A Berry Delicious Thanksgiving!

It’s cranberry season!  The crimson berries star in plenty of fall recipes, and recently, they have been making headlines for possible health benefits.  Although cranberry juice is well-known for its role in urologic health, researchers have found additional roles for juice and other cranberry products as an antioxidant and natural antimicrobial, thanks to the 0plant compounds, proanthocyanidins, they contain.  Limited research has suggested possible roles in cardiometabolic health, as well.  (Click the links to read some of the original research articles.)  Of course, jellied variations and sauces contain extra sugar and are still best enjoyed as occasional treats.

If extra cranberries do linger in the freezer post-Thanksgiving, Taste of Home’s Apple Cranberry Bread is a delicious and festive way to put them to good use.   It freezes well and bursts with flavor while keeping fat and calories in check.  For those with food allergies, it is naturally dairy free, and the nuts can be omitted.  It is also easy to make egg-free by replacing the eggs with 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar and enough water to equal one half cup.

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Step It Up!

The latest Dietary Guidelines continue to encourage everyone to keep moving for good health, and earlier this week, FitBit, The American College of Sports Medicine and The Surgeon General teamed up to begin their two-week, Step-It-Up challenge.  They’ve asked everyone to take as many steps as possible, and just four days in, their teams have logged more than 7 billion!  There’s still time to join the fun (and a FitBit is not required, though it can be used).  Get all the details at www.stepitupusa.org.

 

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Great Grains!

Happy Whole Grains Month!  Looking for ways to celebrate?  The Whole Grains Council has a month’s worth of fun ideas, including contests, recipes to try, supermarket tours and curriculum guides for teachers.  Visit their website to join the fun.

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Shop Smart for Back-to-School Snacks!

1-Be cart-smart!  Fill your shopping basket so that it mirrors a healthy meal plan, meaning about half fruits and vegetables, one quarter whole grains and one quarter lean protein.  Make some of the choices calcium-rich.

2-Save time with and avoid impulse purchases with a list; organize items on your list to correspond with the order you will travel the market for a faster trip.

3-Read food labels and packaging claims to ensure a healthy purchase.

4-Bend and stretch for a good deal!  Bargains or often on lower or higher shelves rather than at eye-level.

5-Use the freezer to avoid wasting fresh produce.

6-Shop the edges of the store for fresh foods but don’t miss healthy foods in the center aisles.

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Firecracker Cupcakes

Firecracker Cupcakes

Happy Independence Day!

I’ve long wanted to try these fun cupcakes from Taste of Home, and today, I made a mini- version.  These would be a sweet finish to a July 4th cookout, and their size makes them kid- and waistline-friendly!

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Fluttering Butterfly Fruit Salad

Flutter from spring into summer with a fruit platter that is sure to please!

 

Ingredients

4 cups cubed cantaloupe

2 cup cubed honey dew

2 cups cubed pineapple

1 small kiwi cut into rings

1 ½ cups red seedless grapes

4 large strawberries, sliced lengthwise

½ cup blueberries

2 jumbo marshmallows

2 mini chocolate chips

1 red Twizzler

On a large platter, arrange cantaloupe and pineapple into 4 piles, two at the top and two at the bottom, to resemble butterfly wings.  Arrange honey dew, grapes and kiwi in the center of the wings for the body.  Use watermelon, blueberries and strawberries to outline the wings.  Place the two marshmallows at the top of the plate, and press the chips into their centers for eyes.  Peel off small pieces of the Twizzler, and shape into antenna and a smile.  Press these onto the plate to complete the butterfly’s face.

Tip:  I covered the platter tightly with plastic wrap first.  This kept the fruit juice from staining the platter and made clean-up easy.  Using pre-cut fruit speeds prep time.

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Reducing Food Waste for Earth Week

Celebrate Earth Week this year by cutting back on trash!  Recently, the United States Department of Agriculture developed a new infographic, “Let’s Talk Trash,” to educate consumers about reducing food waste.  Their website has great tips on topics such as food product dating and freezing leftovers.

The Food and Drug Administration’s fridge and freezer chart is another handy tool for quickly determining how long food items will stay fresh.  And, foodsafety.gov provides guidelines about how long food will stay safe following a power outage.

Happy Earth Day!

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