Cold Summer Treats and You Control the Sugar!

When my children were small, they used to love those plastic tubes of frozen juice treats. These days, they all more health-conscious so wouldn’t touch them anymore although they recall them fondly. Not only was the frozen treat fun to save on a hot afternoon, the fact that there was no stick made it easy to tackle and kept their hands cooled down, too. If only there was a way to make these the way we want them without the sugar, chemicals, and food coloring. You’ve guess it! If you check on Amazon.com, you can now find the plastic tubes being sold and most brands usually include a small funnel to get your fruit creation into the tube for freezing.

Imagine the scope for coming up with tasty but better for you treats. My daughter is talking about blending together fresh strawberries and some yogurt for her creation. Also, for a grown up barbecue, you could make up a favorite mixed drink and pass of some interesting flavors where the ice will last as long as the frozen treat. On a diet? Frozen iced tea or coffee? A lot of room for imagination here.

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Calories Are Always Loath to Leave!

It’s Lent so I can provide this information without too many repercussions from people who did NOT want to know this. Hey, aren’t we all supposed to be cutting back on the ‘fun’ food for Lent?

How many times have we heard someone say, “I’ll have that slice of pizza for lunch and then walk back to the office to burn off the extra calories. Uh, going to take more than a saunter back to sitting in a chair for the rest of the work day.

One slice of pizza is generally around 300 calories give or take a few depending on how many toppings you order. So, how hard can it be to burn off a good portion of that meal? You will be glad to know you have options here. You can do somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,400 sit-ups. A quick run around the block when you get home will do it . . . if the distance around your block is three miles. Prefer to do some in-home exercises? Get off easy with 285 push-ups.

How about a nice big iced cinnamon roll with coffee for a quick start to your day. ONE of those delicious, short-term energy providers checks in at over 890 calories. Will you have time to do 4,300 sit-ups before work? At what point would one need to notify the paramedics if you attempt to do this? Your morning run, should you chose that avenue, would have to be eight miles plus. No mercy if you chose push-ups as you would have to log in over 870 of those.

Don’t even consider drinking a quick breakfast with a stop by the local coffee shop as one of those milky, whipped cream topped treats can add up to and probably go 500 calories so you can guess by now where the numbers stand for running, sit-ups, or push-up.

Cheer up, however, as I’m pretty sure raw vegetables (without dip!) would be considered freebies. And, I’m going to assume that whining will burn some of the calories off, too.

Mystery Meals?

Working on dinner this evening and decided to have a cheese pizza to go with the Mexican Vegetable Soup. I’m of German descent and my husband is of French/Canadian background. Guess there is no telling what we will combine at the dinner table!

Anyway, mystery to solve for today? What are the origins of this pizza crust?

Saturday Dinners . . .

My husband’s work schedule is not easy to follow or prepare for as it just depends on when he gets off work and how much traffic there is on the way home. That’s why I like the Saturdays he doesn’t work. Dinner can be planned and a special menu can be prepared.

In spite of the rainy season, the Spring vegetables are appearing in the stores so my hardworking husband get steamed asparagus along with sauteed cabbage with red onions and bacon as sides to a bone-in pork chop – a favorite of his. We have cut way back on carbs so enjoy the variety of vegetables appearing on the scene these days.

And, speaking of food and seasonings, I’m sold on the spice/herb store I found a few months ago. Having a choice of new and different spices for cooking makes kitchen time more interesting. The Spice Shop (https://www.thespicehouse.com/) also has a colorful catalog for a small mailing fee that not only describes the herbs and spices available, but often includes cooking ideas and a bit of history.

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Three Days to Prepare – One Hour to Eat!

Cooking dinner for Thanksgiving is a gift of love from the cook to the family and guests at the dinner table. . . and I wouldn’t change the process one, little bit.
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Preparing for a Thanksgiving meal isn’t hard but it takes time, planning, and about three days to pull it all together. Today, was day one. And, yes, I’m a great one for making lists for anything I have to do in life. Thanksgiving requires a few more than one list. I need a grocery list, a dinner plan, and a cooking schedule. The background list to all this is what cleaning up around the house and yard need particular attention. Yesterday, was shopping day and, as usual, Tuesday is the beginning of the cooking and shopping to pick up what escaped the list yesterday.

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Today was the simpler day. First thing this morning I put a bit pot of water, vegetables and turkey necks to simmer all day. This is my basis for making the gravy and for moistening the dressing. Baking started as one can’t make dressing without bread and we are gluten-free so I make the bread myself to keep everyone healthy. Cranberry/Apple sauce is now chilling in the refrigerator. No canned jelly stuff around here. It has too much sugar and I like to be able to taste the fruit.

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Salads always make an appearance at the Thanksgiving table so the beet salad is marinating in a dish in the refrigerator awaiting some last-minute seasoning on Thursday. The apples for the Apple Crisp have been peeled, sliced, and are soaking in sugar, lemon, lime, and cinnamon.

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Tomorrow, things heat up a bit as I have three pies to make besides baking the Apple Crisp.

Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free Feast!

P1000805P1000807When we changed our diets and gave up several categories of staple foods, the consensus was that we were going to starve. The pictures above feature the makings for a typical meal at our house. Chicken with mushroom sauce is a favorite. We serve it over spaghetti squash. My husband has to fight for a leftover for his lunch at work. So, how do I obtain a cream sauce without using milk? See the measuring cup of cashews in the upper left-hand corner. There is the secret. I use a cup of cashews with a cup of chicken broth and heat it up in the microwave for a minute to heat up the broth and help the cashews soak it up and soften a bit. It goes into the blender with seasonings of choice, a half tablespoon of Arrowroot starch (you can use cornstarch, too), blend it smooth and put in a pot. Bring to a simmer, stirring often. If it is too thick, add more broth, too thin a bit more of your chosen thickener dissolved in a tablespoon of water.

Meanwhile, brown your boneless chicken really well. Cool a bit and slice into bite-sized pieces and set aside. Do NOT wash your browning pan because now you are going to brown your onions (add a bit more olive oil if necessary) and the sliced, fresh mushrooms. Return the chicken to the pan along with your sauce and bring to a simmer, turn down the heat, and let the flavors meld. Test for seasoning adding more salt and pepper, if needed. I like to put a sprinkle of cayenne into the sauce but not for heat but to perk up the taste.

The greenery in the second picture is Kale which has become a favorite around here. For a meal with a sauced protein, you need a contrast and this is an easy one. Wash your Kale and strip off big pieces of the woody center. Put the Kale pieces in a large bowl and add two smashed and diced cloves of garlic along with salt, pepper, and a tablespoon of sesame seeds. Toss with half olive oil and half sesame oil. You want the Kale to glisten not drown in the oil. Lay out the Kale on a foil lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes depending on your stove. The leaves will begin to brown a bit and be crisp.

Spaghetti Squashes only challenge is in cutting the thing in half! I find that buying two or three small ones is easier as they are more tender than the large ones. In any cash, cut a thin slice off each end to form a flat surface to cut them down the middle, lengthwise, Scrap out the seeds and put them cut side down in a baking dish. Pour in enough water to come just a half inch up the side of the squash. Put in the microwave and it takes approximately 15-20 minutes to get tender. Remove from oven and with a wad of paper towel to keep your hand from getting burned, use a fork to scrap out the spaghetti-like strands.

Dinner is served and I guarantee no one will starve.