Pumpkin pie punch

Pumpkin Pie Punch - rum julip

Try this delicious glassful of nutrition with your little tricksters on Halloween this year. It’s a treat that can’t be beat!

Instead of adding sugar, I use stevia in the whipped cream topping, a natural no-calorie sweetener that won’t add a single gram to your little one’s sugar load this Halloween season.

If you want to add a some fire power to the mix for those adults who may drop around on the 31st with their little super people in tow, you can spike their glasses with a dash of rum. It may just be me, but I loved this drink with its modest dose of alcohol. I christened the boozy version “Jack-o-lantern Julip”.

Pumpkin Pie Punch - rum julip

Pumpkin Pie Punch
or…
Jack-O-Lantern Julip
Makes 8 half-cup servings or 4 large servings of 1 cup each

  • 1 liter (4 cups) cold apple cider
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (see below)
  • 1 cup cold club soda
  • Optional: 3/4 cup rum (turns your drinks magically into julips – only for adults on foot. Remember, don’t drink and drive!)

Garnish

Pumpkin pie spice

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  1. Refrigerate your apple cider and club soda a few hours before you make the punch.
  2. If starting from scratch, blend your pumpkin pie spice.
  3. Whisk together the  cider, pumpkin puree, and 1/4 cup whipping cream.
  4. Add the spice
  5. Core and slice an unpeeled red apple. Dip the slices in lemon juice to keep them from browning.
  6. Pour the pumpkin punch into a large serving bowl. Add a tray of ice cubes. At the last minute, add the club soda and mix gently. Garnish with the whipped cream, some apple slices, and a sprinkling of spice mix.

To serve individual drinks

  1. Put an ice cube in a glass that holds 1.5 cups. Add 3/4 cup pumpkin mix and 1/4 cup club soda. To make the adult version, add 2 tablespoons of alcohol. Mix gently.
  2. Garnish with a dab of whipped cream, a dash of pumpkin pie spice and slice of apple.
  3. Serve with a small coffee spoon.

Note: Proportions can vary depending on taste. But just to say, I tested the above, and I loved the drink with the 2 tablespoons of rum. Delicious!

pumpkin bowls

Where the nutrition is hiding

Don’t throw out that jack-o-lantern after the 31st. Eating pumpkin is good for the heart. The fiber, potassium, and vitamin C content all support heart health. One cup of canned pumpkin puree has seven grams of fiber and three grams of protein— even more than the fresh stuff— and contains only 80 calories and one gram of fat. It is also packed with vitamin A, and other antioxidants such as lutein, xanthin, and carotenes. All this means it is great for your eye sight and for fighting chronic diseases. Go pumpkin go! A super-food, indeed.

Cloudy apple juice or cider (with no sugar added) is your best bet for good health. Cloudy apple cider contains more than five times as much of a health-linked antioxidant than clear juice. It also is a good source of potassium and iron. Remember that apple juice contains as much sugar per serving as a soft drink and shouldn’t be drunk as an every-day beverage. In our punch, the apple cider is diluted with several other ingredients, so the level of sugar per serving is less than in regular apple juice. Also, the cream slows the absorption of sugar into your blood stream, to prevent sugar spikes.

Pumpkin pie spice is a powerhouse of antioxidants, the disease fighters that fend of chronic health problems. Cinnamon spice has the highest antioxidant strength of all the food sources in nature. Nutmeg, cloves, and allspice are good for the digestion, and are full of vitamins and minerals. Ditto ginger, which has a long history of use for relieving digestive problems such as nausea, loss of appetite, motion sickness and pain. Spices rev up your good health while boosting flavor. Use them often.

Whipping cream has all the goodness that milk has – protein, calcium, vitamins and minerals. But it also carries a fair amount of saturated fats. These fats may be OK in moderation, but you have to use some caution. They are high in calories and may contribute to heart disease.

The bottom line: There is a lot going for you in this Halloween treat. Let me know how you like it? Boo! From Vinny. xo

Yummy Barbie heads!!!

Trick AND treat! Happy Halloween!

 

 

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Oregano tea is good for what ails you

 

origanum_aureum

Oregano grows like crazy in my garden. I use it as an ornamental ground cover. Then I discovered you can make a tea from it that is useful in curing sore, bothersome throats. Since that is what I have, I’ve given this drink a shot. I love herbal teas and this is a pleasant one. Only time will tell as to whether it heals my sore throat.

Basildon Park, Downton Abbey - tea time

Tea is always in fashion. Why not gives yours a little extra punch?

Oregano Tea
One serving

  • 4-6 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
  • 2 ½ cups water
  • 1 tablespoon organic raw honey
  1. Cut the leaves to release the oil.
  2. Boil the water on the stove for 10 minutes.
  3. Add oregano leaves and allow to steep for five minutes.
  4. Strain and add the honey.
  5. Drink while hot to reap its maximum benefits.

Nutrition

Macbeth’s trio of witches likely used oregano in their many brews. Oregano has been around for thousands of years, popular in cooking and medicine.

Its potent antioxidants and anti-bacterial properties are said to be effective against respiratory tract disorders, gastrointestinal disorders, menstrual cramps, and urinary tract infections and even against dangerous microorganisms like Listeria and MRSA. Its very high concentrations of antioxidants have recently been reported in the Journal of Nutrition.

I don’t want to overwhelm you with details, but ongoing studies are continuing to verify the usefulness of oregano in treating a whole range of problems from diabetes 2 and  cancer to dandruff and acne. Read this link to learn more. You will be amazed.

Always consult your doctor before trying things out on a serious ailment. But many believe a drop or two of oregano oil or a handful of its fresh leaves can be good for whatever ails you. Pip pip!

Oregano oil and kids

Use caution when using herbals on kids. Children under 5 years old shouldn’t have oregano oil by mouth. You can rub some oil on the soles of their feet, though. For further information, read this article, then talk to your doctor.

earl grey tea(bag) cookies

Green tea biscuits enhance your cuppa oregano tea 🙂

Easy miso soup

Miso's Christmas toy

Miso’s Christmas toy

“Here, Miso,” called Vinny, holding out his hand to his fluffy caramel kitten, who gladly came over for a gentle rub behind the ears.

“Why did you call him Miso,” Isla asked as she threw a small toy mouse for the kitten to chase.

“I suppose it was because I like Asian food,” said Vinny, “and this little guy is the exact same color as miso, a food used in Asian cooking. 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 :).

 

 

 

Adela’s Norwegian meatballs, WHO style

Adela's Norwegian meatballs

Traditional cooking, with a healthier outlook

The WHO’s stand on meat

The World Health Organization (WHO) has just sent shock waves through the earth’s stratosphere. What they said was something that anybody who has been following nutrition news in the past few years already knew.

WHO news:  Processed meats cause cancer. And red meats probably cause cancer.

But unless you are genetically predisposed to the disease, the increased risk according to most experts is relatively low. Nevertheless, it’s real. More

The berry scary pie

Berry pie

“That’s scary!” Isla declared, her wide eyes shifting from the cooking pot to the finished product. I knew Halloween had been on her mind, now only a couple of weeks away.

“How so?” I asked. More

Food heroes that fight cancer

5 foods tht fight cancer

Foods that are known cancer fighters

Berries, walnuts, garlic, tomatoes and tea. What do they have in common? They are all proven cancer fighters!

They work best as members of a team. For best health, join them up on your plate with other battle-scarred food heroes of the likes that are cited in this valuable article from the American Institute for Cancer Research.

More

Cinque Terre cocktail

Cinque terre cocktail - chartreuse

Cinque terre cocktail – chartreuse

Vinny is taking an extended break, now that summer is nearly upon us :). To celebrate, he’s sharing a drink with you from the World Heritage site Cinque Terre in Italy, which he hopes to visit some day soon.

More

Stop, Thief! Leafless Mango Salad with Ginger and Garlic Dressing

Mango salad

“I love mangoes,” Isla said one day. “Can we grow some?”

Vinny sighed. “Not here in Canada, kiddo. Mango trees thrive in India, where people call mangoes the Food of the Gods. Mango trees live long and prosper there. Some specimens are over 300 years old and still going strong.”

Isla put on her sad face. More

Making sweet potato fries in the oven – perfect every time

sweet potato fries

Sweet potato fries, perfect in the oven

Sweet Patooty’s back! I raved about the fab qualities of sweet potatoes in an earlier post. But I’ve never posted a recipe for my favorite of all ways of having them… oven-baked fries. That’s because I never felt I’d gotten it quite right. But now, I think I can confidently tell you how to make these beauties come out delicious every time… crispy, not soggy, and definitely not burnt! More

Santa’s elves update Christmas perogies

pirogis

New kitchen tools make it easier to cook perogies from scratch.

Traditional foods…

How perfect is this for Christmas? Everyone’s traditions are different, but for us, it isn’t Christmas without perogies. For a personal twist, I make mine green and red.

My natural food colors have been disappointingly dull. But Stefan’s Gourmet Blog  has inspired me to make improvements. More

Getting in the groceries that send cancer packing

DSCN5232

The magic word is SALADS

According to Dr. Li, we can start today, keeping cancer at bay. Just eat more foods  that slow the growth of blood vessels.

While we’re stuffing our faces with these healthy foods, we’re starving cancer-cell invaders in their tracks.

The foods that do the job aren’t mysterious mumbo jumbo harvested at the ends of the earth. More

Fabulous Fennel, plus an Italian side-dish

Braised fennel with chinese chicken

Fennel makes a great side for barbecued chicken.

What’s Fennel?

Fennel’s a bit of an odd vegetable. Although it turns up in the produce departments of most super markets, it’s not really a regular guest at most people’s tables. Fennel’s best pals with Celery, another kind-of-blah veggie that is often left languishing. These two veggies have the same pale greenish-white crisp flesh. And Fennel’s stalks grow around one another like Celery’s stalks do. Both veggies can be served raw or cooked. And both have a fibrous, mild flavor.

But Fennel deserves a closer look. Once you get to know it, you’ll see it’s loaded with character. More

Walnuts raw: Crunchy party salad comes packed with nutrition

walnut

Walnuts slash diabetic risk by a quarter. Click pic for more.

Continuing with walnuts…

Walnuts raw (see Verse 4 in my previous post) not only develop the jaw, they also strengthen teeth as well as bones in your whole body.

Then too, walnuts help you remember things… like the make-ahead party salad in last week’s blog entry I promised to post. That’s because of the huge amounts of the rarer fat component omega-3 that walnuts have.  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

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

Sweet potato stars as the main course

Sweet Patooty dresses for dinner

Sweet Patooty dresses for dinner

Sweet potato’s qualities

Our Sweet Patooty is not just another pretty face. There’s so much goodness under her skin, I hardly know where to start. She comes from a large family.  There are at least 18 relatives you might meet at the supermarket. All of them bring great qualities to the table. Some have orange or reddish skins, while others are purple-skinned. The purple ones can have white or purple flesh. But we don’t discriminate based on the color of the skin… 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

Pomegranate, Goddess of Love, offers a summer cooler

DSCN2222_edited-copy.JPG

Pomegranate lore

It’s summer time and love is in the air. Alas, humidity and heat are also abundant. What to do! We need ways to stay cool and fit. Enter Lady Pomegranate.

Pomegranates have played a role in both our spiritual and physical lives for thousands of years. The blood-red seeds spilling forth when you cut into the thick skin appeals to people on a primal level. 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

Simply squash

Squash-o-copia - butternut, acorn, ambercup
Squash-o-copia:   butternut, acorn, and ambercup

“Simple!” Dr. Mike says. “Roasted squash is a delicious, low-fat side dish. Enjoy it on my 17-day diet, once you’ve completed the first cycle.”

So I decided to give it a try. The roasted butternut was so good, my friend ate the skin! I suppose that’s one way to boost your fiber – but not one I’d really recommend :). Squash tastes wonderful with lean poultry or pork.

Tip: to make the squash easier to cut, More

Hummus is Pretty in Pink

DSCN1688_edited

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

Green tea for two plus tea trivia galore

Green Tea makes for strong hearts.

 

Green Tea comes with benefits

Host a green tea party for two and do your hearts a favor. A beautiful smile, fresh breath and glowing skin are some other ways green tea can improve your love life.

Even better is the boost it gives your memory, as well as your metabolic rate. All that should earn you some brownie points with your heart’s desire! More

Miss Chicken wears orange for a bolder style

Orange chicken bake

 

Chicken

Take heart, boys and girls. The first meal in my 17-day-diet series is not a salad. Instead, it tells the tale of how the bland and boring Miss Chicken found her style.

We wanted her a little bolder. A little edgier. We also wanted her to have the power to keep you healthy. To do all that we partnered her with the color orange! More

Little Annie Okra

Fiber Bonanza!

Annie Okra hits the target every time when it comes to scrubbing out our innards. Also known as “lady finger,”  this nutritious green pod is rich in fiber as well as some other gluey stuff. This duo helps digest your dinner.  More

Antioxidants, nature’s anti-rust agents

A scoop o’ colorful puréed veggie soup helps the antioxidants go down.

Antioxidants unmasked

Among scientists she goes by the name of  antioxidant. But Vinny’s friends know her as Auntie Oxidant. By either name, she is a kid’s best friend. She is a powerful protector from degenerative disease. This fighter disarms invaders called free radicals, bent on destroying our cells. 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

The three faces of Brocky Lee

Brocky Lee’s Slaw fortifies a lunch-time soup

Brocky Lee is a fine fellow. He’s a member of a well-recognized vegetable family, the Cabbages. Many of Brocky’s famous cousins include such luminaries as Sir  Cauliflower, Mr. Kale, the brothers Radish and Turnip, and the little Missies Brussels Sprouts and Arugula. 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

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