Tag: food

5 Powerful Foods for Superhero Health

 

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Some excellent reasons for including many fresh fruits, vegetables and juices in our diets is for their vitamins, minerals, anti-inflammatory, and potential cancer-preventing properties.

Many foods, commonly known as superfoods, have been found by researchers to help prevent cancer, and have even been shown to stop the progression of cancer cells in studies.

Below are some powerful health-boosting edibles you should definitely include in your diet:

  1. Broccoli—

Broccoli and cauliflower, both members of the cruciferous vegetable family, contain powerful health agents. Not only do these vegetables lower your risk of getting certain cancers, researchers are discovering they can even fight off existing cancers by preventing them from growing.

Scientists have found that a chemical found in broccoli, cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables called isothiocyanate can stop cancer growth by killing cancer cells.

Broccoli is also full of antioxidants, vitamin K and vitamin C, making it a wonderful addition to any detoxification program or cleanse.

  1. Kale—

Kale is in the same plant family as broccoli, and contains the same cancer cell-killing phytonutrients, plus it packs a punch loaded full of antioxidants (carotenoids and flavonoids) and anti-inflammatory nutrients that help your immune system fight off disease and illness.

Studies have shown that a diet including kale can not only help prevent cancer, but may also help with its treatment. Kale is extremely alkaline, and if you are fighting disease, one of the best things you can do is to lower your body’s acid levels and increase the alkalinity, giving it more power to fight off the bad guys.

Kale also contains enzymes involved with detoxification, and can help cleanse toxins quickly, allowing us to perform at maximum capacity.

  1. Purple Sweet Potatoes—

A new type of sweet potato has been grown specifically for its cancer fighting benefits. With purple pigment inside rather than the usual sunny hue, this strange new vegetable contains the chemical anthocyanin, which has been shown to reduce inflammation, boost the immune system, prevent cancer and even slow the progress of existing cancer cells.

The purple sweet potato is loaded with the same antioxidants found in similarly-colored grapes and berries, but don’t count out those good old-fashioned orange-toned sweet potatoes, because they have plenty of vitamin A and antioxidants to offer as well.

  1. Flaxseed Meal—

Flaxseeds are loaded with much-needed Omega-3s (which are helpful for reducing inflammation and preventing skin cancer), vitamin E and dietary fiber, which is great for colon health (and the prevention of colon cancer).

It’s important to grind whole flaxseeds up or buy them in the already-ground meal form to reap the full benefits, as they can be hard to digest.

In scientific studies, daily ingestion of flaxseed meal has been shown to reduce cancer cell growth in patients, making flaxseeds an important addition to your daily smoothie, juice or breakfast cereal.

  1. Spinach—

Well known for its high iron content, spinach is one of the best superfoods you can feed your body, as it also contains vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin K, folate and magnesium.

This nutritional powerhouse vegetable has been shown to lower the risk of macular degeneration, making it an excellent daily juice or smoothie choice for those genetically prone to eye disease.

Researchers at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences discovered that eating carrots and spinach more than twice weekly reduced breast cancer risk by 44%, so mixing in some carrot juice with your daily spinach juice would be a great idea. (Source: Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention, November 1997)

Other studies have proven spinach to lower the risk of ovarian, stomach, skin, prostate and bladder cancer, so do your body a favor and eat your daily spinach.

 

Fruits and vegetables have long been considered powerful weapons in the fight against cancer, and research only continues to show this over and over again. Nearly every study conducted proves the anti-inflammatory and cancer-fighting protection these plant-based superfoods can provide, so be sure to include them in your diet today.

5 Green Vegetables That Will Make You Glow

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Eating green vegetables and other nutrient-dense green foods such as spirulina, wheat grass, blue green algae, sea vegetables and seaweed (a.k.a. “superfoods”) can give us large amounts of the vitamins and minerals we need to stay healthy and strong.

Chlorophyll, which we learned in grade school science class is what gives plants their green color, also happens to be quite similar in molecular structure to human blood. Isn’t that amazing? The same pigment oxygenating the plants in your yard can also help oxygenate your blood. But first, you have to get that green goodness into your body.

That’s where fresh, green juices come in. Starting your day with a juice or smoothie full of green vegetables is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself. If you get into the habit of drinking fresh juices every day, you’ll likely notice your energy levels increasing, your digestion improving, and your eyes and skin looking bright and clear.

As they detoxify their bodies by eating raw whole foods, and drinking pure, fresh juices, many people begin to notice their entire systems have begun to work more efficiently, and they will naturally lose weight.

By ingesting green juices, you’ll also be giving yourself the gift of antioxidants, as well as decreased chances of health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Certain green vegetables have even been shown to help prevent the occurrence of certain cancers.

Here are 5 of the best green vegetables to give you maximum nutrition for a minimum investment:

 

1. Spinach is a wonderful green vegetable to include in your daily juicing and smoothie regimen. It’s high in the aforementioned cancer-preventing antioxidants, and has also been shown in studies to reduce macular degeneration, heart disease and stroke. One of the best things about spinach as a fresh juice or smoothie additive is that it has a surprisingly mild flavor.

When mixed with carrots, apples, and ginger, even the pickiest children have been known to give spinach the thumbs-up. If you find the right blend, it can be a great way to quickly get some healthy greens into your kids.

 

2. Kale is another amazing green vegetable that has been rapidly growing in popularity, with delicious new kale products (such as kale chips) currently hitting the markets. In addition to giving our bodies loads of vitamin C and vitamin A, kale is widely appreciated for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities.

It seems to be no mistake that the word kale starts with a ‘k’ as it is absolutely loaded with vitamin K, to the tune of over 600 percent of our recommended daily allowance. Also abundantly found in spinach, broccoli, parsley, Brussels sprouts and cabbage, vitamin K is very important in the formation and protection of bones, as well as blood clotting and cancer prevention.

Kale is also high in calcium, providing the lactose intolerant among us with an easy way to get the nutrients necessary for proper bone health.

 

3. Parsley has long been known in the world of nutrition as a major player in the treatment of anemia, thanks to its high iron content. In addition to vitamin K, parsley is loaded with the well-known immune system boosters, beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin B12. Parsley contains vitamin A, which is important for eye health.

Folic acid is also abundant in parsley, which lowers cancer risk, and is especially crucial for pregnant women, as it can prevent birth defects in unborn babies.

 

4. Cucumber can play an important role in your detoxification, which is one of the goals of any juice fast, smoothie or healthy eating program.

Cucumber acts as a natural diuretic in the body by eliminating excess water, and as long as you make sure to re-hydrate to replace what you’re losing, this process can cause your body to remove toxins at a faster rate. This diuretic quality is also why cucumber is used to clean the kidneys, with many using it daily to remove kidney stones.

An excellent source of silica, cucumber can help those with achy joints, as well as assist in preventing many types of cancer.

 

5. Celery will give you the same diuretic effects as cucumber, with the added benefit of a natural laxative effect that will help speed up the body’s removal of toxins.

Celery has been shown to reduce cholesterol and prevent stomach cancers, and helps reduce acid levels in the body. Creating an alkaline environment is highly desirable, as it will allow your body more energy to dedicate to fighting the bad guys.

 

Do you want to feel stronger, live longer, have more energy, and feel better about the way you look? Are you ready to glow with good health and vitality? Let green vegetables come to your rescue.

With their mega-doses of antioxidants and high levels of vitamins and minerals, green vegetables can be the superfood hero your body has been seeking. To healthy living, fresh juicing, and beyond!

 

Five Ways to Take Carrot Cake to the Next Level

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Nothing beats the old-fashioned goodness of a perfectly moist carrot cake with a rich cream cheese frosting. The depth of the flavors and spices is an amazing taste to behold, making this classic dessert a favorite of many. We can feel good about the fact that we’re also eating our vegetables when we have a piece of carrot cake, but that doesn’t really matter does it? We eat it because it’s delicious. So, so very delicious.

Below are some tips to help you make the very best carrot cake you possibly can:

 

  1. Use Fresh Carrots—

Carrots are almost fruit-like in their sweetness, making them a popular choice for fresh juices, breads and oh yes… carrot cake. Be sure to buy the freshest carrots possible because the fresher they are, the more tender they will make your carrot cake. If you can afford organic carrots, even better, as organic fruits and vegetables are well-known for their great flavor, as well as health benefits.

 

  1. Soak Dried Fruit in Water—

If you are planning to use raisins in your carrot cake—or perhaps dried cranberries if you’re bringing the carrot cake to a festive holiday dinner—be sure to soak the raisins in warm water for a few minutes. This will cause them to re-hydrate, becoming plump and juicy, which will add moisture to your carrot cake.

 

  1. Blend Dry Ingredients Well—

You can use a spoon to blend the dry ingredients, but if you have one handy, nothing gets the lumps out of baking soda, flour and spices quite like a sifter. Because nothing ruins a bite of carrot cake like a salty lump of baking soda or a chunk of flour that didn’t get mixed in. Blend the ingredients well to give your carrot cake the smoothest texture possible.

 

  1. Use Oil Instead of Butter—

Most serious bakers are big fans of butter, and rightly so, as it adds a flavor to many baked goods that can’t be denied. But carrot cake is an exception to this rule, perhaps because the grated carrots already add such a large amount of moisture. Using a lighter type of oil like vegetable or canola will help keep your cake moist without making it too dense or heavy.

 

  1. Try Creative Additions—

Once you’ve mastered the perfect classic carrot cake, you might want to have fun experimenting a little with different spices, nuts and fruits your family or dinner guests might enjoy in a dessert. Use golden raisins instead of the traditional, or add pineapple and coconut to your carrot cake to give it a tropical flair.

Many cooks use walnuts instead of the more traditional pecans to mix it up (with the bonus of the walnut’s heart-healthy Omega-3s), or even add walnut oil to give the cake a nuttier flavor. If a spicier cake is desired, you can add nutmeg, ginger and cloves to the classic cinnamon to jazz things up.

Some other fun ideas if you’re feeling brave would be to add vanilla, almond extract, citrus zest, bananas, dates, chocolate chips, dried mango or papaya bits, dried cranberries, dried currants or even dried blueberries if you’re feeling daring.

 

Now that you’re craving carrot cake, here’s a very basic carrot cake recipe for you to make your own by using the 5 tips above:

Classic Carrot Cake

Ingredients:

  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1½ cups oil
  • 4 eggs

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Grease 9×13 pan.
  • Beat all ingredients together in a large bowl until well blended and pour mixture into pan.
  • Bake 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  • Cool before frosting.

Be sure to grease your pans well, as carrot cake has a tendency to stick, and don’t forget that you can add orange or lemon zest to your cream cheese frosting to give it a little extra zing!

No matter what your particular carrot cake style may be, this classic American favorite is sure to be a crowd-pleaser every time.

4 Easy Crock Pot Recipes Your Family Will Love

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Sometimes it feels like there aren’t enough hours in a day to do everything we need to do. Cooking with a crock pot or slow cooker is a fast way to throw together a hearty, healthy, delicious meal while saving precious time and energy.

Here are 4 quick and easy budget-friendly crock pot recipes that will make your life easier and keep your family happy.

Simple Beef Stroganoff

You will need:

  • 3 cans condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 package (1 oz.) dry onion soup mix
  • 2 pounds beef stew meat
  1. Combine soup, water, sour cream and onion soup mix in crock pot. Add beef and stir until well-coated. Cover and cook on high for 3 hours.

Note: Beef Stroganoff is traditionally served over noodles, but you can serve it over rice if you prefer. This dish goes great with a green salad.

 

Island Shrimp with Rice

You will need:

  • 1 package (12 ounces) frozen shrimp, thawed
  • ½ cup fat-free, reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sweet and sour sauce
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • ½ cup pineapple chunks, drained
  • ½ cup diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups cooked white rice
  1. Combine all ingredients in crock pot except for peas, pineapple and tomatoes. Cover and cook on low for 2 hours.
  2. Add peas, pineapple, tomatoes and rice. Cover and cook on low an additional 5-10 minutes, and serve.

 

Picnic-Style Baked Beans

You will need:

  • 1 pound dried beans of your choice
  • 1 pound of bacon
  • 5 hot dogs, sliced into circular pieces
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cups of ketchup
  • 1 cup of your favorite barbeque sauce
  • 2 cups dark brown sugar
  1. Soak and cook the beans according to package directions. Refrigerate until ready for use.
  2. Cook bacon in a skillet until crisp. Drain on a paper towel, cool and crumble. Save 3 tablespoons of bacon fat in skillet, and add hot dogs and onion. Cook over medium heat until onions are tender.
  3. Combine cooked beans, bacon, hot dogs, onions, ketchup, barbeque sauce and brown sugar in crock pot. Cover and cook on low for 2 hours.

Note: 1 pound canned, pre-cooked beans may be substituted for dried beans to save time, if desired. This kid-friendly dish can be served with soft bread or buns on the side, and works great as a side dish for any gathering.

 

Simple Southwestern Stew

You will need:

  • 2 pounds ground turkey (or beef)
  • 1 can tomatoes and chilies, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 2 cups instant white rice
  • 1 can ranch-style pinto beans
  • 1 bag (16 oz.) frozen yellow corn
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • ½ cup scallions, diced
  • 1-2 cups water, to preferred consistency
  1. Add ground turkey or ground beef, onion, diced tomatoes and chilies, broth, water, corn and spices to crock pot for 3-4 hours, until meat is cooked.
  2. Add instant rice and cook 40 minutes, then add beans for 10 minutes, and serve.

Note: This dish can be garnished with shredded cheese and diced green onions, and is great served with tortilla chips on the side.

 

Cooking with the crock pot will make your house smell wonderful all day long. There’s really not much better than coming home to the scent of a savory slow-cooked dinner, is there? No matter what your family is in the mood for tonight, there is something here for everyone, so give one of these easy recipes a try today.

4 Classic Comfort Casseroles to Soothe and Satisfy

 

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Casseroles are the ultimate comfort food, reminding us of family gatherings and childhood dinners. Here are a few simple-yet-comforting casseroles that you may want to try.

 

Cheddar-Chicken Pot Pie Casserole

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups uncooked rotini pasta
  • 1 can condensed cheddar cheese soup
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 cup chopped tomato
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 pound cooked chicken, cut into small pieces
  • 1 can French fried onions

 

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 9½ glass pie plate or casserole dish with nonstick spray.
  1. Cook and drain pasta as directed on package. In large bowl, mix milk and soup. Add tomato, cheeses and pasta. Stir in chicken pieces, and spoon mixture into casserole dish.
  1. Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle French fried onions on top. Bake 5 minutes longer, and serve.

 

Cheesy Tuna and Vegetable Casserole

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups uncooked egg noodles
  • 12 ounce bag frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1 can condensed cheddar cheese soup
  • 1 can (12 ounce) evaporated milk
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup chopped onion
  • 2 cans tuna (6 ounces each) in water, drained

 

  1. Cook noodles as directed on package, adding frozen vegetables for last minute of cooking to heat them up, and drain.
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. In an ungreased 2-quart casserole baking dish, mix milk, soup, cheese and onion. Stir in tuna, cooked noodles and mixed vegetables.
  1. Cover and bake 30 minutes. Remove from oven, uncover, bake uncovered 5 minutes longer, and serve.

 

Note: Can be served with crumbled potato chips or cracker crumbs on top, just sprinkle over top of casserole before last 5 minutes of baking.

 

Cornbread ‘N’ Beans Casserole

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (28 ounce) baked beans, undrained
  • 1 package (16 ounce) mini-hot dogs/cocktail weenies
  • ½ cup barbeque sauce
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup chopped onion
  • 1 box cornbread/corn muffin mix
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 egg

 

  1. Heat over to 375 degrees. In large saucepan, mix beans, hot dogs, ketchup, barbecue sauce and onion. Cook over medium-high heat until hot, then pour into ungreased 2-quart casserole baking dish.
  1. In medium bowl, stir in cornbread mix, milk and egg until combined, then spread batter evenly over barbecue bean mixture in casserole dish.
  1. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until top is golden brown, and serve.

 

Sweet Potato-Bacon Casserole

Ingredients:

  • 3 large cans (24 ounces each) sweet potatoes
  • 1 package (12 ounce) bacon
  • ¼ bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon butter or margarine, melted
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onions
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper

 

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  1. Cook bacon until crispy and chop into small pieces. In a small bowl, mix bread crumbs and one tablespoon butter or margarine and set aside.
  1. Spray 13×9-inch (3 quart) glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. In a large bowl, mix sweet potatoes with bacon, sour cream, ¼ cup butter or margarine, onions, salt and pepper, until well blended. Spread mixture in baking dish and sprinkle crumb mixture evenly over top.
  1. Bake uncovered 20-30 minutes or until thoroughly heated, with bead crumbs turning golden brown, and serve.

 

 

Quick and easy to prepare, while filling and satisfying, a casserole can be a great way to feed your family for any occasion. Give one of these classic bakes a try for a soothing, satisfying meal.

3 Quick Crock Pot Cakes

 

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Have you ever wished you could combine the convenience of crock pot cooking with the deliciousness of desserts? Surprisingly, there are actually many crock pot recipes for cakes and breads that make baking easier than ever.

We’ve compiled a few simple and sumptuous favorites for you below.

 

Quick Chocolate Cake

You will need:

  • 1 package (6 serving size) instant chocolate pudding and pie mix
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 package (18 ounces) chocolate cake mix, plus ingredients to prepare mix
  • Whipped topping (optional)

 

  1. Spray crock pot slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Empty pudding mix into crock pot and whisk in milk.
  1. Prepare cake mix according to directions, blending well. Pour cake blend into crock pot. Do not stir.
  1. Cover and cook on high 1½ hours or until cake is set.

 

Note: Serve warm, with whipped topping, if desired.

 

Berry Perfect Pound Cake

You will need:

  • 1 package (16 ounces) pound cake mix, plus ingredients to prepare mix
  • ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and powdered sugar

 

  1. Spray crock pot slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray.
  1. Prepare cake mix according to directions, stirring in brown sugar, flour and cinnamon.
  1. Pour batter into crock pot and cook on high 1½ to 1¾ hours, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

 

Note: Serve with berries and powdered sugar, if desired.

 

Butterscotch Macadamia Pudding Cake

You will need:

  • 1 box (18 ounces) golden yellow cake mix
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup butterscotch morsels
  • ½ cup chopped macadamia nuts (or any nut you prefer)

 

  1. Spray crock pot slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray.
  1. Combine cake mix, water, eggs, sour cream and oil and mix well.
  1. Pour batter into crock pot and cook on high 2 hours, or until batter is set.
  1. Sprinkle butterscotch morsels and chopped macadamia nuts over surface of cake. Cover, and cook 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

 

Note: Serve warm, with whipped cream, if desired.

 

Pecan-Cinnamon Spice Cake

You will need:

  • 1¼  cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½  cup milk
  • 5 tablespoons margarine or butter, melted
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1½ cups water
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • Whipped cream

 

  1. Stir together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and ginger in a medium bowl. Add milk and 3 tablespoons of margarine or butter, and mix until blended. Stir in the pecans and spread mixture across bottom of crock pot.
  1. Combine water, brown sugar and remaining 2 tablespoons butter or margarine in small saucepan, and bring to a boil. Pour melted butter and sugar mixture over batter in crock pot.
  1. Cover and cook on high 1¼ to 1½ hours, or until cake is set and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Let stand uncovered for 30 minutes, and serve.

 

Note: This cake goes well with glazed pears. Garnish with whipped cream, if desired.

 

 

It may be an unconventional way to bake a cake, but crock pot cakes, breads and desserts are a great way to make tasty, traditional desserts in half the time.

 

 

A Culinary World Tour: Chicken 4 Ways in 30 Minutes

 

 

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As much as we’d love the luxury of long, relaxing hours in the kitchen to cook at our leisure, life doesn’t always allow us that kind of time. That’s why we’ve compiled these 30 minute chicken-based meals for your convenience.

 

Chicken Cacciatore with Polenta

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 roll refrigerated polenta, cut into slices
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • ½ cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon oregano or Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 can (14 ounces) fire-roasted tomatoes, diced
  • 1 can (4 ounces) mushroom pieces and stems, drained
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  1. In a nonstick skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil over high. Cook half of polenta slices in oil, about 5 to 8 minutes, turning once, until golden brown. Repeat with remaining polenta slices, and remove from skillet, covering all slices to keep them warm.
  1. In same skillet, cook chicken, onion, bell pepper, garlic, Italian seasoning (or oregano) and salt over medium heat, stirring frequently.
  1. Add tomatoes and mushrooms, heat to boiling, then reduce heat to medium low. Simmer uncovered 3-5 minutes, or until chicken is fully cooked.
  1. Sprinkle chicken mixture and polenta slices with freshly chopped parsley, and serve.

 

Greek Chicken and Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups uncooked rotini pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • ½ cup balsamic vinaigrette dressing
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cups chopped chicken
  • 6 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves
  • ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • ½ cup finely diced cucumber
  1. Cook and drain pasta as directed on package.
  1. In a nonstick skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high. Cook onion in oil until softened, stirring frequently. Add dressing, tomatoes and chicken.
  1. Cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until hot. Stir in spinach and cook until it starts to wilt.
  1. Toss pasta with chicken mixture in a large bowl, top with feta cheese and finely diced cucumber, and serve.

 

Green Chile Chicken Alfredo

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups uncooked penne pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 can (4 ounces) diced green chiles
  • 1 jar (16 ounces) Alfredo pasta sauce
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro
  1. Cook and drain pasta as directed on package.
  1. In a nonstick skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high. Cook chicken and garlic in oil, stirring occasionally, until chicken is fully cooked and no longer pink in center.
  1. Stir in Alfredo sauce, and cook for two minutes, stirring frequently.
  1. Spoon chicken mixture over pasta, sprinkle with freshly chopped cilantro, and serve.

 

Thai Peanut Chicken and Noodles

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces uncooked thin spaghetti
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
  • ¼ cup chopped green onions
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, julienned into strips
  • 1½ cups chicken broth
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • ¼ cup chopped salted peanuts
  1. Cook and drain spaghetti as directed on package.
  1. In a nonstick skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high and cook chicken, stirring occasionally, until thoroughly cooked. Add green onions and bell pepper, and cook 4 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
  1. In a small bowl, mix broth, cayenne pepper, salt and cornstarch. Stir into chicken and vegetables, and then add peanut butter. Cook 2 minutes, or until sauce thickens. Spoon over spaghetti, top with chopped peanuts, and serve.

 

We’ve given you Italian, Greek, Mexican and Thai recipes from which to choose, and we know you’re busy, so pick out your favorite and give it a try tonight. You’re only 30 minutes away from a delicious dinner!

 

 

 

 

 

3 Cheers for Cheesecake! How to Pair Desserts with Wine

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Pairing desserts with wine isn’t easy, but when it’s done well, it’s a deliciously elegant treat that can make your gathering an instant success.

A general rule for finding the right wine to compliment a dessert is to make sure the wine is a bit sweeter than the dessert in most cases, but not all. Sometimes a crisp, dry wine can be just the thing to offset a particular flavor in the best way possible.

As with pairing wines and other foods, when pairing with desserts, it’s still important to strike a balance between acidity and sweetness. Below, we’ve given you a list of popular desserts and some wines you might serve with them to bring out the best in both.

  1. Classic Cheesecake—

The rich, creamy texture of a plain cheesecake works great with sparkling wines, Champagne or nice Sauternes. Depending on the flavors you choose to add to your cheesecake, such as different types of fruits, you may want to go in a different direction with your beverage.

  1. Apricot-Glazed Cheesecake—

An orange Muscat wine would be a lively pairing with any dessert featuring apricots, as the citrus would brighten the potentially heavy honey-like qualities of the glaze and enhance the fruitiness of the apricots.

  1. Chocolate Cheesecake—

A vintage port is the go-to wine for any chocolate and vino partnership, but don’t write off the lighter reds, as a late harvest zinfandel or cabernet sauvignon can also serve as a good match. Generally, as the desserts get darker and richer, so do the wines, so with something as light as a chocolate-flavored cheesecake, you can get away with a lighter wine.

  1. Caramel/Turtle Cheesecake—

To properly balance the buttery decadence of caramel, red wine is definitely your number one choice. A Pinot noir or nice Shiraz would be light and sweet, allowing the rich caramel to shine while still keeping the balance between acid and sugar.

  1. Pumpkin Cheesecake—

Popular around the holidays, the spicy, cinnamon notes of a pumpkin cheesecake are beautifully brought out by a white wine, pink champagne, or a Riesling, which can soften the spiciness, allowing the flavors to be appreciated without overpowering the taste buds.

  1. Strawberry/Blueberry/Raspberry Cheesecake—

A light sparkling white wine, such as a Moscato d’Asti will enhance the sweet and dynamic notes of the berries on your cheesecake, but if you’d prefer something less sweet, a light rosé will work as well.

  1. Almond, Pecan or Walnut Cheesecake—

If your cheesecake recipe involves nuts, or perhaps a glaze involving fruit and nuts, remember that nuts pair wonderfully with a light Madeira or a sherry with nutty undertones. If your nutty glaze involves apples, a Pinot Gris, blueberry or even an Anjou wine can also be a good match.

  1. Lemon/Key Lime Cheesecake—

As with the apricots, citrus fruits are also best served with a Muscat, sparkling white wine or Champagne to keep the flavors light and refreshing.

Don’t forget that pairing desserts like cheesecakes with wine doesn’t have to be an occasional after-dinner activity. You can even have a theme party if you’d like where the sole purpose of your gathering is to try new wines and cheesecakes together. Take notes, take pictures, and have a sweet time. Enjoy!

Dinosaur Dinners: What to Know Before You Go Paleo

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The Paleo diet is a growing trend in the world of fitness, with many athletes promoting its propensity for building muscle and increasing energy, thanks to high protein and clean eating.

“Paleo” is short for “Paleolithic” because the premise is that cavemen didn’t have to worry about modern health issues like type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure — and we’re hoping that by eating as our ancestors did, we might also avoid these problems.

Back before industrialized farming, people had to hunt and gather for meals, which means there were no legumes, grains or dairy products, eliminating these choices from the Paleo diet (along with sugar, alcohol, starchy vegetables, salty, or processed foods). Whole, natural foods such as vegetables, nuts, fruits, fish, lean meats, seafood, healthy fats and eggs are allowed.

If you are considering going Paleo to see if you feel better, stronger and more energetic, you should know the pros and cons of adopting this diet. Below, the positives and negatives are listed to help you decide if eating like a caveman is right for you.

 

The Pros of Paleo:

1. Real Food is Best—

Eliminating processed foods full of chemicals, dyes, additives and preservatives from our diet is always a good thing, no matter what.

Many people have food allergies and negative reactions to the extras added to processed foods without even realizing the cause — and it can be hard to pinpoint which chemical is causing the problem when you’re eating entire lists of them.

By choosing foods in their natural, simple state, you will eliminate the risk of ingesting carcinogens, allergens, gluten, or otherwise inflammatory response-inducing substances.

2. Less Carbs, Lower Blood Sugar—

Without grains and starchy vegetables, which can elevate glucose levels, the Paleo diet is great for people with pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes who are trying to control their blood sugar to avoid medication/insulin therapy.

Protein is a large part of this caveman style of eating, with meat, eggs and nuts being a primary source of calories. Protein is a highly recommended food option for diabetics because it has a lower glycemic index and takes longer to burn, providing steady energy without blood sugar spikes.

One study found that participants following the Paleo diet showed improved glucose tolerance, increased insulin secretion and insulin sensitivity compared to the group eating carbohydrates. (Source: The Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology.)

3. Vegetables are Healthy—

Unlike the Atkins/high-protein diet craze, the Paleo diet recommends that followers eat plenty of vegetables.

If leafy green vegetables like kale and spinach are included, the calcium in these will help make up for the calcium sources formerly provided by dairy.

Eating plenty of non-starchy vegetables will also provide the body with plenty of vitamins, minerals, and the fiber needed to keep the digestive system moving smoothly, avoiding the constipation sometimes caused by eating too much meat.

 

The Cons of Paleo:  

1. Modern Meat is Fatty—

The animals our ancestors hunted ran free and were naturally lean, unlike the animals of today’s industrialized farming system with no room to exercise, crowded into pens, and overfed on purpose.

This means today’s meat is not as healthy as Paleolithic era meat would have been, making it important to buy free-range, grass-fed and antibiotic-free meat whenever possible.

Saturated fats can lead to high cholesterol, kidney problems and inflammation, so most nutritionists recommend Paleo participants choose fish, nuts, seeds and lean protein sources while eating plenty of vegetables on this diet, rather than using the plan as an excuse to overindulge in steaks and burgers.

2. Not Vegetarian/Vegan Friendly—

If you eschew meat or all animal products, this may not be the diet for you, as eliminating starchy vegetables, legumes and all grains will leave you with less food options than you already have.

For example: Beans and rice combined create a complete protein to replace meat, but neither food is allowed on this diet.

Vegetarians will still be able to use eggs as a source for protein, but vegans will be left with mainly nuts, avocados and seeds. Vegetables do contain a surprising amount of protein, however, so if careful food choices are made, a vegan can go Paleo.

3. Time and Money Consuming—

Because of the limited nature of the Paleo diet, those who follow it must plan weekly menus extremely well to include a variety of foods, or nutritional deficits may form quickly.

If plenty of different vegetables are consumed, this will greatly increase the chances of meeting vitamin and mineral needs, especially if plenty of calcium-rich greens are included in the diet.

Another caveat: Grass-fed, lean, free-range meat and organic, fresh vegetables can be expensive, so this diet may also be expensive to maintain.

 

The Paleo diet has plenty of positives to offer, such as whole, natural foods and fresh vegetables. With more people than ever before becoming gluten intolerant, this grain-free way of eating may be very appealing. But vegetarians, those with kidney problems, cardiovascular issues, or trouble digesting meat will find the caveman life intolerable.

Read the pros and cons above before you go Paleo to decide if it’s the right dietary plan for you.

 

 

No Food Left Behind: Money-Saving Tips to Give Leftovers New Life

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Throwing away uneaten food is like throwing away money, and none of us can really afford to do that; yet leftover foods often languish in the refrigerator, slowly moving past the point of edible. This is generally because nobody wants to eat the same meal over and over again. Variety is the spice of life, after all.

Fortunately for frugally-minded moms and dime-pinching dads, there are plenty of tricks to turn leftover food into completely different meals, reducing waste and saving money. Below is a list of 8 tips recommended by smart cooks who know how to keep the food budget low and the flavor factor high.

 

Top Tips to Give Leftovers a New Life: 

 

1. Consider a Casserole—

If your meal last night involved separate meat and vegetable dishes, don’t be afraid to combine them into a casserole by chopping them up, and then adding cheese, bread crumbs, eggs or whatever else sounds like it might work.

Some of the best recipes your family will love come from impromptu experiments such as these, so don’t be afraid to get creative. And if it works well, quickly write down the ingredients so you can recreate the magic again another time.

 

2. Contemplate a Quiche—

Extra veggies leftover, such as broccoli or cauliflower? A vegetable and cheese quiche is a great way to get healthy food into your family while using up side dishes that might have been thrown away.

As eggs are the main ingredient, a quiche offers plenty of protein, but if you want to include meat, such as bacon or diced ham, this will only enhance the cheesy deliciousness of your fluffy fare, so add ingredients freely.

 

3. Super Sandwiches—

To give last night’s meat dish a new life, dice it into small pieces or use a food processor if desired, add mayonnaise and seasonings, and… voila! You now have chicken or turkey salad, or perhaps even a fancy version of tuna salad featuring salmon or tilapia.

Hardboiled eggs, pickles, olives, celery or even capers can be added to give new life to meat-salad sandwiches, and don’t forget that lettuce and tomato can add a nice, fresh element.

 

4. Bring Back the Bread—

Breathe new life into stale bread by using it to make French toast: extra can even be refrigerated or frozen for later breakfasts.

When seasoned, cubed and toasted in the oven, bread you might have fed to the birds can now be added to salads for crunch and flavor.

Bread can also be dried, blended into crumbs and saved to use for coating chicken and fish. Making kids homemade chicken nuggets with your leftover breadcrumbs is an excellent way to not only save money, but feed them a healthier version this usually-processed favorite.

And don’t forget bread pudding, the old-fashioned dessert created expressly to use up bread before it expires. There are plenty of modern versions of this recipe out there—or you can always make up your own awesome new one.

 

5. Tortillas to the Rescue—

Whether you’re making wraps, fajitas or burritos, tortillas can serve as a wonderful way to present last night’s leftovers in an entirely original manner.

Adding salsa, cheese, avocadoes, tomatoes, lettuce, or sour cream to diced pieces of steak or chicken can turn baked, boring cuts of last night’s meat into a fun family fiesta!

Also: If you’ve turned leftover meat into a chicken, turkey or tuna salad, layer it with lettuce and tomatoes to make a fresh, healthy lunch wrap.

 

6. Pass the Pasta—

By keeping spare jars of marinara and Alfredo in the pantry, you can dice up last night’s dinner meat and vegetables and add them to a red or cream sauce. Feel free to throw in the mushrooms that need to be used before they go bad, or any other soon-expiring vegetables in your crisper to prevent waste.

By serving your saucy creation over good old affordable pasta, you’ll give your family a nutritious Italian-style meal that tastes nothing like last night’s dinner.

 

8. Bring It to Breakfast—

Scrambled or in an omelet, plenty of dinner items like cooked vegetables and diced meats can make a hearty and satisfying breakfast for the whole family.

Baked or grilled potatoes from last night’s dinner can be cut up, then fried or baked to create hash-browns or diced breakfast potatoes that go great with eggs, bacon, or biscuits and gravy.

 

With a creative mind and some crafty culinary moves, it’s easy to use up leftover food that might have been thrown away. Save money and eliminate pointless food waste with the helpful tips above to give leftovers a chance to become a new meal.