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Healthy Living: Blackberries


BlackberriesBlackberry season makes me happy.

I love these luscious fruits, juicy and bursting with flavor.

Besides being delicious, they’re really good for you, too. In addition, you can buy all you can carry this summer and freeze them for use in the winter. Just make sure they’re washed and COMPLETELY dried, then pop them into a freezer bag and break out again to beat the winter blues in January.

The health benefits of blackberries are myriad, according to the Huffington Post:

“Much like spinach, raisins, apples, plums and grapes, blackberries are rich in bioflavonoids and vitamin C, but other nutritional benefits include a very low sodium count and having only 62 calories to a cup.

Their dark blue color shows that blackberries have one of the highest antioxidant levels of all fruits. Antioxidants lower the risk of cancers if the berries are eaten in their natural state.

Eating blackberries is said to promote the healthy tightening of tissue, which is a great non-surgical procedure to make skin look younger.

The high tannin content of blackberries provides a number of benefits to reduce intestinal inflammation, alleviate hemorrhoids and soothe the effects of diarrhea.

The leaves of blackberries, which are consumable, have been used to treat mild inflammation of the gums and sometimes even sore throats.

The astringent tannins are effective in oral hygiene when used as a gargle or mouthwash.”

So, run, don’t walk, out to get some blackberries now!



Family Matters: Summertime Grilling


Summertime GrillingNothing says summer like backyard grilling with family and a big pitcher of sweet iced tea. As an ambassador for families eating together as much as possible, summer is the perfect time to take dinner outdoors to enjoy the warmer weather and sunshine. From meats and vegetables to breads and desserts, I love putting my whole meal on the grill. It’s fun to try different foods and recipes on the grill, and totally get out of the kitchen and take it all outside.

With so many summer vegetables to choose from like squash, zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes and potatoes, it’s hard to decide which ones to grill. That’s why I like grilling them all! Below is the perfect marinade for grilling your summer vegetables.

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box when it comes to the grill. You can make wonderful memories with your family by being outdoors and by creating something new and exciting on the grill!

Grilled Vegetable Marinade
Serves 10

Ingredients:
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 Tbs canola oil
1 Tbs basil
2 Tbs oregano
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp kosher salt

Directions:
Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl. Place vegetables and marinade in a food-safe plastic bag inside another container. Marinate 1 to 2 hours.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 89, Fat: 0 g (0 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 1 mg, Carbohydrates: 23 g, Fiber: 2 g, Protein: 1 g

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Family Matters: Zesty Strawberries


Zesty Strawberries  Looking for a simple, refreshing and absolutely delicious dessert for summer? This recipe is great for family gatherings, weddings, showers, church events…or just a special treat for your family. Fresh strawberries are in season, and though they are sweet by themselves, why not add a little zest to make them even more of a treat. This recipe is one that I recently enjoyed at an event and then decided to make for Mother’s Day, and they were a hit with the family and friends.

Summer is a great time to plan family gatherings or picnics for the important people in your life. Try this simple and easy recipe, and add some “zest” to your family gathering that they will not soon forget. Count your blessings daily and give thanks for the time you share with your family!

Key Lime-Filled Strawberries 

Ingredients:
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese
1 Tbs lime juice
1 lb fresh strawberries
zest of 1 lime (optional)

Directions:
In a mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, lime juice and lime zest. Place the creamed mixture in the refrigerator to chill. Carefully cut the strawberry tips and stems from the strawberries (be careful to not cut into the edges). Take a small spoon or metal 1/2 teaspoon measuring spoon and hollow out the inside of the strawberries. Pipe or spoon the creamed filling into the strawberries and then refrigerate until ready to serve. These can be placed in the freezer for a few minutes to set the filling in case they tip over in the container. Additional lime juice may be added (up to 2 teaspoons) if more lime flavor is preferred.

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Mi Blog Hispano: Las Maravillas del Aguacate


Las Maravillas del AguacateToda la vida me ha encantado comer aguacate, sólo, o en ensaladas, como sea, siempre he sido una gran fanática  de este sabroso fruto. Cuando estaba pequeña recuerdo que mi mamá decía que el aguacate era bueno para todo, ella me lo colocaba  en el cabello, cuando este  estaba bastante maduro y ya no se podía  comer, para que me hidratara el pelo y le diera brillo.

Ahora resulta que he aprendido que el aguacate tiene innumerables beneficios como decía mi mamá y hasta es considerado el alimento más completo, por todo lo positivo que aporta para la salud, para la belleza y hasta propiedades afrodisiacas se le han atribuido al aguacate.

Es interesantísimo saber que el aguacate se originó en Puebla, México y que además este árbol ha sido cultivado desde tiempos remotos antes de Cristo, en Centro y Sur América. En los Estados Unidos, se comenzó a cultivar en el siglo 19, especialmente en el Estado de California.

Los nutricionistas afirman que el aguacate contiene todo lo que una persona necesita para sobrevivir y que también ayuda a prevenir el cáncer, enfermedades cardiacas, la diabetes, controla el Alzheimer y otras enfermedades.

El aguacate, contiene los diez elementos minerales más importantes de la naturaleza: Zinc, Sodio, Selenio, Cobre, Potasio, Manganeso, Magnesio, Hierro, Fosforo y Calcio. Posee además, gran cantidad de vitamina E, que protege contra las enfermedades del corazón, protegiendo las arterias y reduciendo el colesterol. También el aguacate tiene ácido oleico, que elimina las lombrices intestinales y los radicales libres, lo que evita la aparición de ciertos tipos de cáncer como dije antes, sobre todo de pulmón.

Por otro lado, tiene un alto contenido de calorías ya que un aguacate mediano tiene alrededor de 227 por pieza, así que si se está tratando de perder peso hay que evitar comer mucho aguacate.

Mi madre, imagínense que teniendo 5 hijos, usaba muchas recetas de cosas naturales y el aguacate era uno de sus ingredientes favoritos, algunos de sus usos eran: para el cabello reseco, para eliminar la caspa, expulsar lombrices, matar piojos, combatir las arrugas, suavizar labios agrietados, regular el colesterol, reducir estrías, eliminar ulceras bucales, reducir la diarrea y mucho más. Los animo a investigar más detalles acerca de este maravilloso regalo de la naturaleza como lo es el aguacate.



Healthy Living: Sweet Potatoes


Sweet PotatoesIf you could only eat one thing again and still stay healthy, a sweet potato is a pretty good bet.

Often called nature’s perfect food, sweet potatoes have a significant amount of beta carotene and can provide almost a day’s worth of the U. S. Recommended Dietary Allowance of vitamin A.

They are a complex carbohydrate and a good source of dietary fiber. Sweet potatoes also contain vitamin B5, vitamin B6, manganese and potassium.

You probably don’t want to eat a sweet potato raw, but that’s okay because cooking them actually gives them a higher level of vitamin C.

Sweet potatoes are great baked, roasted, sautéed and pureed for soups and stews.



Dine In: Fettuccine with Goat Cheese, Bacon and Cherry Tomatoes


Fettuccine with Goat Cheese, Bacon & Cherry TomatoesSeveral years ago, we had “Pasta Thursday” every week in my house. It didn’t really matter what the dish was, but it contained some sort of pasta.

We’ve gotten away from that in the past few years, and it seems like we don’t each much pasta in the summertime at all.

Now that it’s cooler, pasta and pasta dinners have started reappearing on our menus. The boys love pasta and let’s admit, it’s fast, easy and inexpensive.

This recipe, to me, combines the best of summer flavors with heartier fall fare. While I’d normally take out as much fat as I could, make sure you use the bacon drippings as called for in the recipe. It makes so much of a difference. The original recipe didn’t call for whole-wheat fettuccine, but that’s pretty much all we eat any more. I love the nuttier flavor and the extra bite in the pasta when you use the whole-wheat kind.

This dish is also great to feed a crowd. I think it’s going to make an appearance at a porch party one Friday night soon.

Fettuccine with Goat Cheese, Bacon & Cherry Tomatoes
Serves 3-4

Ingredients:
1 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp thyme, chopped
1 tsp rosemary, chopped
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
8 strips center-cut bacon
1 Tbs olive oil
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp thyme, chopped
1 tsp rosemary, chopped
1/3 cup goat cheese, crumbled
9 oz whole-wheat fettuccine pasta
3 Tbs basil, chopped chiffonade (into thin strips)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400° F (200° C). Toss the cherry tomatoes with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon chopped thyme and 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary. Roast in preheated oven for about 10 minutes, or until tomatoes are soft and have started to collapse.

While the tomatoes are roasting, cook the bacon over medium heat in a skillet. Reserve the fat and drippings while cooking. Crumble bacon roughly with your fingers and set aside.

Without washing the skillet, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat and drippings to the skillet. Over medium-low heat, add the minced garlic cloves, and cook until fragrant and starting to brown, about a minute. Add the remaining chopped thyme and rosemary, and cook for another minute. Set aside.

Cook the fettuccine according to package directions for al dente pasta. When done, reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid and drain.

Add the cherry tomatoes, goat cheese and bacon to the garlic herb mixture in the skillet over medium-low heat. Stir together and cook for about a minute. Then, add the cooked pasta and toss, cooking for another minute. Add reserved pasta water if the sauce needs more liquid, but this shouldn’t be a saucy pasta.

Serve with plenty of chopped basil on top.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 431, Calories from Fat: 205, Fat: 23 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (10 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 52 mg, Sodium: 515 mg, Potassium: 944 mg, Carbohydrates: 34 g, Fiber: 8 g, Sugar: 11 g, Protein: 26 g.

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Healthy Living: Brussels Sprouts


Brussels SproutsMy kids recently discovered a new favorite vegetable: Brussels sprouts.

It’s more accurate to say that I recently INTRODUCED them to Brussels sprouts. I was lazy and took it for granted that they’d hate them because all kids hate them, right?

Nope.

My kids LOVE them now, as do several others I know. Brussels sprouts are a cultivar of German cabbage. One cup contains only 38 calories but has 342 grams of potassium, 3.3 grams of protein, dietary fiber and 3 grams of protein, plus 124 percent of the USDA for vitamin C.That’s a lot!

In addition, Brussels sprouts help you out with some cholesterol-lowering benefits, if you use a steaming method when cooking them. The fiber-related components in Brussels sprouts do a better job of binding together with bile acids in your digestive tract when they’ve been steamed.

So, steam them, roast them, grill them, bake them or enjoy them any way you like: they’re good for you!



Healthy Living: Chili Lime Burgers


Chili Lime BurgerWho doesn’t love a good burger? I love to nosh on a delicious burger, but I can’t always afford the calories and fat.

Chicken burgers are a great alternative to beef, but sometimes they get dried out. With this recipe, the addition of bell pepper and garlic helps keep the chicken moist.

The guacamole on top adds flavor and moisture as well. I add jalapeño to mine, but you can skip that if you don’t like the extra spice.

Chili Lime Burgers

Ingredients:
1 lb ground chicken
2 green onions, chopped
1 jalapeño, diced (optional)
1/4 cup red bell pepper, chopped
2 Tbs cilantro, chopped
2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 lime, cut in half
4 slices pepper jack cheese
2 large pita bread slices, cut in half
For the guacamole:
1 avocado
garlic powder
salt and pepper

Directions:
Combine chicken, green onions, bell pepper, cilantro, garlic, jalapeño, salt, red pepper flakes and juice of half a lime in a large bowl. Mix until thoroughly combined, then form into 4 patties and spray each side generously with nonstick spray.

Heat a large grill pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Grill burgers for 3-4 minutes per side, or until cooked all the way through. Place a slice of cheese on top of each burger, then cover with a large pot lid. Allow to melt for about a minute. Remove burgers to a plate, tent with foil and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Place each burger in a pita half, then top with guacamole.

For the guacamole, mash all ingredients together with a potato masher or fork.

Serves 4

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 523, Calories from Fat: 249, Fat: 28 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (10 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 131 mg, Sodium: 724 mg, Potassium: 623 mg, Carbohydrates: 25 g, Fiber: 5 g, Sugar: 2 g, Protein: 44 g.

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Healthy Living: Rainbow Salad


Rainbow SaladThis salad had me at “rainbow.”

I was the kid with the Rainbow Brite (did I just date myself?) backpack, the rainbow striped socks and the rainbow throw pillow. In art class, I wanted to draw rainbows and was a stickler for the (former) ROY G. BIV mnemonic device.

The rainbow is also good for eating, as Asian influence suggests. Different colored natural foods impart different vitamins, nutrients and minerals to our diets.

This salad is as beautiful as it is healthy, and I’m still obsessed with the dressing.

Rainbow Salad

Ingredients:
For the salad:
2 tsp olive oil
8 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp chili powder
2 cups grapes, halved
1 cup fresh blueberries
3 cups curly lettuce, chopped
1/2 cup feta cheese
1/2 cup almonds, chopped or crushed
For the dressing:
3 Tbs almond butter
1 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs freshly squeezed orange juice
3 Tbs water
1 Tbs stone ground mustard
1/2 Tbs raw honey
1/4 tsp salt, more to taste
1/2 tsp garlic

Directions:
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the chicken with the salt, pepper and chili powder. Sauté in the oil for a few minutes, flipping the chicken now and then to cook through and get a nice golden color on both sides. When the chicken is cooked, remove from heat and set aside.

Cut and prep all the vegetables and fruits. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, cut into bite-sized pieces. Place the salad ingredients in a large bowl. You can either arrange the bowl by ingredient, like pictured, or toss everything together. Refrigerate to chill.

For the dressing, puree all the dressing ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Taste and adjust to your preferences. Pour dressing over salad and serve.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 349, Calories from Fat: 196, Fat: 22 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (5 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 54 mg, Sodium: 582 mg, Potassium: 634 mg, Carbohydrates: 20 g, Fiber: 4 g, Sugar: 13 g, Protein: 21 g.

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Dine In: Lemon Orzo Chicken Salad


Lemon Orzo Chicken SaladFamily vacation at the beach entails 19 people in one house under one roof for a week. We love it, but let’s face it: even the closest of families can be so confined.

This year at the beach, it’s rained almost every day, further compounding our “togetherness.” We’ve played games, taken a trip to the local aquarium, had a dance off, played hide-and-seek with the kids (which ended badly with a downed shower curtain rod), watched movies and made T-shirts. There have been funny moments, and there have been a few tense moments.

However, there is always harmony during mealtime. Prep time constitutes happy hour. Then, we feed the kids. After the kids are full, they are dispatched to the “kids’ room” for Legos, pool or Toss Across while the adults eat.

The adults have taken to eating on the porch if the weather is conducive. This summer salad has the perfect, beachy flavors. Salty air, optional.

Lemon Orzo Chicken Salad

Ingredients:
1/4 cup orzo, uncooked
3 cups grilled chicken breast, chopped
1 1/2 cups baby spinach
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup pre-chopped red onion
2 Tbs fresh basil, chopped
1 tsp fresh oregano, chopped
2 Tbs red wine vinegar
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
6 Tbs (1 1/2 oz) goat cheese, crumbled

Directions:
Cook orzo according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain well.

Combine orzo, chicken and the next 6 ingredients (through oregano) in a large bowl; toss well.

Combine vinegar, oil, salt and black pepper in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle vinegar mixture over pasta mixture; toss well to coat. Sprinkle with cheese.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 274, Calories from Fat: 71, Fat: 8 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (1 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 96 mg, Sodium: 215 mg, Potassium: 488 mg, Carbohydrates: 12 g, Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 2 g, Protein: 38 g.

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