November is the time I usually start seeing an abundance of fresh cranberries showing up in the fresh fruit and veggie section of my local supermarket. This is a wonderful thing because fresh cranberries are hard to come by and their in-season time frame is rather short. While many folks associate cranberries with cranberry juice (yes, I enjoy it too!) or the gelatinous cranberry sauce that comes in a can (this I’m not a fan of), there are so many delicious things you can do with the fresh variety.
First, let’s start with how to select the perfect fresh cranberry. The berries should be firm, not shriveled with no signs of decay, but the best and funnest way is the “bounce test!” Michael Marks, Your Produce Man, has a simple way to find out whether or not a cranberry is fresh or not–just “bounce” it. Cranberries that bounce 6 inches or more are the ones you keep.
I know that the first recipe that comes to mind when thinking of cranberries is cranberry sauce, but when dealing with fresh cranberries you can do some other really interesting things. Adding them to baked goods is really simple. Basically any bread or muffin recipe you can adapt to adding fresh cranberries. They go particularly well with spice flavors like pumpkin or apple. Try a different twist to your bread stuffing recipes by adding some fresh cranberries. Since they aren’t too sweet they aren’t overpowering and will give your stuffing a sweet and tart flavor. Fruits & Veggies–More Matters has a great dessert idea that incorporates two fall flavors with Pear and Cranberry Crisp. This would be a hit right out of the oven with some low-fat vanilla frozen yogurt.
Since fresh cranberries are only available for a short time, I also enjoy them in their dried form. Using them this way I love to enjoy them in salads–usually spinach with some toasted walnuts, red onion and gorgonzola cheese. Dried cranberries are also great to throw into a trail mix with raisins and nuts like almonds and peanuts for a quick snack. One recipe I found on Pinterest that is ideal for the fall season is a wild rice salad that includes dried cranberries. It’s really simple to make and it’s colorful so it looks great on your table if you’re having a dinner party. This side dish goes really well with a roast chicken or pork. Enjoy!
Wild Rice Cranberry Pecan Salad
1 cup brown wild rice mix
2 1/3 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon butter
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Use the amount of water for the rice according to the instructions on the rice package. Bring rice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, butter and water to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 50 minutes. Remove from stove and let sit, covered for 10 minutes. Uncover, fluff up with a fork and let cool to almost room temperature. In a medium serving bowl, mix the rice, cranberries, pecans and green onions together. In a seperate jar, mix the lemon juice, olive oil, orange peel, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. Just before serving, mix dressing in with the rice mixture. Serve warm, chilled or room temperature.
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Ever flipped through the latest issue of any fashion magazine and wonder how those models look so perfect? Well, wonder no more. I always knew there was some touch up work that was done to images before they published those fashion photos. You know, editing out any obvious blemishes, etc., but an article making the rounds via social media and network television last week, took using Photoshop to edit models’ images to a whole, new level.
The story, “See Why We Have An Absolutely Ridiculous Standard of Beauty in Just 37 Seconds,” shows a lovely young woman transformed via digital manipulation into what results to nothing more than a living doll. (To view the full transformation, you must click the video link in the story.) Among the changes made to the woman–her skin color is lightened, her legs are lengthened and thinned, and her facial features are manipulated such as widening her eyes.
Here’s why I take issue with this marketing technique–it’s not real. It sends a terrible message to women everywhere. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I can’t “Photoshop” out my own imperfections before I head out the door. No, instead I take care of my body–I focus on a well-balanced diet to keep my weight in-check and I exercise regularly. And, guess what, even with that hard work I still have an extra lump or bump here or there. That’s REAL, that’s natural. I’m not a robot or a doll–I’m a real woman who happens to be 46-years-old. We have to start embracing our bodies and stop trying to achieve this unrealistic version of what a magazine puts out there that’s pure manipulation. Even more importantly, let’s start teaching our daughters that they shouldn’t fit into some mold of what a fashion magazine has told us beautiful is supposed to look like.
For anyone out there who is trying to reach or maintain a healthy weight, please don’t be deterred by these silly images. Don’t think because no matter how hard you try you can’t get yourself to look like your favorite fashion model, you’ve failed in some way. The reality is that most of those models don’t really look like that either! Focus on how good you feel living a healthy lifestyle and all the good you’re doing for your body. And, really see yourself for how great you look. Here are some tips for staying on a healthy nutrition plan and ways to make exercise a regular part of your daily routine.
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It’s hard to believe in just three short weeks we’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving–everyone’s favorite “food” holiday. One traditional recipe associated with Thanksgiving is pumpkin pie and it’s easy to see why–it’s the perfect dessert for autumn. The warm shade of orange goes perfectly with a harvest table and the spices of nutmeg, ginger and cloves are ideal flavors for this time of year. Yet, it’s easy to forget that pumpkin is a versatile veggie (yes, it is a vegetable!) that can be enjoyed in many recipes while it’s in season.
Santa Fe Pumpkin Soup
The first thing to know is that pumpkins are quite nutritious, they’re a good source of vitamin C and an excellent source of vitamin A. Like many winter squash, when stored in a cool dry place they will keep for up to two months. While it’s natural to think of using pumpkins in sweet dishes, they are terrific additions in savory dishes like Hearty Santa Fe Pumpkin Soup. Along with pumpkin, this recipe includes ingredients like black beans, garlic, cilantro, green chiles and cumin to really kick up the flavor. If you’re feeling adventurous, definitely try this tasty recipe for Pumpkin Ravioli with Sage Brown Butter Sauce. While it will take you some extra time to make your own pasta, the end result will be worth it!
Pumpkin is a great way to start your day, like with this recipe for Pumpkin Oatmeal. I personally love oatmeal during the cold weather months and adding canned pumpkin to it, along with some chopped nuts is wonderful. It makes for a delicious breakfast and keeps me feeling full until lunch! A great breakfast idea your kids will love are Best Ever Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes. Terrific for a Sunday morning, these tasty flapjacks contain whole wheat flour, pumpkin puree and spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Top them with some sliced bananas and a drizzle of maple syrup.
If your tastes do run toward the dessert spectrum, there are options other than pie. Pumpkin Bars make a great dessert or lunchbox snack and this recipe uses reduced fat ingredients, which makes them 140 calories per serving. Finally, for those special occasions, try this recipe for Apple Pumpkin Bread Pudding. It’s a little more decadent than I usually serve, but every now and then I give myself a pass if it’s worth it. I think after you try this you’ll agree with me that this dessert falls into that category.
These suggestions are just a few pumpkin flavor ideas. I encourage you to search for more and take advantage of the many more options available while it’s at its peak of flavor.
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