3-Day Detox Cleanse – Day One is Done!

Okay, I’m a meat and potatoes kind of gal, always have been.  In the past few years, however, I’ve become more health conscious, cutting back on red meat, eating more lean fish, poultry and incorporating more fruits and vegetables into my daily diet.  As part of my nutritional research, I’ve collaborated with a registered dietitian to see which plan works best for my age and current health condition.detox cleanse

As I mentioned in a previous post, I decided to include a Detox Cleanse as part of my Spring Cleaning plan.  Detox cleanses come in all shapes and sizes; celebrities swear by them.  Most of those, however, do more harm than good.  They’re aimed at reducing weight rapidly, with the majority of it being water weight.  Along with the weight, your body also loses essential  nutrients.  In the short term, a daily fast or cleanse may not be harmful but without the vitamins and minerals your body needs to survive, these types of cleanses are not sustainable.

My research once again brought me back to the 3-Day Detox Cleanse.  This plan was developed by a family physician specializing in Functional Medicine, Dr. Mark Hyman.  It was introduced by renowned cardiac physician, Dr. Mehmet Oz.  The purpose is not primarily to lose weight, but eliminate toxins from your body, giving you more energy and clarity. 

There are side effects that go along with this detox cleanse but I haven’t experienced any as yet.  Each meal is the same, followed for 3 days.  Here’s the plan:

Detox Cleanse Breakfast SmoothieBreakfast

Morning Detox Tea:  Green Tea with 1 slice lemon and 1 tsp. Stevia

Breakfast Drink:

1 cup water

1 tbsp. flax seed

1 cup raspberries

1 banana

1/4 cup spinach

1 tbsp. almond butter

2 tsp. fresh lemon juice     Mix all ingredients in a blender or juicer

1/2 Multivitamin and Probiotic Supplement

Detox Cleanse Lunch SmoothieLunch Drink:

4 celery stalks

1 cucumber

1 cup kale leaves

½ green apple

½ lime, squeezed

1 tbsp. coconut oil

½ cup almond milk, unsweetened

1 cup pineapple       Mix all ingredients in a blender or juicer

 1/2 Multivitamin and Omega-3 Supplement

 Snack:  Repeat favorite drink

 Detox Cleanse Dinner SmoothieDinner Drink:

1/2 cup mango

1 cup blueberries

1-1/2 cup coconut water

1 cup kale leaves

1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1/4 avocado

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 tbsp. flax seeds       Mix all ingredients in a blender or juicer

 Detox Ultra Bath:  (at night)

Add 2-1/2 cups Epsom Salt and 10 drops Lavender Oil to a warm bath and S-O-A-K for 20 minutes.  (Sorry, photos off limits…nothing to see here folks!)

I’m not a huge fan of lavender so I opted for the Epsom salts and some bath oil I already had on hand.  It was heavenly, but having to clean the bathtub afterward spoiled the mood!

I’m familiar with what my personal nutritional needs are but recommend anyone attempting this or any other diet, consult with your physician first.  Some side effects can be fatigue, constipation, diarrhea, irritability or headache.  Don’t forget, some of these side effects are as a result of toxins leaving your system.  If you’re used to having caffeine, you may experience a headache due to withdrawal.  I normally have 2-3 cups of coffee in the mornings yet didn’t get a headache.  I wasn’t hungry either; couldn’t even have my SNACK smoothie, yet some people experience hunger.  It could just be that you’re not used to having liquid meals and prefer solids.Detox Cleanse Breakfast Smoothie blended

 I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Breakfast Drink; it wasn’t like the “Vitameatavegamin” Lucy Riccardo advertised but it’s not a fruity smoothie either.  Once my tastebuds got used to the flavor and texture, I enjoyed it.Detox Cleanse Lunch Smoothie blended

The Lunch Drink however was another story.  It was thick and not at all appealing to me.  This is where my husband called it quits.  He had about 4 mouthfuls but couldn’t finish the rest.   He was able to drink the Breakfast Smoothie but just could not get this one down.  Ha ha… I knew he wouldn’t last!  But now I’m lonely and have to finish the remainder of the plan by myself.

 Detox Cleanse Dinner Smoothie blendedThe Dinner Drink was okay, much better than the Lunch Drink but not as good as the Breakfast Drink.  Drinking several glasses of water throughout the day along with exercise helped curb my anxiety and appetite.  I’m going to bed feeling both full and sleepy.

 So Day 1 is finished.  Yea, I survived!  Only 2 more days to go.  I think I can, I think I can…

 When the world says, “Give up,” Hope whispers, “Try it one more time.” ~ Author Unknown

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In Anticipation…

SnowI wasn’t happy to wake this morning to find everything covered with snow AGAIN…and it was still coming down.  Looking on the bright side, at least it wasn’t more than 6 inches – manageable but still took over an hour to shovel… by myself.  What’s with the groundhog though, who said “oh yeah, Spring is right around the corner?” 

 Thankfully I was able to enjoy my morning coffee in peace before heading off through the snow to the hairdresser.  New stylists always frighten me.  I’m never certain how my hair will turn out.  But I had a coupon; the salon was rated well so I thought, “what the heck?”  The cut and color were perfect; the styling, not so much.  Another experience to keep in mind.  At least with a good cut, I can style it as I like.

Detox Diet FoodsThe best part of the day was heading off to the grocery store to gather all my ingredients for the 3-Day Detox Cleanse I’m beginning tomorrow…with DH as my partner.  This is the first time he’s actually agreeing to any type of diet or exercise regimen.  I’m impressed (on the surface.)  The bill was around $90, I had some ingredients at home already and it was for two people; total cost about $15 per person per day.  Pretty good I’d say.Receipt 

Tonight however, we slid to the dark side, knowing full well we’d be deprived of our wildest desires (solid foods, especially breads and chocolate) for 3 full days!  We ate with complete abandon…fried flounder, brown rice, spinach and mushrooms.  The dessert, chocolate fudge ice cream (albeit low sugar) , was the highlight!

 We’re going to enjoy the remainder of the evening, relaxing on the couch, switching between World Cup Baseball and movies on the big screen, accompanied by snuggly, warm furry creatures, as the fire crackles in the background.

 Tomorrow begins an experiment of will, determination and perseverance.  Let’s see who folds first!

Eager for Spring: Fresh Omelets and Salads

“Cultivation to the mind is as necessary as food to the body.” ~ Marcus Tullius Cicero

IMG_0355The past few days have been hectic but for no particular reason.  Ever have those kinds of days where you do LOTS of NOTHING and by the end of the day, you’re exhausted but feel you didn’t get anything worthwhile accomplished?  Made me long for the peace and serenity of Hawaii.

I can’t wait for Spring and am tired of making the same old meals every day.  Checking the fridge I found lots of fresh veggies just calling out to me. I usually don’t buy such a variety, since it’s only the two of us now and I’m the only one who really eats vegetables.  But I’m very happy I had them on hand.

These meals were healthy, tasty, satisfying and best of all, easy to make. 

 Egg White_Spinach_Mushroom Omelet

Egg White, Spinach and Mushroom Omelet

Ingredients:

·       3 egg whites

·       1 tbsp skim milk

·       ½ tsp Italian herbs (or your choice)

·       Freshly ground black pepper

·       1 cup chopped fresh spinach

·       ¼ cup sliced fresh mushrooms

·       1 tbsp reduced-fat cheese, shredded (I used Sargento Low Fat 4-Cheese Italian; can also substitute Parmesan if desired.)

Preparation:

1.    Whisk egg whites, milk and herbs together in a small bowl.

2.    Spray small skillet with cooking spray and heat on medium heat.

3.    Add mushrooms to pan and sauté 1-2 minutes.  Add spinach.

4.    As soon as spinach begins to wilt, pour egg white mixture over vegetables.

5.    When edges of mixture begin to set, lift sides and gently tilt skillet to allow remaining liquid to flow underneath.

6.    When egg white mixture is fully cooked, sprinkle shredded cheese on top.

7.    Fold omelet in half and serve immediately.

Avocado_Tuna Salad

 Avocado and Tuna Salad

Ingredients:

·       1 avocado

·       1 can ( 5oz.) tuna in water, drained

·       2 cups romaine lettuce

·       6 grape tomatoes, halved

·       1 cup sliced, peeled cucumber

·       2 hard-boiled egg whites, sliced

·       1 peeled carrot, grated or julienned

·       ½ lemon, squeezed, juice

·       2 tbsp. lite honey mustard dressing

Preparation:

1.    Slice avocado, remove pit and scoop contents into small bowl.  Add drained tuna and blend both together with fork.

2.    Add tomatoes, cucumber, hard-boiled egg whites and carrots over lettuce. 

3.    Mound avocado and tuna mixture on top.

4.    Sprinkle lemon juice and dressing over top as desired.

 Enough for 2 servings.

I hope you try one of these for your next meal.  They’re a nice change and make me eager for Spring!  Bon Appetit!

Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On! – Turbo Cardio Day 3

PainWhen the world says, “Give up,”
Hope whispers, “Try it one more time.” ~ Author Unknown

The past two days of workouts have been quite challenging. Damn change-ups; I’m used to 4-8 repetitions at a time, not every other move. I’d like to set up an old laptop with a webcam to record my workouts. This way I can see my form (insert joke…now!). While I take the exercise and nutritional part of this program seriously, I won’t fool myself into believing I’ll look anything like Chalene Johnson after 90 days of Turbo Fire. I’m a strawberry blonde, after all, with a few more years under my belt!

Don’t worry, you’ll see my video soon. I took a photo prior to starting this intensive cardio plan but will not be posting it until after I complete the full 90 day workout. At that time, I’ll post the “before” and “after” photos. It seems that’s what most people do. Side by side, I can examine the results of my efforts, provided I’m still standing by then.

As far as meals go, I haven’t really changed them in the past few days except for dinner. The other day I made a large turkey for dinner, froze most of it for future meals (soups, warm salads, low-fat casseroles) and that’s what I made last night. I served the turkey over rice with a little gravy for my family with some stuffing and vegetables while I ate it plain with just vegetables.  Tonight it was flank steak. 

Fitness Pal (2)

The “Fitness Pal” gives you an idea of the type of entries I’ve been making daily.

What a huge change from the previous Sculpt and Tone video I used for weeks. They don’t even compare. I have to have a new mindset and new moves for this type of workout. Thankfully, I’m practicing now before I begin my official 90-day program on Monday. BABY STEPS….’cause I can’t keep up…yet.

In the meantime, here are some healthy snacks ideas to help satisfy and energize during the day. Choose to stick with snacks that are about 100 to 200 calories with 15 to 30 grams of carbohydrates. Try these healthy options.

Salty Snacks
Kale Chips1. Cheesy kale chips Tear kale leaves into large pieces and arrange on a baking sheet. Spritz with olive oil and bake in a 350°F oven until crisp. While still
warm, sprinkle with a little grated Parmesan cheese.

2. Tamari-seasoned rice crackers A salt lover’s best choice for scooping up low-fat tuna salad or another healthy dip; punch them up with a squeeze of chili sauce. (Read the label to make sure you stick to one serving of crackers.)

3. Mediterranean artichoke hearts Drain canned artichoke hearts and sprinkle
with lemon zest, capers, chopped fresh basil, and olive oil.

Pumpkin Seeds4. Five-spice pumpkin seeds
 Toss salted pumpkin seeds with sesame oil and Chinese five-spice powder; bake at 350°F until crisp.

5. Buffalo popcorn
 Toss air-popped popcorn with olive oil, chili powder, and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

6. Spicy wheat pretzels
 Whole wheat pretzels (which boast 4 grams of fiber
compared with 1 gram in the regular kind) become irresistible when slathered
with spicy mustard (only 5 calories per teaspoon). Add a couple of low-fat
cheese cubes to make this snack extra filling.

Crunchy Snacks
Chickpea Poppers7. Chickpea poppers Drain and rinse canned chickpeas, then dry them with a paper towel. Spritz with extra-virgin olive oil, season with dried oregano and garlic alt, and roast at 400°F until crisp.

8. Veggie chips with tangy yogurt Dunk root veggie chips (such as Terra chips) nto plain low-fat yogurt seasoned with hot sauce and orange zest.

9. Cheesy dip Dunk sugar snap peas into 1/4 cup fat-free ricotta cheese.

10. Easy salsa Chop up tomatoes, cucumber, bell peppers, beans, and onions in a
mini food processor, then scoop on melba toast.

11. Tangy pear boats Fill endive spears with chopped pears and season with a
dash of balsamic vinegar. Add 12 almonds for extra crunch and some heart-healthy
unsaturated fat.

12. Veggie yogurt dip Combine finely chopped broccoli, multicolored bell
peppers, and scallions with fat-free Greek yogurt and onion flakes. Use it as a
dip for baby carrots.

Sweet Snacks
Cottage Cheese Fruit13. Fruity cottage cheese Fold chopped ripe nectarines into low-fat cottage heese, and spoon onto a couple of gingersnaps. (Read the label to make sure you tick to a single serving of gingersnaps.)

14. Chocolaty pears Minimalist, yet amazingly delicious: Sprinkle cocoa nibs on canned pears.

15. Sweet yogurt dip Stir a little diet maple syrup or agave nectar into fat-free Greek yogurt, and dunk slices of apples or pears.

Fruit Kebabs16. Fruit kebabs. Spear the sweetest fruits—strawberries, mango, grapes, and pineapple – with bamboo skewers.

17. “Banana cream pie” Spread graham crackers with vanilla fat-free Greek  yogurt, then top with a handful of banana slices and a sprinkle of ground flaxseed. (Read the label to make sure you stick to one serving of graham crackers.)

18. Grapefruit brûlée Transform a simple grapefruit into something decadent: Halve it; drizzle each half with a little dark honey (use concentrated sweets sparingly), and broil until bubbly.

Creamy Snacks
Mashed sweet potatoes19. Easy mashed sweet potato Microwave a small sweet potato, split it open, and mash a little OJ and cinnamon into it. Eat it right out of the jacket.

20. White bean dip Mash canned white beans with olive oil and chopped fresh rosemary. Pile onto radicchio or lettuce leaves.

21. Creamy pita Spread baba ghanoush, crushed avocado, or hummus on a whole wheat pita or whole wheat English muffin.

Scrambled Eggs22. Soft-scrambled egg It’s the most sublimely simple protein-packed treat.

23. Spicy potatoes Baby red potatoes become blissfully soft when you microwave them for 3 to 5 minutes (leave the skin on for its nutrients). Sprinkle with pepper and dried seasonings. Add a pat of Greek yogurt for a healthy sour cream replacement.

24. Italian antipasto Raid the supermarket antipasto bar for some lusciously creamy slow-roasted red peppers. Pat the oil off with a paper towel, and eat with a mini bocconcini or two. Delizioso!

(Thank you Readers Digest and Thinkstock for the wonderful snack tips and photos!)

Happiest of Holidays to You!

Tree2Wow, it’s Christmas Eve already. My daughter has been home from college since the 15th and I’m enjoying every minute with her (when she’s not out with her friends!) I didn’t realize how much I’d miss her…she’s matured so much since August. Home for the holidays – what could be better than that!

Last minute shopping, LOTS of baking and cookie decorating and a little more cleaning and I’ll be finished – all ready for Santa to come. Visiting family tomorrow will be wonderful. Brothers and sisters and their families I haven’t seen in a long time will be there too! How blessed I am to have such a large and loving family!

Since the tragedy in Connecticut on December 14th, I haven’t felt much like writing. Too many thoughts were going through my mind and I couldn’t decide whether to write about the holiday season or just wait and treasure the quiet moments shared with my loved ones. Although school is finally over, I have much planning to do for the future. Sometimes, the thoughts of it can be overwhelming.

I did receive a surprise package in the mail this afternoon from my niece andGhost Hunters Book (2) goddaughter who lives in California. She, like me, enjoys reading about the paranormal; however she is also a paranormal investigator. It’s ironic that I never realized this until a few years ago. This afternoon, I received an autographed book in the mail by the author of “Ghosthunting Southern California.” Sally Richards is a friend and member of their “ghost group,” Roadside Paranormal.

Okay, so this gift may not be what you would consider bedside reading during the Christmas holidays, but it’s great if you enjoy reading about ghosts and everything paranormal by the fire on a cold, dark night. I’m looking forward to reading it as soon as I find some quiet time when I’m not too exhausted from the holiday bustle.

To energize myself after the holidays, I have Chalene Johnson’s TurboFire workout to begin. That was a gift from my oldest brother who had great results from following the Beachbody workouts with Tony Horton. He’s 16 years my senior and in better physical condition than I am. That doesn’t say a lot for me and my exercise regime to date! However, what’s better than the New Year to begin a new routine?

My low-cholesterol eating plan has been working out pretty well. I’ve maintained a 4-lb. weight loss…not really too concerned about losing more until after the holidays. I just can’t resist the treats that are abundant this time of year. Moderation is the key and I’m permitting limited amounts of sweets while I continue eating lot of fresh fruits and vegetables in place of sugary foods.

White chocolate Cranberry cookiesI have to say I’ve made Teresa (Can’t Keep Out of the Kitehcn)’s White Chocolate and Cranberry cookies…and they’re delicious. Bringing them tomorrow along with a couple of others. My camera is so bad; can’t post too many pictures…but rest assured, dessert will be delicious!White chocolate Cranberry cookies1

 

 

My daughter, as tradition, opened one of her gifts tonight and loved the Vera Bradley travel case we bought her. It’s perfect for her little lotions and make up things and matches her purse. She was thrilled! Santa was good and we can’t wait till tomorrow.vera bradley

As long as we’re healthy and happy, what more could we ask? I hope everyone who reads this has a wonderful and peaceful holiday. My best wishes for a healthy and happy New Year! Thanks for reading!

Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.  ~Laura Ingalls Wilder

Wonderful Team Member Readership Award

wonderful-readership-award

Last week, Can’t Stay Out of the Kitchen nominated me for the “Wonderful Team Member Readership Award!”  I was ecstatic!

Unfortunately I wasn’t quite sure what that meant, nor how I should respond.  This was the second person that nominated me for something; I apologize that I did not act on the first.  My excuse is I was new and naïve…until now! 

I sincerely appreciate Can’t Stay Out of the Kitchen for nominating me for this award.  I am extremely grateful to all of my “fans” who make awards like this possible.  If it were not for the “Likes” or “Comments” I’ve received on my pages, I’d feel like a virtual blogger in a haystack!

To all of you who have taken the time to read my posts, I offer a great big, warm

THANK YOU! 

wonderful-readership-award

So now, here are the rules for the award, which are fairly simple to follow:

Nominate 14 other blogs to receive the award.

Here are my 14 recommendations (in no particular order):

Keeping it Real Mom – Life of a Real mom with Real challenges

Bucket List Publications – Lesley Carter is Adventurer Extraordinaire

Rebecca 2000 – For those who go where no one dares

Dianne Gray – Acclaimed Australian author

The Jenny Mac Book Blog – Artful Young Adult writer

All Seasons Cyclist – Any and all things Cycling

Fiammisday – Fabulous fashions for mom and baby

To Be Aware – Self Awareness and Fulfillment

i Game Mom – Educational applications for kids

Watch Out World – Food, crafts and fun in the blogosphere

Patrick Latter – Wondrous Canadian Hiking Photography and more

A Lot On Your Plate -Ccreative & practical tips, recipes, and more

The Better Man Projects –  One man’s heartwarming motivational journey

Mix It Up and Make It Nice – Great baking and hosting blog

THANK YOU…THANK YOU…THANK YOU!!!

Nothin’ Says Lovin’ Like Something From the Oven! (Pillsbury)

I’m excited it’s that time of year again when I liberate my holiday cookie cutters and utensils from their year-long refuge and prepare my kitchen for a virtual holiday bake-off.

 This year, I was asked to bring cookies to the Thanksgiving feast.  I enjoy making dozens of different cookies but I’ll have to narrow it down.  Everyone loves sugar cookies.  I have three favorite recipes; each with a different twist.  My personal favorite is the one made with cream cheese.  After scouring my holiday cookbooks and personal recipe files, I’ve decided to make decorative sugar cookie snowflakes, peanut blossoms (the kids’ favorites), chocolate raisin oatmeal cookies and linzer cookies (to start)!

 I’ll be careful what I have for dinner on Thanksgiving, sticking as best I can with the low-cholesterol meal plan I’m following, however I will allow myself a treat or two because after all, isn’t that what the holidays are for?  I couldn’t possibly spend an entire day enjoying my family without a little indulgence, namely dessert.  I only wish I could allow myself to bring some treats back home with me, but I can’t if I want to avoid the temptation. 

 After baking and decorating the cookies, I’ll be posting the recipes along with photos.  For now, it’s time to finish my holiday cleaning, do some decorating, complete writing assignments and get ready for the big day! 

“I figured if I was going to make the world a better place, I’d do it with cookies.” ~ Ana Pascal, Stranger than Fiction

Low Cholesterol Cooking with Rice Bran Oil

My latest research into low cholesterol meal plans led me to a new type of cooking oil.  I first heard of rice bran oil from a Dr. Oz show earlier in the year.  He again mentioned its benefit at a health symposium I attended this past June.  After further study, I discovered rice bran oil is especially versatile.  My own personal decision to use it comes from my desire to reduce cholesterol.  After using it in the preparation of several meals, I enthusiastically endorse it.

 Everyone should realize our body needs a certain amount of dietary fat for optimum health.  However, the most beneficial ones are mono and polyunsaturated fats.  Most popular cooking oils or fats, including butter, are high in saturated and trans fats.  They are also higher in calories; an important consideration if you are seeking to lose weight.  Rice bran oil contains phylosterols which help reduce cholesterol absorption, is rich in gamma oryzanol, Omega-6 fatty acids, Vitamin E and antioxidants, all of which have been shown in clinical research to help lower cholesterol and benefit overall health.

 One of the reasons I consider rice bran oil a new favorite is its high smoke point; another is its slightly nutty (almond) flavor.  I enjoy using it when stir-frying which is now becoming one of my “go to” choices for cooking.  Stir-frying enables me to pack more punch into a one-dish dinner than broiling, baking or grilling. 

 The other night, I made chicken stir-fry using rice bran oil, with a pepper, onion, carrots and broccoli.  If I had mushrooms, I would have added those too!  I chose reduced sodium chicken broth and soy sauce.  Next time, I may try the reduced sodium Worcestershire sauce to see if it makes a noticeable difference in overall flavor.  As a note, in the reduced sodium varieties, the Worcestershire has only 135 mg of sodium per tablespoon compared to 575 mg in the soy sauce (Lea & Perrins vs. Kikkoman).

My husband said he enjoyed the dish, which is important.  The basic recipe is easy.  Feel free to pick and choose a veggie or two of your own to add.

 Ingredients:

1/4 cup low sodium chicken broth 2 cups broccoli florets  
2 tbsp. reduced sodium soy sauce 1 green pepper (thinly sliced)  
2 tbsp. water 1/2 onion (thinly slice)  
1 tbsp. cornstarch 2 peeled carrots (thinly sliced, not shredded)  
2-3 tbsp. rice bran oil 1 pinch red pepper (dried crushed, optional)  
2 garlic cloves (chopped or diced)1/8 tsp. ground ginger or 1 TBSP grated fresh    
2-3 boneless skinless chicken breast halves(cut crosswise into 1/2 inch wide strips or chunks) Brown rice (hot cooked)  
   

 Directions:

  • If desired, season chicken with a salt substitute such as Nu-Salt® and pepper.
  • Whisk broth, soy sauce, water and cornstarch together until smooth.  Heat oil in a large skillet or wok over high heat.  Add garlic and ginger and stir about 30 seconds. Add chicken and stir-fry until white, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Add broccoli florets, pepper, onion, carrots and red pepper and continue stir-frying until vegetables are crisp-tender and chicken is just cooked through, about 3-5 minutes.  Push chicken & veggies to sides of pan and add cornstarch mixture to center.  Bring to boil, stirring constantly. Blend with chicken & veggies until sauce thickens, about 1 minute. Serve over rice.

Some people have also used rice bran oil in baking as a substitute for vegetable oil.  If I want to eliminate fat in baking, I generally do so with applesauce.  But it would be fun to experiment with the rice bran oil next time.  I’m trying to watch my carbohydrate intake as well, so sweets and other high carb foods may be off my list for a while (except on Thanksgiving…and then, only in moderation!)

I hope you consider trying rice bran oil in the future.  The cold-pressed varieties are best.  If you do, good luck and Bon Appetit!  I’m looking forward to creating lots of new recipes for my upcoming low cholesterol dietary adventure; my husband, not so much…he’ll miss his C’s…chocolate and cheese!

“Tout est question d’équilibre” ~ Mireille Guiliano

A Sweet Diversion

I’m going to take my mind off the elections today, temporarily, to focus on the next major holiday coming up on the calendar, Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving is my second favorite holiday because I’m usually in the company of family, and lots of them.  I can recall Thanksgivings from the time I was a child and every one of them were special. 

 For almost twenty years now, my eldest sister has had Thanksgiving at her home.  Her five married daughters and their families are always on hand as are some of my other brothers and sisters, often with their grown children or grandchildren.  Nobody comes empty handed.  The food is served buffet style and there’s usually enough to feed an army.  Of course, donations are always made to the food banks at our churches and communities before Thanksgiving to help those less fortunate.

 My sister’s home is very cozy and everyone always finds a place to sit and eat.  Many hands help prepare the food, set the table and clean up afterward.  There’s usually enough time in between or after dinner, watching football games, a movie and dessert to play a board game or two.  Scattergories, Pictionary, Trivial Pursuit or Scrabble are some of our favorites.

 One of my favorite desserts, provided I haven’t stuffed myself with appetizers or dinner, is cheesecake.  For Thanksgiving, I like to make a Chocolate Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake which, for me at least, combines the best of both worlds!  Here is the recipe I’m trying this year which is almost identical to the ones I’ve already tweaked from other cookbooks:

 Chocolate Swirled Pumpkin Cheesecake (courtesy of MomsWhoThink.com)

 Ingredients:

  •  1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate mini chips, divided
  • 3 pkgs. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

 Directions:

 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 9-inch springform pan.

 2. Combine graham cracker crumbs, butter and granulated sugar in medium bowl. Press onto bottom of prepared pan. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup chocolate chips.

 3. Microwave the remaining chocolate chips in medium, uncovered, microwave-safe bowl on HIGH power for 30 seconds; stir.  If necessary, microwave at additional 10- to 15-second intervals, stirring just until chips are melted; cool to room temperature.

 4. Beat cream cheese, granulated sugar and brown sugar until smooth; beat in pumpkin.

 5. Beat in eggs, evaporated milk, cornstarch, cinnamon and nutmeg. Remove 3/4 cup pumpkin mixture; stir into melted chocolate.

 6. Pour remaining pumpkin mixture into crust. Spoon chocolate-pumpkin mixture over top; swirl.

 7. Bake for 60 to 65 minutes or until edge is set but center still moves slightly. Cool in pan on wire rack.

 8. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Remove side of springform pan, serve.

 “A dessert without cheese is like a beautiful woman with only one eye.” ~ Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Gluten-Free Turkey and Spinach Meatballs

Yummie!  I was so hungry tonight after fooling around with Halloween decorations (still) all day.  Fortunately I remembered to defrost the ground turkey and frozen spinach.  In less than 45 minutes, most of which was waiting for the meatballs to bake, I had a tasty, gluten-free dinner.  Not much of a recipe follower unless I’m baking, I winged the recipe but hopefully you’ll be able to whip it up easily, should you find it’s worth a try.

By the way, since I did not have any gluten-free bread crumbs or special flours to use as a binder, I discovered the MixtBag GF Tortilla Chips, ground up, worked perfect!

Ingredients:

  • 1 package (1-1/4 lb) ground turkey (I used Shady Brook Farms)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 carrot, grated, 1/4 onion, grated (your preference)
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/3 cup GF tortilla chips, ground
  • 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp. ground pepper
  • 1 10-oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 jar Francesco Rinaldi Marinara Sauce

Directions:  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Beat egg in bowl.  Add vegetables, cheese, chips (or you can substitute GF bread crumbs if desired), Worcestershire sauce, spices and spinach.  Mix well.  Add ground turkey, combine thoroughly and shape mixture into balls (about 20 – all depends on how large you make them). 

Place meatballs on slotted rack on aluminum coated baking pan.  Bake 25-30 minutes. 

Remove meatballs and place in heated sauce for 5 to 10 minutes while you prepare a salad or GF pasta.  Serve and enjoy.

You notice there is very little fat left in the pan.  The aluminum foil makes for easy clean up too!

These meatballs were moist and nicely seasoned.  All the products I used indicated they were GF on the labels, including the 2 sauces.

I went off my meal/recipe plan tonight but I thought I owed it to myself.  Sometimes you have to change it up a little and add some spice to your life!

“Variety’s the very spice of life, That gives it all its flavor.” ~ William Cowper