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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French toast sandwiches

Serving and eating French toast sandwiches

March madness!!!

March in Ontario has us all looking forward to spring. And along with that comes a welcome school break – a whole week of free time!

Let’s help Mom and Dad survive March madness by getting creative. We’ll make them lunch!

Start with a loaf of fresh whole-grain bread. Add eggs, low-fat milk and some nice seasonings. Then fill with fruit or low-sugar jams,  and cheese or nut butter. Use any combination of fruit and protein fillings your heart desires. Sweeten your sandwich with a touch of mineral-rich maple syrup, a time-tested spring tonic offered up by our Canadian forests. And you have a lunch anybody would definitely come home for.

Kids, put on your chef hats and get to work on this easy recipe. And remember to clean up afterwards, perhaps while singing about peanut butter. All recipes should be this simple!

French taost sandwiches ingredients.  Bread soaked in egg&milk.

I soaked my bread in egg, milk, and seasonings in this Pyrex bowl.

French toast sandwiches with apples and gouda
Makes two

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons skim milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1  apple, sliced (MacIntosh or other good baking apple is best. My Granny Smith was good, but remained a little crunchy after baking.)
  • 3 ounces cheese (brie, gorgonzola, mild cheddar, gouda, goat cheese or whatever kind you like)
  • 1 tablespoon oil (coconut or canola), flavored with a dab of butter

As you can see, I made  just one sandwich, so I cut amounts  in half.
If your frying pan won’t hold two sandwiches lying flat in a single layer
(like mine doesn’t),  fry the bottoms of your sandwiches one at a time.
Transfer them to a second, larger pan for the oven portion of the cooking and continue from there.

  1. Preheat oven to 350F (180C).
  2. Whisk the eggs with the milk, cinnamon and vanilla in a shallow bowl.
  3. Soak 4 slices of bread in the egg mixture, turning once, until all the liquid is absorbed.
  4. Slice the cheese thinly and core and slice the apples. See TIP  (below) for slicing apples easily.
  5. In an oven-safe skillet big enough to hold two sandwiches, melt a dab of butter with the oil over medium heat.
  6. Cook two slices of bread in the oil until golden on the bottom.
  7. Layer the frying bread slices with the cheese, then cover the cheese evenly with the apples.
  8. Cover the two filled slices with a second slice of eggy bread.
  9. Flip the sandwiches and move the pan into the oven, preheated to 350F.
  10. Bake for 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the bottoms are golden.
  11. Remove and serve with a drizzle of maple syrup, if you want.

Variations

Try smearing one of the  slices in your sandwich with nut butter and soak the other side in the egg mixture. Top the nut butter with banana slices or even pear or papaya slices if you want to be more original. Then finish your sandwich as described above.

Experiment with different kinds of bread – try sourdough, croissants (you can get whole wheat ones, these days), or even a fresh rye.

Sweeten the egg mixture with liquid stevia and omit the syrup topping. This option would appeal to folks who want to eliminate added sugar in their meal plans. It’s what I did. The sandwich tasted amazing. Avoiding added sugar lowers the glycemic index of your lunch. It’s especially important for people who want to avoid chronic diseases, like diabetes or fatty liver. Or enjoy your sandwich with only its natural sweetness.

Apple-slicing tips

  • Cut your apple in half with stem end up and slice downwards to the bottom.
  • With flat side down, cut each of the halves in half again, along the core.
  • Take each quarter and angle your knife from the bottom of the core to dead centre (see picture).
  • Then twist and press upwards on the knife. The core pops out easily, without breaking the piece in half. Don’t try this from the stem end, or the segment will break.
  • Finally, cut each quarter into thin slices, about 2 mm wide.
  • Any slices left over after filling your sandwich make nice plate decorations.
  • Check out an earlier post for info on apple nutrition.

Serving and eating French toast sandwiches

Any way you slice it, have an amazing March break. Let Vinny know here all the amazing things you are doing (and eating) over your week away from school.

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