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February 8th marks the Chinese New Year and this year is the Year of the Monkey Celebrating this holiday involves certain foods for their symbolic meaning, these foods are believed to bring good luck throughout the year.  These foods are served during the 16-day festival season, but especially on New Year’s Eve.  The most common foods include dumplings, fish, spring rolls, and niangao (a sticky rice cake that includes sugar, chestnuts, Chinese dates, and Lotus leaves).  While a Chinese restaurant would adhere to specific preparations of these dishes (there are ways to serve and prepare certain foods to obtain the most luck), if you simply want to acknowledge the holiday or add some new dishes to your recipe index, I’ve got a few ideas for you.

 

This Baked Herb Catfish recipe is a low-calorie option that is simple to make for your fish entrée.  Catfish is one of the fish choices that are supposed to bring the most luck in the year ahead.  Of course, this recipe would work equally well with any white fish such as flounder, tilapia, or sole.  Herbs like parsley, oregano, thyme, and basil are combined with lemon juice to bring out the fish’s natural flavor.

catfish
Courtesy of A Taste of Home

 

I’ve selected a recipe for Vegetarian Dumplings, which can be either steamed or fried.  These are made with wheat flour, vegetable oil, water, pak choi (a Chinese cabbage), green bell pepper, bean sprouts, spring onion, hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, and sesame sauce.  You will serve them with some soy sauce on the side.

dumplings
Courtesy of Ginger and Olives

 

Spring rolls are required for your celebration and this recipe for Baked Vegetable Spring Rolls is both delicious and healthy.  These are packed with crunchy veggies–carrots, zucchini, green beans, bell pepper, onion and garlic.  The wraps are phyllo pastry sheets, which can be found in your supermarket freezer section.  A tasty sauce is made from water, sugar, cider vinegar, soy sauce, pepper and corn starch.

Veggie-Spring-Rolls-Recipe1
Courtesy of Skinny Ms.

 

One other way to bring about good luck is the eating and displaying of oranges and tangerines.  It will also probably help bring about good health, since these fruits are fat free, cholesterol free and high in Vitamin C and a good source of fiber.

cara_cara_navel_oranges
Courtesy of Fruits & Veggies–More Matters

 

Enjoy and next week I’ll talk about some healthy heart tips for American Heart Month.

 

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As I write this blog, my area is bracing for the first winter storm of the season.  Truth be told, I was hoping we’d completely avoid the white stuff this year, but it looks like Mother Nature has other plans in store for our region.  Whether you spend a snow day sledding, having a snowball fight, or as I do, shoveling your driveway, one way to keep warm when coming in from the freezing cold is with some hearty food.  Soup is the obvious choice, but I’ve got a few other options that will keep you toasty and fill you up in the worst of snowstorms.

 

If you’re taking a break from clearing your sidewalk or your little ones need a rest from building snowmen, these Pear, Cranberry and Pecan Muffins go perfectly with a cup of hot cocoa.  They’re even vegan, which means you don’t need dairy of any kind.  Canned pears, dried cranberries (or raisins if you prefer), and chopped pecans (or another nut of your choice) are mixed in with flour, cinnamon, ginger, vanilla, and sugar among other ingredients.  They bake in a quick 25-30 minutes.

FNK_Vegan-Pear-Cranberry-Pecan-Muffins_s4x3.jpg.rend.sni12col.landscape
Courtesy of The Food Network

 

For dinner Tex-Mex is on the menu.  Let spices and the warmth of peppers help to add some heat to your day.  We’ll start with Spicy Veggie Bean Chili, which is hearty despite being a meatless dish.  Black beans, quinoa, zucchini, bell pepper, diced tomatoes, jalapeno, garlic, onion and vegetable broth are combined with a spice blend.  Simmer the ingredients and then top your chili with diced avocado and cilantro.

Spicy-Veggie-Bean-Chili3
Courtesy of The Glowing Fridge

 

Add to your dinner this family pleaser, Fruits & Veggies–More Matters’ Ranch Hand Nachos, which is one of their healthy kid’s recipes.  Red bliss potatoes are used as the base for these nachos in place of the usual fried tortilla chips.  Lean ground turkey breast, reduced-fat, shredded cheddar cheese, shredded iceburg lettuce, diced tomato, diced cucumber, chopped cilantro, chili powder, and salsa are combined for your topping.

ranchhandnacho_sectionPics
Courtesy Fruits & Veggies–More Matters

 

I hope these recipes help keep you warm during your next snow day and just remember …only 54 more days until spring!!

 

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One of the few things I do like about the winter season is the fact that citrus fruit is at the peak of flavor and so plentiful.  A personal favorite is the grapefruit.  Ever since I was young, I’ve enjoyed simply eating the fruit sectioned at breakfast with a bit of sprinkled sugar on top.  Grapefruit is a terrific addition to your diet as it’s fat free, sodium free, cholesterol free, and high in both Vitamins A and C.

grapefruit
Courtesy of Fruits & Veggies–More Matters

 

Did You Know …Grapefruit’s name is derived from how it grows on the tree, clustered like a bunch of grapes!

 

Grapefruit, unlike many other citrus fruits, has a tangier rather than simply sweet flavor.  This makes it perfect for incorporating into a variety of recipes.  Glazed Salmon with Spicy Grapefruit Relish is a perfect light supper.  The relish is made with ruby red grapefruit and then some spice is also added with the addition of red pepper flakes.  You can broil or grill your salmon depending on the season or your preference.

spicy grapefruit relish
Courtesy of Martha Stewart

 

Grapefruit, like most other citrus fruit, is a great addition to any salad.  Mixed Herb Grapefruit Salad keeps it simple with the ingredients, yet is packed full of flavor.  Mixed greens, sliced grapefruit, dried cranberries, sliced almonds, and crumbled goat cheese go well together.  A red wine vinaigrette is the perfect light dressing to pull this salad together.

grapefruit-salad-r
Courtesy of My San Francisco Kitchen

 

Broiled Grapefruit with Brown Sugar and Honey is a different twist on the traditional way to enjoy this delicious fruit.  I think you’ll enjoy the warmth of the fruit, along with the cinnamon and honey blend, especially during the cold weather months.

broiled-grapefruit-31
Courtesy of The Rustic Willow

 

Michael Marks, Your Produce Man, has a few how-to ways to prepare grapefruit in these step-by-step videos.  I hope this citrus fruit brightens up your winter days and I’ll be back next week with some hearty meal ideas for your next snow day.

 

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During the winter months we rely heavily on root veggies as a fresh vegetable.  One root veggie that is nutritious, delicious, and versatile is the turnip.  Turnips can be eaten both raw and cooked and come in many shapes and sizes.  They are fat free, cholesterol free, low in sodium and, surprisingly, an excellent source of Vitamin C.

turnips
Courtesy of Fruits & Veggies–More Matters

 

Turnips are popular substitutes for potatoes since they are similar in texture, yet they are lower in calories.  Turnip Gratin is a recipe that you’d typically associate with using potatoes.  Garlic, Gruyere cheese, cream, chicken broth, and herbs are added to the turnips to create a creamy, layered casserole.

turnip gratin
Courtesy of The Pioneer Woman

 

You can (and should!) roast turnips as you would any other root veggie.  Roasted Turnips with Balsamic Vinegar is a simple, yet delicious dish that combines diced turnips with a dressing made from olive oil, balsamic vinegar, dried thyme, salt, and pepper.  You’ll roast the turnips on a baking sheet for about a half hour, stirring them part way through the baking process.

roasted turnips
Courtesy of Kalyn’s Kitchen

 

Turnip Pesto Pasta with Artichoke Hearts and Kale is an unusual way to use turnips.  You’ll spiralize the turnips (see my earlier blog on the popularity of spiralizing veggies) so they resemble “noodles” and add a pesto sauce, kale leaves, artichoke hearts, and some pine nuts.  The result is a flavorful vegetarian meal.

turnip_pesto_pasta_with_artichoke_hearts_and_kale_2
Courtesy of The Roasted Root

 

Fruits & Veggies–More Matters has even more ways to enjoy this wonderful root veggie.  Mashed, added to a coleslaw or using turnip greens–you’ll love their Top Ten Ways To Enjoy Turnips.  I’ll return next week with a little sunshine for your winter days with some ideas for using grapefruits–one of the season’s most plentiful citrus fruits.

 

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