Easy peanut butter cookies

Will makes peanut butter cookies - just 3 ingredients

Recipes from labels

Vinny and I had the greatest time at the cottage this summer. One of the things we did was experiment with recipes on the labels of foods we brought with us.

“Let’s try peanut butter cookies,” said Will, studying the label on the jar of one of his favorite foods. “There’s only three ingredients. And we have them all!” More

Holiday Open House, Sun Nov 27, 1-4pm

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‘Tis the season, whether we like it or not. I personally love it! So much fun getting together with old friends, sharing some sparkly, sampling baking made at special times of the year, remembering happy days from years past… and meeting new neighbors! I even love the whole shopping thing, searching out little baubles to put under the tree and surprising the people I love.

That’s why I happily agreed to help my daughter Kristina host an open house at her place this year to launch the holiday season. More

Watermelon cheers us up with coolers and salads

Watermelon

Watermelon is a mood food

As most of my friends fly south for the winter, I thought I’d inject a little sun into my own life with watermelon. Deep into February as we are, a food to lift our spirits seems in order.

I’ve covered some of this before, but for newer readers, are you surprised to learn that watermelon is a good source of  the mood vitamins B1 (thiamine) and B6 (pyridoxine)? I was. Turns out thiamine is important for maintaining electrolytes and transmitting nervous-system signals throughout the body. Pyridoxine works with enzymes that convert food into cellular energy.

Who needs warm weather… Let’s party!

Watermelon

Watermelon pepo

Watermelon is a berry

Another surprising fact about watermelon… its fruit is a pepo, a special kind of berry with a thick rind and fleshy center.

Watermelon pepos offer the most nutrition per calorie of any common food.

Red is the give-away. Bright colors signal a big pay-off in  lycopene, an antioxidant repeatedly studied in humans and found to protect  against a whole slew of cancers…  prostate, breast, endometrial, lung, and colorectal, for starters.

Watermelon offers lots of  beta-carotene and another antioxidant, vitamin C. Besides helping lycopene to ward off cancer, these vitamins also battle heart disease, arthritis, and asthma.

Then there is the mineral potassium, guardian of our cardiovascular system, brain, and kidneys.

Finally, watermelon provides lots of the master mineral magnesium. Magnesium  is the big boss for over 300 cellular metabolic functions. Poor soils make magnesium scarce in today’s foods. Lack of magnesium is related to irritability, tension, sleep disorders, and muscular cramping, including the heart muscle (attack!).

How to enjoy watermelon

Watermelons retain most of their nutrition even after being cut and stored in the fridge. But watermelon is best eaten at room temperature when the flavor, plus the phytonutrient capacity, is at its best.

Watermelon

Eat plain

Just quarter a large watermelon berry and slice off slabs. Eat the flesh right off the rind and spit out the seeds.

Watermelon salad

 

Watermelon salad
Serves one

  • one cup watermelon cubes
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • one cup kale, ribs removed and finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon avocado oil
  • 1 ounce goat cheese
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  1. Chop the flesh into bite-sized chunks.
  2. Drizzle them with lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, or vodka. Let them soak it up for a few minutes.
  3. Use them to top a plateful of greens, kale in my photo, which I drizzled with  avocado oil and massaged well.
  4. Top with crumbled feta cheese or, my favorite, goat cheese.

 

Watermelon fizz cocktail

Vinny’s pink watermelon cooler
Serves four

  • 2  cups watermelon cubes, frozen
  • 4 ice cubes
  • Juice of one fresh lemon (1/4 cup)
  • Juice of one fresh lime (2 tablespoons)
  • 2-4 tablespoons of any sugar syrup you have. I used home-made red-current couli, But any fruit syrup, even grenadine (from pomegranates) or maple syrup, will do. I use an equivalent amount of stevia unless it’s a special occasion.
  • 2 pinches of salt
  • 2 pinches of black pepper
  • 3-4 ounces raspberry vodka (optional)
  • ¼ to 1/3 cup club soda, depending on whether you add alcohol or not and the size of your glass
  1. Blend the whole works except for the club soda for a few seconds.
  2. If you want to serve some of the cocktails without alcohol, leave the vodka out and add it back to the glasses of  the folks who want it.
  3. Fill each glass about halfway with the watermelon fizz. Add 1 ounce alcohol to each glass if you didn’t include it in the mix. Top up with club soda. Adjust flavor with more lemon juice if needed.
  4. Spoon some of the pink foam into each glass and top with a raspberry or a mint leaf to garnish.
Watermelon

Watermelon

When the winter blahs get you down, break out some watermelon and smile :).

 

 

 

Whipped goat cream, a tart cheese treat

Whipped goat cheese

Whipped goat cream

Once upon a time I came across a recipe that called for whipped goat cheese. So I took my basket and headed to the grocery store, where I eventually found a small tub of the stuff at three times the cost of regular, ordinary, every-day goat cheese.

When I finally had a minute to spare I sat down and examined the label. The ingredients were goat cheese and water… and a few chemicals. It seemed I’d bought a processed food fortified with who knows what. And I thought: why can’t I make that myself – and leave out the chemicals?

Why indeed. It’s so simple, I didn’t even need a food processor. I got great results with nothing but a spoon and a bowl.

Whipped goat cheese

Goat cheese and lemon – so easy to whip up

Whipped goat cream
Makes approx 1 1/4 cups or 20 tablespoons

  • 1 cup (150 grams) goat cheese, at room temperature (mine comes in a tube)
  • 2 tablespoons yogurt from 2% goat’s milk (I make my own… You don’t? OK, use natural Greek-style yogurt instead)
  • freshly squeezed juice and finely grated zest from half a lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
  • Stevia* to taste (0 calories) or 1 teaspoon honey
  • sea salt, to taste
  • 1-2 tablespoons hot water, or as needed to achieve desired consistency
  1. Combine goat cheese, yogurt, sweetener,  lemon juice and zest into a bowl.
  2. Cream them together with a wide spoon until smooth, adding 1-2 tablespoons of hot water, as needed, to get a light creamy consistency. Add more if you like it runnier, as for a dip perhaps.
  3. Season to taste with a little sea salt.

*This is a great recipe in which to experiment with Stevia, because it sweetens while enhancing the lemon flavor. It works better than sugar.

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Pear taquitos with whipped goat cream

How to serve goat cream

This works great in the recipe I mentioned off the top, for pear taquitos. I make it often for special occasions, and it is always a success.

Whipped goat cheese

Whipped goat cream goes well with fruit and today I enjoyed it with sliced apple.

Use it as a low-sugar icing on cupcakes or tarts. Whipped goat cream adds moistness and tang to any chocolate, lemon, or banana treat.

Thin it out a bit more and use it as a veggie dip for carrots or turnip sticks.

Whipped goat cheese

Whipped goat cream works as a spread on crackers. I like it with Triscuits (20 calories each) but if you like bagels or toast, I’m sure it would be delicious there as a spread.

Nutrition

One tablespoon of whipped goat cream has 21 calories. It has equal amounts of fat and protein, about 1.5 grams each.

Whipped goat cream is a low-carb food, only 0.3 grams (if you use stevia to sweeten).

This food is a good source of vitamin A, niacin, riboflavin and iron.

By the way, you can reduce the amount of fat per tablespoon by adding more water. This is how manufacturers make low-fat butter and mayo. Now, you can make them too and save some money. They charge more for products with less fat because of the processing cost.

 

Candied nuts love coconut palm sugar

Candied nuts with coconut sugar

Crunchy sweet nuts are great for dressing up salads, cheese platters, and desserts at Christmas and for other special occasions. Plus, they’re easy!

Kids love to make them. Make lots and keep them on hand to use whenever you want some pizzazz. More

Chutney-style cranberry sauce wows your company

cranberry sauce

An essential, whenever you roast a turkey

This post might at first glance appear a tad, well, boring. There’s no story nor any songs to sing as you cook. All there is, is one simple but tasty and traditional recipe, done up in bows and boasting less sugar and more pizzazz than you get in the canned kinds from the store. This could be a recipe staple for your family’s celebrations. More

1,2,3-Ingredient brownies with low-sugar, nutty spread

3-ingredient brownies

Low-sugar brownies have a secret ingredient

Kids, get your aprons on. We’re going to whip up some brownies that are as good for the body as they are for the soul. Including time to wash up the dishes, these treats should take no more than a half hour away from your Minecraft play time. More

Help Mr. Pancreas do his job – try low-sugar cookie-candy

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Nuts and fruit slow down the release of glucose into the blood.

Sugar’s role in our health

Sugar is Will’s favorite food group.

“Maybe you can cut back on the sugary things, once in a while,” Vinny suggests.

“Sugar is in everything!” Will proclaims. “It gives us energy!”

“That’s true,” Vinny agrees. “What I don’t like, though, is when we add sugar to our food, over and above what nature puts there. Have you heard about your pancreas?” More

Cookie-candy: Will’s first original recipe

Will's cookie candy i8s great with milk to calm those pesky sugar spikes

Will’s cookie-candy is great with milk, which calms those pesky sugar spikes.

What’s your favorite sugary thing, Vinny?” Isla asked me one day at the cottage.

“That’s a tough one, Honey,” I said, scratching my head. “I try not to cook with sugar, remember?”

“Sugar’s in everything!” Isla’s brother Will said. “It gives us ENERGY,” he proclaimed, pumping the air with his fist.

“True,” said Vinny. “Sugar is the molecule the body breaks down to make energy. What I try to avoid is adding refined sugar. Too much of it does us damage.”

But sugar is Will’s favorite food group. More

Fuhrman’s 10 worst foods

Sugar makes these treats a no-no for best health

Added refined sugar makes these treats a no-no for best health

Last time, I introduced you to Dr. Joel Fuhrman and his list of 10 best foods for battling the effects of old age. Now I’m going to show you his list at the other end – Fuhrman’s 10 worst foods… foods that can lead you to an early grave. More

This Supplement May Stop Sadness Becoming Depression

One more great reason to make probiotics a part of your daily diet. Probiotics may stop sadness from morphing into depression.

You can get it as a supplement. But you can easily add probiotics to your diet. Eat some yogurt, sauerkraut, sour dough bread, kefir, dill pickles or other naturally fermented foods during the day as a side or a snack. Or add these foods raw to a dish you’re making.

Read this great post from Our Better Health for details.

Our Better Health

How four weeks of supplementation can help stop a sad mood getting worse.

Probiotics may stop sadness turning into depression by helping people let go of the past, a new study finds.

Researchers at the Leiden Institute of Brain and Cognition found that probiotics stopped people ruminating so much.

Rumination is when people focus on bad experiences and feelings from the past.

Dr Laura Steenbergen, the study’s first author, said:

“Rumination is one of the most predictive vulnerability markers of depression.
Persistent ruminative thoughts often precede and predict episodes of depression.”

In the study 40 people were given a sachet to take with water or milk every day for four weeks.

Half of the people received sachets that contained a multispecies probiotic.

The other half received a placebo for the four weeks.

Before and afterwards people’s so-called ‘cognitive reactivity’ was measured.

‘Cognitive reactivity’ is the extent to which a sad…

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Gut wars! Arm yourself with yogurt and prosper

Grilled pineapple, sweetened greek yogurt, cinnamon & almonds

Yogurt, yogurt everywhere!

 En garde!

Trillions of bacteria live happily in our gut. The goodies among them help us digest our food and absorb its nutrients. They also help our body make vitamins, absorb minerals, and get rid of  toxins. They make our immune system strong. And best of all, they work on our brain cells to help them battle anxiety, stress, and depression. Friendly bugs in our gut make up the army that protects us from disease, including mental illness.

Good bacteria, called probiotics, come to us in fermented foods. Buttermilk, pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, sour dough bread, raw-milk cheeses and kefir all harbor the good guys. For many, though, probiotics march forth  into our gut in yogurt. More

No stove? Cook dinner with your iron!

iron out the wrinkles on your next grilled cheese

Iron out the wrinkles on your next grilled cheese

I’m not sure we should let the little dears in our lives in on this trick… But if you’re ever stuck in a hotel room with no cooking facilities and limited cash for eating out, you can get by with an iron!

I’m not kidding. It’s simple! More

A cake cup for Krista – Chocolate rules!

cake cups

The candles spluttered out in a blast of air, as 9-year-old Krista blew across her birthday cake and made a wish.

“What did you wish for?” asked Vinny. “A unicorn for the backyard shed? A chest of gold Lego?”

“No… and no,” said Krista. “I wished I was skinny!”

“What? No!” Vinny was aghast. More

Tommy Tucker’s brown bread… cheesy and barbecued

Baked cheesy bread

Little Tommy Tucker sings for his supper, What shall we give him? Brown bread and butter. How shall he cut it without a knife? How shall he marry without a wife?

Isla was entertaining us for the 17th time one morning with her latest ditty, as I took my sharp, serrated blade from the rack and a round, seedy loaf of whole-grain bread from the cupboard. She stopped and raised her shoulders, palms out.  “Hey, Vinny, why doesn’t Tommy have a knife?”

“I suspect the poor kid was on the streets,” I answered. “The poem was written… like 200 years ago. If you didn’t have a family to look after you then and you More

Popcorn magic at the Night Circus

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The night circus has a brain and heart… almost human. How eerie!

Last week I raved about a novel by Erin Morgenstern, called The Night Circus. This story asks us to consider the untold power life holds!

One way the author looks at the nature of life is by imagining the opposite.

Morgenstern  thinks of death not as an end, but a change. If you break a bottle of ink in the ocean, the ink disperses because it has lost its container. The ink is still there… just diluted, its parts no longer connected.

When one of the wizards mysteriously vanishes in The Night Circus, his daughter tells everyone he’s died. But in fact he is in this state of dilution… not exactly dead, he’s just not here in one piece.

While you’re reading The Night Circus, I propose a tasty bowlful of black-and-white popcorn to help you hold yourself together. More

Where’s Walnuts?

One walnut hiding among other tasty nuts

Can you spot the walnut hiding among all these other tasty tree nuts?

Verse 4

Walnuts, raw
Develop the jaw,
But walnuts, stewed,
Are more quietly chewed.
with a gentle nod to Ogden Nash

I’m nuts for walnuts…

I lied, when I promised I’d stop waxing poetic about nuts. I forgot about the walnut, one of nature’s treasures! Carrying on with my nutty soliloquy, I present verse 4.

Crunchy or pureed, if we’re smart, walnuts will be found hiding on our plates in everything from soup to salads! I’m so impressed with walnuts’ healthy benefits, I hardly know where to begin… perhaps with the letter A. More

Miss Macadamia takes the crown! Fats demystified

Macadamia wears the crown

Macadamia is the sweetheart of Hawaii.

Verse 3

Whose dress is made of sweetgrass?
who wears a golden lei-a?
Who’s promised to be kind and true?
Ma-ca-da-m-i-a.

The queen of nuts…

Moving along to my third post honoring the wonderful nut, I admit, Okay… maybe this poetry thing is a little beyond my capabilities. But before I finish with my nutty soliloquy begun in my past two posts, I wanted to sing the praises of Macadamia. Difficulty with rhyming and pentameters isn’t going to hold me back. Because if I’m any judge, Macadamia wins the healthy nut contest hands down.  And it’s not just because of her pretty face and fine figure. More

An ode to almonds, plus grilled pineapple

Almond blossoms

Almond tree in bloom

Almonds are so super good for you, they deserve an ode. One well-known nursery rhyme featured a nut tree that bore nothing… except silver and gold that is, which, as everyone knows, taste awful.

But those who have been reading along with Vinny know that nut trees in real life bear many wondrous things, more precious than money. More

I . love . turtles… the chocolate kind

Apple turtle

Mother Turtle, made from apples here, casts a healing spell among First Nations people.

The turtle myth…

In Native American stories, the turtle is a symbol for Mother Earth. This ancient animal commonly lives as long as 150 years. Its shell keeps her safe. And her slow even pace through life sets an example for people to keep going when the going gets tough. Turtle always makes time to enjoy each moment life has to offer.

To honor the turtle, I suggested to my friend Isla that we could make some for Christmas. “They’re so tasty!” I said. More

Watermelon cooler… It’s the berries!

Watermelon fizz cocktail

Cool off with fizzy watermelon

Click  for an up-dated version, with more photos and a new recipe.

Who would have thought the common watermelon is a berry? Botanists call its fruit a pepo, a special kind of berry with a thick rind and fleshy center.

Like other berries we love, the watermelon is packed with goodness. It has the most nutrition per calorie of any common food. Click the link for the latest info. More

Pineapple kings them all with this salsa

Pineapple Chutney

Nutrition

Pineapple wears a crown for a reason. It is royally healthy. In fact, it may be the healthiest fruit we can eat. More

Hummus is Pretty in Pink

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Awhile back, we roasted  up some tasty garbanzo beans to zap our good health with fiber and minerals. That bland little bean, which is part of the legume family… comes into its own, though, in the near Eastern dish known as hummus.

Let me introduce you to the Cinderella of the hummus crowd, a beet and garbanzo duo that knocks your slippers off! More

Garbanzos, Gangnam style!

It's not as fishy as it seems.

There’s nothing fishy about garbanzos!

Fad food

Hey…Hey… Foxy Lady.  You gotta try this healthy recipe! Garbanzo beans, AKA chick peas, are the talk of Pinterest right now… hot hot… hot hot hot. Folks are roasting them whole by the bushel and popping them down as a handy snack. More

Pita Pan Bread from Whole-Grain Wheat

She may not be Tinkerbell... but she does have wings!

Our little friend here may not be Tinkerbell… but she does have wings!

Processed white flour

If flour lived in Never-Never Land, enriched white wheat flour would play the part of  Captain Hook. Arrrr… it’s bad to the core. In fact, it’s bad because it has no core.

After milling, only the endosperm remains. More

Loverly coconut oil and some kale chips

Click on the coconut to hear Grampa’s song

My Great-Great-Ever-So-Great Grampa used to sing about coconuts at the top of his lungs. But he wasn’t much into eating them. Although he loved fine dining, his choices rarely included stuff that was good for him. Broccoli? Yuck! Brown bread? No way! Bring on the butter and the whipped cream! More

Apples and a Misty-Moisty Cake

Dan and Christine's wedding - apples

An apple a day keeps the doctor away

This little rhyme is one of the first things kids learn about healthy eating. One of baby’s first solid foods is apple sauce. And as kids grow, they often choose apples as a favorite snack. But are apples really so good for us? More

Stevia sweetens sand-dollar cookies

Make us some sand dollars, please Vinny?

“If I owned this cottage, I would never go home,” Will proclaims. We were packing up after three weeks at a glorious lake house, and it was hard to say goodbye.

A favorite activity there was playing on the beach. Will got Bank Street and Isla hung out on Alta Vista, one rock over, building shark pools, irrigation systems, and frog forts. Builders had to keep one eye open in case wily Billy, the water snake, popped in for a visit… but for the most part we were left alone.

We did work up an appetite though. “Have you got any cookies for us today, Vinny?” Isla asks. More

Raison d’etre

A whole bunch of raisins!

Once upon a time there was a bunch of grapes. They spent way too long in the sun and ended up as raisins. Did you know? More

Trail mix for cowboys and cowgirls – but without the acorns

Ke-mo-sah-bee! “Trusted friend”

The power of nuts

In a recent blog we talked about the goodness of hazelnuts. We even used hazelnuts to make some healthier homemade Nutella!

Acorns are nuts, too. But are they a food? Sure! Hazelnut and Acorn are friends. More

Bertie Bott Pops some Corn

Every-flavored popcorn

Rain pounds against our skylight. We can hardly hear the movie above the noise, as Harry Potter and his friend Ron swap their Bertie Bott Every Flavor Beans. Toast, sardine, grass, and dirty-socks are all up for grabs. More

Mares eat oats and Does eat oats

Banana oat cones are healthier than ice-cream. They are also ridiculously tasty!

Why do Mares and Does eat oats?” asks Will. “Oats look like dry little bits of paper. Ugh. Does Bambi’s mom know something we don’t?” More

Hazel tames the giant Nutella: Easy home-made spread

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Our elf Hazel is deeply wise.
Love her and she’ll quench your thirst for knowledge.
Then, she’ll bless you with a silver tongue,
for teaching others what you’ve learned.

So it’s said. But is there any truth behind the power of Elf Hazel?

What we know for sure: Hazel harnesses the strength of her namesake, the hazelnut. Like some other nuts and seeds, hazelnuts  feed the brain. More

Slaying the fearsome dragon fruit

Great bowls of fire!

There’s a strange new animal stalking the aisles of the produce section of our grocery store these days. It’s beautiful and a little dangerous looking… with long, scales tipped in green overlying a glossy, red, leathery skin. It’s almost as if it’s breathing flames at you… or getting ready to stab you with poison darts!

Oh No! It’s Dragon Fruit… Hide!

Of course it’s not an animal at all.  It’s a delicious but sinisterly attractive food called the Dragon Fruit. I say ‘sinister’ because you do have to be a little careful. More

Pickled Pink! Eggs Make a Great Snack

Pink up your pickled eggs for even more pizzaz!

Like pickles? Then maybe this easy recipe from Auntie Marlene will tickle your taste buds. Pickled eggs make a healthy snack, whenever hunger fangs sink their teeth into you and dinnertime isn’t anywhere in sight. More

Devilish eggs – Easier than pie!

Devilish egg

If pies give you trouble, either in the making or the eating, try this tasty high-protein snack instead. It’s as easy as boiling an egg!

The secret is in the baggy. More

Make a date with cranberries and digest some good feelings

 

dates and cranberries make a good pair

Dates and cranberries make a good pair. Orange horsey likes oats, too!

Dates and cranberries are best friends. These squares make a super healthy breakfast or snack choice, with fuel that lasts and nutrients that are sure to brighten your family’s mood. More

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