Food

Apple Cider Mimosas

A Look Back – Our Favorite Holiday Recipes

 

Hey Everyone! I’ve been meaning to post a few of our favorite recipes from the holiday season.  I realize that January is almost over already (where does the time go?!) and I’m just now getting these out to you but – better late than never!  Besides, there is always another opportunity to try a new recipe – whether it’s for a party, a special holiday, a date night, or just because you are feeling inspired to cook tonight!  So I hope that you try out one or more of these healthy and delicious recipes and let us know how they turn out!

 

First up are two brunch recipes.  We had these apple cider mimosas twice over the holidays when family was crammed into our warm kitchen together and we wanted to toast the fact that we were all together in one place.  They are super easy with only a few ingredients and can easily be made alcohol-free for the kiddos in your life. 

 

Apple Cider Mimosas
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Ingredients
  1. 1 tablespoon cane sugar
  2. 1 teaspoon apple pie spice (see below to make your own)
  3. 1 champagne bottle, chilled (use sparkling juice or water to make this drink alcohol-free)
  4. 2 cups local apple cider, chilled
Instructions
  1. Combine sugar and spices in a small, shallow dish and mix together with a fork or whisk. (Make sure the dish is bigger in diameter than the rim of your glasses.) Set aside.
  2. Pour a small amount of water into a second shallow dish and set next to the bowl with the sugar and spice mixture. Wet the rim of each glass by dipping just the rim first into the shallow bowl of water and then into the sugar and spice mixture. Repeat with all of the glasses.
  3. Into each glass, pour the champagne until all the bubbles have settled and the glass is half full. Top off each glass with apple cider. Cheers and enjoy!
Homemade apple pie spice
  1. 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  2. 1/2 tablespoon ground allspice
  3. 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  4. 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  5. 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  6. 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  7. Combine and store in an airtight container with your spices in a cool, dark space.
Life From Scratch http://lifefromscratch.com/

 

One of my favorite local breakfast spots is Karlton Café in Quakertown, PA.  The menu changes seasonally at this restaurant and their fall menu included a Three-Potato Skillet Hash, which I loved!  After having it for the second time in a row, I came home and searched online for similar recipes to try on my own.  I came across this one from one of my favorite food blogs and couldn’t wait to try it out.  We made this skillet hash for a brunch during our family gift exchange. 

 

Sweet Potato Skillet Hash
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Ingredients
  1. 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  2. 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  3. 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  4. ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (more if you like it spicy!)
  5. 2 large red onions, cut in half and then thinly sliced
  6. ½ teaspoon sea salt
  7. 6 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  8. 1 cup water (or vegetable broth)
  9. ½ cup cilantro, chopped
  10. Optional toppings: chopped avocado tossed with lime juice, hot sauce, fried eggs
Instructions
  1. In a large cast-iron skillet, melt the oil over medium heat. Add the cumin, coriander and red pepper and cook until fragrant, only about 1 minute. Add the onions and salt and stir to coat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until they have caramelized, about 20-30 minutes.
  2. Add the sweet potatoes and toss to mix with the onions and spices. Add water or broth and cover skillet with a lid. Let cook undisturbed for 15 minutes to allow sweet potatoes to steam. (You may still want to peek through the lid periodically to make sure that the liquid has not dried up and the bottom is not burning. If so, add more liquid and replace lid for remainder of cooking time.) At the end of 15 minutes, if the potatoes are not cooked through, put the lid back on and cook for another 5 minutes or so, adding more liquid if necessary. If there is still liquid in the pan remaining, simply remove the lid and allow it to cook off.
  3. Just before eating, sprinkle with cilantro and serve with the toppings of your choice. Enjoy!
Notes
  1. Makes: 8 servings
  2. (barely adapted from mynewroots.org)
Life From Scratch http://lifefromscratch.com/

 

Now on to the side dishes.  Both of these recipes contain kale, which might be my all-time favorite fall veggie.  I’m sure you’re tired of hearing me talk about it by now!  We served this potato dish as a side dish at our family Thanksgiving gathering and everyone agreed that it won the award for tastiest new recipe of the holiday!  The flavors may seem bold and differing greatly from your traditional mashed potato recipe but please give it a try and I think you will be pleasantly surprised!

 

Kale and Potato Mash
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Ingredients
  1. 6 large potatoes, peeled and diced
  2. 2 tablespoons avocado or olive oil
  3. 2 red onions, cut in half and then sliced
  4. 6 cups kale, thick stems removed and leaves chopped
  5. ½ cup milk
  6. 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  7. salt and pepper, to taste
  8. 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  9. ½ cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped
Instructions
  1. In a large pot of water, boil the potatoes for 15 minutes, until fork tender.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté the red onion for 5 minutes, until softened. Add the kale and cook while tossing until wilted, about 5 minutes. (You may need to add the kale in batches and wait for each handful to cook down a bit before adding more.)
  3. Drain the potatoes and return to the pot. Add the milk and mustard. Mash the potatoes and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in the kale and onion mixture. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with feta and hazelnuts. Enjoy!
Notes
  1. Makes: 6 servings
Life From Scratch http://lifefromscratch.com/

 

We served the following dish alongside the ham at Christmas dinner, as well as riced cauliflower, corn casserole, cranberry-apple chutney, and homemade pumpkin pie.  Yum!

 

Quinoa and Kale-Stuffed Acorn Squash
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Ingredients
  1. 4 acorn squash, cut in half crosswise and seeds discarded or saved for later
  2. ground cinnamon, salt and pepper, to taste
  3. 1 cup quinoa
  4. 2 tablespoon avocado or olive oil
  5. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  6. 1 bunch kale, thick stems removed and leaves chopped
  7. 1 cup pecans (toasted, if desired), chopped
  8. 1 cup dried cranberries
  9. 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Place squash halves on a baking sheet and drizzle with a little bit of oil and sprinkle cinnamon, salt and pepper over each one. Rub in the oil and spices. Turn squash cut side down and bake for 30-45 minutes, until fork tender but not cooked so long that they start to lose their shape.
  3. Meanwhile, place quinoa and 2 cups of water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook until all water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Let stand for another 5-10 minutes before removing lid and fluffing with a fork.
  4. While quinoa cooks, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté garlic and kale, tossing often, until garlic is aromatic and kale is wilted, about 5 minutes. (You may need to add the kale in batches and wait for each handful to cook down a bit before adding more.)
  5. Transfer quinoa to a large bowl and toss with kale mixture, pecans, cranberries, and lemon juice.
  6. Spoon quinoa mixture into each squash half and serve. Enjoy!
Notes
  1. Makes: 8 servings
Life From Scratch http://lifefromscratch.com/
 

 

 

Eat Healthy! Choose Color!

5 Ways to Eat Healthier in 2018

I’ve talked before in my blog posts about the health journey that I have been on for at least the past 10 years – although I can remember being obsessed with eliminating fat or counting calories back in college and that was a few more than 10 years ago!  But, as I talk about here, I really started reading up on the specific health benefits of different foods about 10 or 11 years ago when I worked as a personal chef and was also trying to get pregnant and start a family.  It’s funny how the thought of growing a whole other human being inside your body will make you wake up and pay attention to what we put in (and on) our bodies and how that might affect the functioning of our bodies and what we pass on to our children. 

 

Now that we have three beautiful, healthy boys that are growing every day – and eating more food than I thought possible for such a tiny person – I am still hyper aware of what sort of food I am putting on our family table.  I will admit that it’s difficult to try and keep up with what is considered “healthy” these days and also frustrating to try and sift through all of the studies and articles to tease out what’s real and what is just a manufactured outcome based on the company or consortium that is funding the research.

 

My personal approach is to constantly read and learn as much as I can from various sources and then look for common themes – as long as those themes don’t feel sensationalized or more like a fad than a health recommendation.  Still, that’s easier said than done.  Take agave nectar for example.  When the boys were little and I was searching for a healthy birthday cake option, I remember learning about this new thing called agave that was a sugar substitute made from a plant that was proven to keep your blood sugar from spiking after you ate it.  It was even recommended to diabetics!  I thought this sounded great for my little wee ones because I felt safe giving them a birthday cake baked with agave in place of sugar and knowing that they wouldn’t get a big sugar spike and go crazy afterwards!  So, for years, I baked them birthday cakes made with raw agave nectar and felt good about it.   I, of course, used the “raw” form of the product thinking that raw is always better.  Well, it turns out that even the “raw” agave nectar is highly processed and not much better than eating high fructose corn syrup.  What?!

 

Unfortunately, I can’t go back and bake a different birthday cake for all of those past birthdays but I can choose to keep learning and growing and getting a little bit healthier with each little change that I make.  I’m not going to give up!

 

For 2018, I am working on looking at any meal or snack that I am eating or serving and trying to think of a way to make it even healthier.  (Whatever “healthy” means at that moment in time!) 

 

Here are 5 examples of how you can eat healthier this year:

 

1.  Whenever possible, serve it over a bed of salad greens. When you think about it, there’s not much that can’t be turned into a salad.  Breakfast foods are a bit difficult, I will admit.  But most snacks, lunches, or dinners could stand to have some greens added either under the other food or, at the very least, as a side salad with a homemade vinaigrette.  Most of my lunches consist of taking leftovers from dinner the night before and putting it on top of some sort of greens.  On pizza night, I love to toss some arugula with homemade balsamic vinaigrette and put the greens on top of the cooked pizza.  It may sound strange but it’s really yummy!

 

2. Flavor with herbs and spices. Any time you can add some fresh or dried herbs or spices to your meal, you will be greatly increasing the antioxidant power of the food.  Each individual herb and spice also comes with its own unique health benefits – from the antibacterial and antiviral properties of cinnamon to the anti-nausea effects of peppermint and ginger.  So, you can add extra flavor to your meal at the same time that you are making it healthier!

 

3. Replace refined sugars and reduce the amount of sweetener used in any recipe. As I’ve mentioned before, you can replace 100% of sugar in a recipe with natural sweeteners, such as honey or maple syrup.  (Just steer clear of the agave!)  Because these natural sweeteners are so concentrated, you can also reduce the amount of sweetener in a recipe by ¼ to ½ of the amount called for and still get the same sweet taste!

 

4. Choose color! The nutritional content of a food is tied directly to the intensity of its color.  Any time you have the choice between something with color and something without, always choose the more colorful option!  For example:

  • Choose brown rice over white rice
  • Choose wheat flour over white flour
  • Choose red onions over white onions
  • Choose sweet potatoes (or purple potatoes!) over white potatoes

 

5. My personal favorite – pick one thing that you currently buy in processed form and learn how to make it yourself – from scratch. 🙂  You could try making homemade granola or vanilla extract.  Or maybe something more exotic like kimchi or kombucha.  Whatever it is, try to start with all whole food ingredients and make your version as healthy as possible!