algae superfood abundant in vitamins, minerals, protein, carotenoids, and antioxidants that can help protect cells from damage. It contains nutrients, including beta-carotene, B-complex vitamins, manganese, zinc, vitamin E, selenium, iron, copper and gamma linolenic acid (an essential fatty acid).  In A Natural Physician’s Healing Therapies, Mark Stengler ND, writes “spirulina stimulates natural killer cells and similar anti-immune components of the immune system that can help fight cancer cells. Laboratory studies also show that spirulina polysaccharides can work to repair genetic material that has been damaged from toxins or from radiation.”

Chlorella
 

Chlorella is another nutrient-dense superfood that offers a powerful punch against cancer. In Prescription for Dietary Wellness, Phyllis A. Balch explains, “Chlorella…contains the highest chlorophyll level per ounce of any plant, as well as protein (nearly 58 percent), carbohydrates, all of the B vitamins, vitamins C and E, amino acids (including all nine essential ones), enzymes and rare trace minerals.” In Treating Cancer with Herbs, Michael Tierra, writes “due to its dense and nutrient-rich nature, chlorella offers your body a two-fold attack against cancer. You can access these benefits by taking only one or two teaspoons of chlorella once or twice daily.”

Mushrooms

Several types of mushrooms, such as Maitake, Shiitake and Reishi, help to strengthen the immune system and may assist the body in its fight against cancer. Compounds in the mushrooms called polysaccharides can help build immunity. Lectin, which is a protein, may also fight cancer cells by preventing them from multiplying.

Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage, may provide protection against certain cancers, including colon, bladder and breast cancers. Cruciferous vegetables contain cancer-fighting phytochemicals called isothiocyanates, which stimulate our bodies to break down potential carcinogens. Sulforaphane, found in broccoli and in broccoli sprouts, is a well-known isothiocyanate, which stimulates the body to produce enzymes that detoxify carcinogens. Also, according to researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, many cruciferous vegetables contain indole-3-carbinol, a compound that affects sex-hormone metabolism involved with the progression of prostate, breast and ovarian cancers. Men between 40 and 64 who ate three or more half-cup servings of cruciferous vegetables a week were 41 percent less likely to develop prostate cancer.

Berries

Fresh, organic berries such as strawberries, blueberries and raspberries are abundant in nutrients and antioxidants, which may slow or prevent the development of cancer. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, all berries are abundant in a phytochemical called ellagic acid, which has shown the ability to prevent cancers of the breast, skin, lung, bladder and esophagus. Ellagic acid also acts as an antioxidant, helping the body to neutralize specific carcinogens and slow the reproduction of cancer cells.

 

Delicious Fat Burning Foods are Nutritious and Low in Calories

Photo credit: McKay Savage CC-BY-2.0

If you have ever experienced hunger pangs and cravings during that painful, but necessary, diet that you have been struggling to follow, these tasty fat burning foods will fill your stomach and satiate your cravings without piling on the pounds. Here are some of the most popular and effective superfoods that burn fat without boring your taste buds!

Spices that Burn Fat

For those who enjoy spices in their food, the fact that spicy food actively contributes towards actual fat loss will come as no surprise, given how they promote quick digestion and also increase the body’s need for hydration. Consuming cayenne pepper has been an integral aspect of many popular liquid-only diets and is added to salads and other foods by those who want to kick start their body’s metabolism.

The Importance of Whole Grains

Whole grain food will help by making you feel full, and for those who would prefer less spicy options for their diets, there are a wide range of whole grains to choose from, including brown or unrefined rice, and steel cut oats. These fat burning foods are versatile in terms of the many ways in which they can be added to meals, and are effective fat burners because the body takes more time to digest them as compared with bleached, refined, nutritionally-deficient white food. Consider looking at whole grain and whole wheat versions of your favorite snacks and breads in order to create healthier meals for yourself.

Fat Burning Favorites

Among the many favorite fat burning foods which are recommended by health experts, the inclusion of green tea and lean, i.e. fat-free meats is a must. Green tea helps melt fat if one consumes 4 cups a day, while 2-3 servings of lean meat without fatty dressing and sides will provide nutrition while burning fat thanks to its thermogenic effect on the body.

There are a number of delicious and healthy fat burning foods available in the market, and it would be a wise choice to incorporate them all as part of your daily meal plan. One of the easiest ways in which to assess the health benefits and fat burning potential of a particular food item is to see how natural they are; if you are buying chemically-processed, pre-packaged, artificially enhanced items, you might want to consider buying fresh and organic fat burning food items instead.

 

Flax Seed Uses and Health Benefits

Photo credit: Dvortygirl CC-BY-SA-3.0

Flax seed has been a widely grown crop for thousands of years, and it is believed that it was one of the first plants that humans domesticated and farmed. The flax plant is one of the most versatile in the world, capable of being made into fabrics (especially linen), paints, fishing nets, dyes, soap, medicine, and all sorts of other things. The seeds produce an oil known as linseed oil or flaxseed oil.

Linseed oil is one of the most commonly used vegetable oils. In addition to being used in food, it has also been used as a finish and polish for wood and painted surfaces, in putty and caulk, and perhaps most notably in linoleum, which many people wrongly believe is made from man-made materials. Linoleum is actually wood or cork dust on canvas, overlaid with solidified linseed oil, making an all-natural floor covering that is especially suitable for people with allergies. Wood is also treated with linseed oil when making bats for some sports, including cricket.

The popularity of linseed oil for food preparation has been steadily growing again, because people have been paying more attention to the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. Flax seed contains an abundance of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is a plant-derived omega-3 essential fatty acid. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, ALA may help reduce systemic inflammation that often leads to various chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and high blood pressure. Flax seed also contains fiber-rich lignans, which have antioxidant and phytoestrogenic properties in the body. Lignans possess anti-cancer properties as well.

References:

University of Maryland Medical Center

http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/alphalinolenic-acid

 

 

 

Mother’s Day Sweets

800px-Chocolate_Cake_Flourless_(1) Living a  healthy lifestyle and eating healthy food doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the occasional sweet indulgence. It’s Mother’s Day! That box of chocolates is calling your name! Can you eat sweets and still manage your diet? Yes you can. As long as you eat sweets in moderation and occasionally, you can enjoy rich chocolates, cakes and cookies.

Dark chocolate is not only a decadent treat, it’s a healthy one too. Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants called flavonoids. Flavonoids can help improve your heart health and decrease your blood pressure. Walnuts increases the heart health power of this sweet by adding beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. Yes, you can have 2 or 3 of those delicious dark chocolate covered walnut treats.

Love milkshakes and ice cream? You know milkshakes are loaded with calories and fat. You can enjoy all the delicious flavor of a milkshake but with far fewer calories by substituting regular milk with 1 percent milk. Add some plain low-fat yogurt and your favorite fresh fruit, such as blueberries or strawberries, for a fruity flavor explosion. You will also benefit from the antioxidants found in fresh fruits and get a good dose of your daily vitamin and fiber requirements.

If you are going out to dinner to celebrate Mother’s Day, many restaurants offer low-fat treats. If you must have that slice of chocolate cake, forego the ice cream and whipped topping. Take small bites and savor each one. You don’t have to finish that dessert either. Share it with that special someone who is treating you to dinner.

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

Fight Fat With Food!

Photo: qoo monster

When you are trying to lose weight and build muscle, it’s important to get plenty of exercise and to eat foods that support your weight loss goals while providing good nutrition. You can’t build muscle without the raw materials provided by the foods you eat. Cutting calories and exercise will help you lose weight, but don’t sacrifice nutrition to drop those extra pounds. There are many foods that are high in nutrition but low in calories and fat. Eat several small meals throughout the day, including healthy snacks, to keep your metabolism revved up throughout the day.

Greek yogurt is a delicious food that has twice as much muscle-building protein as other types of yogurt. Protein is also slower to digest than other nutrients so you feel fuller, longer. Feeling full is a great way to help you avoid sugary snacks and high calorie munchies between meals. Add an extra nutritional punch to your Greek yogurt by stirring in some fresh fruits, such as blueberries, raspberries or slices of strawberry. Berries are high in fiber which can also help you feel full. Plus you will get a good dose of antioxidants. Snack on apple and pear slices between meals for a quick boost of energy from natural sugars, proteins and fiber. Grapefruit isn’t a magical fat-burning food, but you will feel fuller longer because it is loaded with water-soluble fiber and nutrients.

Whole grains, including quinoa, wheat and oats, should be part of every person’s diet even if you are not trying to lose weight. Whole grains contain protein, fiber and are loaded with vitamins and trace minerals that your cells need to function normally. Replace your processed flour pasta with whole grain pastas to cut calories while still enjoying the foods you love. Beans and brown rice are excellent sources of fiber and muscle building protein. You can also spice up your fat fighting diet by eating hot peppers! Hot peppers contain a natural compound called capsaicin that curbs your appetite and boosts your metabolism. You can also get the protein and nutrients you need from eggs. One egg has 7 grams of protein but only about 75 calories. If you have high cholesterol, check with your doctor about the number of eggs you should eat each week.