This is Ina Friday which falls on the first Friday of the month when a group of bloggers come together to blog about one of Ina’s recipes and make the food from the original recipe. Another option we have is to create or modify one of her recipes after being inspired by it. I’m taking the second road and developing a healthier recipe based on one of Ina’s.
Do you ever go to a party and wish there were something to drink besides alcohol and sodas? It happens to me often. Oh, I do occasionally drink alcoholic beverages, usually on very special occasions. Taking care of myself, exercising and being careful with my diet are a priority to stay healthy.
Alcohol is on my list of foods and beverages “to avoid” for my healthy eating habits, and I have learned, or conditioned myself to drink plain water if thirsty. In Spain (hubbie’s home), there are more options for teetotalers. It’s easy to find a variety of non-alcoholic beverages on the menu, even non-alcoholic beer on tap. And here in Arizona, I really enjoy a bottle of German Clausthauler beer from time to time. It’s the best “non” that I’ve ever tasted.
This week the Ina Friday blog group members are making an appetizer or beverage and I’ve been eyeballing the watermelon mojito from her Ina’s book Barefoot Contessa: How Easy is That? I know it’s a bit early for watermelon, but it’ll be hot soon enough and then you’ll have this drink in your arsenal of summer beverages. I’ve modified the original recipe to exclude the rum, and I’ve reduced the amount of sugar, making it a perfect healthy and refreshing drink on a spring or summer day, and I’ve kicked it up with extra mint and hot sauce (optional). When I was at the store I was tempted to buy cantalope melon, which would also taste great with mint, but I controlled myself in order not to stray too far off of Ina’s idea. If you like this drink you could try and do some experimenting on your own; try apple, kiwi, or honeydew melon. Hope you enjoy this healthy beverage recipe for kicked up non-alcoholic watermelon mojito.
This drink depends on the size of the leaves you use. I recommend starting with 1/4 cup and then adding more if necessary. It tastes best with a lot of mint, and if you want more kick to it try adding a few drops of hot sauce per glass.
2 cups watermelon, cubed (1 pound)
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons agave syrup
1/4 to 1/3 cup mint fresh leaves, loosely packed (about 30 small to medium leaves)
Louisiana hot sauce (optional)
Blend the ingredients Starting with about 15 leaves of mint.
Add more mint to kick it up more, if you like more mint in it.
Add about 4 drops of hot sauce per person (optional)
This week I made a blackberry almond smoothie with 2 power foods: blackberries, and almond, as you might have guessed. It’s not the first time a smoothie has been posted here. There have also been Ph Green, Blueberry, and Swiss Chard, but this is the first time I’ve added a nut butter to the mix and it really makes a difference! The nut butter adds creaminess so instead of thinking you’re having a smoothie, it feels like you’re having soft ice-cream—so buttery and smooth. Bear in mind that this is the only smoothie I’ve added a sweetener to, but it is a much better option than ice-cream. This icy treat has no preservatives, it’s much lower in sugar than ice cream, it uses a natural sugar, and it’s got fiber, potassium, vitamin E, and magnesium. The idea of adding nut butter came after seeing and making this awesome chocolate milkshake from TheDetoxinista.com. You’ve got to try it!
In reference to a six-month study, James Clear wrote in an article for the Huffington Post that environment designs can have an influence on your eating habits. The study was done in a hospital cafeteria. No one said anything to the cafeteria customers, but the researchers place water in strategic locations throughout the cafeteria, making them more visible to customers. Soda sales dropped by 11.4% over a 3 month period and water sales rose by 25.8 percent. This is why grocers place the more expensive items at eye level in the grocery market, because a person is more likely to choose it because it is more visible.
James Clear, suggests that if you want to change your eating habits change your environment. Place the healthier foods toward the front of the refrigerator. And I would say place your ice cream, if you have any, hidden from view; place peeled frozen bananas, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and frozen spinach in an easy to reach spot.
Have you ever had homemade chai tea? It’s delicious and if you’ve never had it now’s the time to get out a pot and get it going. This month members of the Recipe ReDux group are blogging about a healthy beverage. I love chai! But I’ve been pretty lazy and have just been buying the prepackaged tea bag versions from Tazo or Trader’s Joe’s. They are both good but they are not as good as homemade chai tea.
I guess you could say that I really started liking it last summer while I was in Barcelona for a few days. A friend of ours from the city took us on a fantastic walking tour all over town. She talked to us about the architecture, politics, food and so on. Isn’t it great when you can see a place with a person who lives there? You get to learn little details that you’d never learn on your own. Anyway, it was a hot afternoon and when we were good and tired she took us to a small tea room. It was my first experience of going to a tea room and it was also my first time to drink homemade chai, and they were both great first time experiences. I will visit a tea room again, and as you can see, I am drinking chai again.
Being inquisitive, I asked the tea maker what she put in the tea and she said there are six ingredients: black tea, cardamom, cinnamon, black peppercorns, fresh ginger, and star anise. I later learned that there are many variations of chai and in India they make if different from city to city. But these combined 6 ingredients tasted very good to me so that’s what I’m sticking with for now. Later on I might try adding a quarter stick of vanilla and some orange peel—experimentation is always fun. And you can adjust the spices as you like. You don’t like cardamom? Use less of that and more of something else. It’s all good. Make it to suit your own taste.
2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced into quarters through the cross grain
10 black peppercorns
3 star anise
2-1/2 tablespoons black tea, or 7 teabags
7 cups of water
1 cup milk, soymilk, or other type of milk
Honey or agave syrup to taste
Place the cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, peppercorns, and star anise into a pot with 7 cups of water. Bring it to a boil and allow it to boil gently for 5 minutes. After this time cover the pot and let it steep for 10 minutes.
Add the tea and bring the mix to a boil. When it reaches a boil turn down the heat and let it simmer for 5 minutes.
Strain the tea and then add the milk. Add the honey or agave to taste.
Believe it or not, in my family thick creamy hot chocolate is a good luck drink. Every New Years Eve we gather at my brother’s house in Ukiah, California, in Mendocino County. After enjoying a beautiful dinner that my brother has put together, or that we all collaborated on, we play cards, talk, or watch a movie waiting for the time delayed countdown from New York. Besides taking part in the countdown, everyone also goes for a moonlight walk down a dirt road that runs through the mountain hilltop. Some nights are beautiful and clear, other nights are dark, muddy and rainy. Let me back up, we don’t have to go, but a person would feel guilty about being the one to break the tradition, so we all go. When we get back from the walk the thick creamy hot chocolate is waiting for us. On those cold rainy nights the chocolate goes down especially well. It’s our way of starting the new year on the right foot.
Thick creamy hot chocolate is actually a Spanish tradition that we have shared with my family from Spain, where my husband is from. In Spain, this is thick chocolate is what Spaniards dunk churros into. In case you don’t know what a churro is, it is a fried pastry about 7 inches long, which are especially good dunked into the thick creamy hot chocolate. Chocolate and churros are not something most Spaniards enjoy on a regular basis, they tend to mark a special day, or a special occasion. When I make this hot chocolate, I use non-fat milk to lower the total amount of fat in the recipe, and no one notices the difference.
The bloggers who take part in TheRecipeRedux blog group, many of them registered dietitians, are a group of people dedicated to eating healthy whole foods. Check out some of the links below to see what some of their lucky foods are.
Today the Power Foods blog group takes a look at berries. As a food group, berries are great for you. Berries contain anthocyanins, which help to reduce inflammation, and may help to prevent cancer. My favorite berry, the blueberry, provides more antioxidants than many other fruits. Blueberries rank low in on the glycemic index (GI) so they are a good fruit for people with type 2 diabetes. These berries also support memory, and they have cardiovascular and blood pressure benefits as well.
Don’t wash your blueberries when you bring them home from the market. Washing them will only make them spoil earlier. Wash before you plan on eating them. If you plan on freezing your fresh berries, then wash them, pat them dry, separate them out on a flat pan, and then flash freeze them for an hour. Once they are three-quarters frozen you can place them in a bag and return them to the freezer. By flash freezing before you put them in a bag, they will not freeze together and clump up.
Recipe Type: Beverage
I sometimes make the blueberry smoothie without banana and then just add a drop of sweetener, but banana helps to sweeten the drink and make it more filling. It’s a great drink for my healthy eating habits!
1/2 small banana (optional)
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup soy milk
1/2 teaspoon real vanilla extract
1/2 cup ice
Place the ingredients in a blender and process until it is smooth and homogeneous.
My appreciation for Swiss chard began about 20 years ago when I bit into a Swiss chard pie, wow was that good! Since then, I’ve learned to eat it sautéed, in soups, bean stews, and burritos. This leafy green has an earthy, crisp and well-rounded flavor that not only tastes good, but it’s superb for your body. One cup of cook chard contains 715.9% daily nutritional value of vitamin K, and this vitamin seems to play an important role in the prevention or treatment of bone fracture. It’s also plays an important role for anticoagulant therapy, bone loss prevention, osteoporosis, and inflammatory bowel disease, to name a few. Are you listening Baby Boomers? Swiss chard is also high in vitamins A and C, magnesium, manganese, potassium, and iron, and it’s loaded with antioxidants. Come on. Try it!
My kitchen turned into a science lab this week when I experimented with a new vegan dish. The principal ingredient was the chard, of course, which I dipped in hot water and then rolled with a filling of cooked buckwheat, sautéed onions, chopped dried tomatoes, and diced carrots. The dish was definitely for hard-core vegans—not for those trying to eat more vegetables and less meat, like many of my readers. Luckily I had a back-up plan. Some time back I posted a recipe for pH Green Drink and the feedback was very positive and I had a few requests for another healthy smoothie, so here is my Swiss chard smoothie. It’s quite delicious and has no added sugars. Add green smoothies to your healthy eating habits!
Servings: 1 to 2 Yield: 12 oz. Total Time: 5 minutes
1. Put a couple of cups of water on to boil. When it reaches a boil, turn off the water and dip the chard leaf in the water and leave it 15 seconds. (Blanching the chard will make the flavor more mild). Remove it and place it in a blender.
2. Add the other ingredients to the blender along with ¾ cup ice and ½ water. Process until smooth. Drink right away.
WAIT!! Don’t close this page! OK, So you’ve seen the picture of the green drink and you’re thinking… ”Forget it! I’m not going to drink any green slime.” Up until about a month ago, I would have thought the same thing if someone had offered me one of those…grassy looking drinks. But lately, there has been so much talk about the benefits of fresh green smoothies (here, here and here), that one day I just couldn’t resist any longer —I had to try. I threw some spinach, grapes and cucumber into the blender and mixed it on high for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes. The result…nice surprise…I didn’t gag. The drink went down smoothly and had a pleasant sweet taste. I’m open for more experimentation and I think I’ll have some fun with it.
pH green smoothies started occupying space in my mind after reading a book called “The pH Miracle”, by Dr. Robert O. Young, known to many as the pH diet. In this book, Dr. Young explains that the body’s blood must maintain a neutral pH, not too much acid or alkalinity, in order to maintain good heath. When the body is too acidic, as in the case of many Americans, you’ll have health problems like: eczema, arthritis, diabetes, autoimmune related illnesses, cancer, and so on. For our bodies to become more alkaline we need to be eating more raw alkalizing vegetables and fruits. Enter the green smoothie. The pH green smoothie, made with alkalizing vegetables and fruits will help restore our bodies to the proper pH levels.
So go ahead and try one and do something good for yourself.
Total time: 5 minutes
1 handful of spinach
1-1/2 inch length cucumber, peeled
1) Throw the spinach, grapes, cucumber, 1/4 cup water, and 2-3 ice cubes onto a blender and mix on high for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes, or until the juice is well blended.
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Mulled wine, or Glogg as it’s also called, has been around for a long time and everyone has their own version, myself included. At this time of the year when people in many homes are in a festive mood and serve alcohol, it’s nice to have a non-alcohol alternative (though the alcohol has evaporated, it’s not recommended for alcoholics). Mulled wine, if you’ve never tried it, is a warm drink that warms your body and your spirit and makes a merry alternative to alcohol. Another benefit is that the aroma of the wine and spice make the house seem cozy and warm. Mulled wine was Clarence the Angel’s choice drink in It’s a Wonderful Life. It was good enough for Clarence and it’s good enough for me, too!
1 bottle (750 ml.) red wine
1 bay leaf
Orange peel from ½ an orange
2 black peppercorns
8-10 whole cloves
4 tablespoons agave nectar
Use a potato peel to get the peel from ½ an orange.
Bring the wine just to a simmer; do not boil. Add the orange peel, the bay leaf, the peppercorns the cloves, and the agave. Simmer 15 minutes. Strain and serve.
Sodas should probably be one of the first items to give up if you want to have healthy eating habits. The reason is, they account for a large amount of a soda drinker’s sugar intake. Is soda your downfall? You’re not alone. Look at what they say at Fooducate, “Candy accounts for only 6% of the added sugar in the American diet. Soft drinks and juice account for 46%.”
You probably know that there are approximately eight teaspoons of sugar in most canned sodas. And you surely know that sodas are harmful to your health. You’ve considered quitting them, but you’re afraid of going cold turkey. Try my recipe for homemade ginger ale, or ginger beer, for two to three weeks to ease you into going cold turkey and soda free. It’s caffeine free and low in sugar.
Ginger Ale: 8 servings
Photo by Mia
4 oz. fresh ginger root
5 cups water
1 to 2 packets Truvía, or 1 to 2 teaspoons Agave syrup to sweeten
Optional: a couple sprigs of mint
Directions for Ginger Liquid:
Peel the ginger and cut slices across the grain of the ginger root, to 1/4 inch thick. Put the ginger and water into a non-reactive pot and bring to a boil. Continue boiling until the water has reduced to 2 ½ cups. Strain and cool the liquid. You should have 2 cups liquid, which can be stored in the refrigerator for seven days. If you have less than 2 cups, add more water and bring back to a boil for 2 minutes, and then cool. Discard any remaining liquid on eighth day.
To Make Ginger Ale:
Pour ¼ cup liquid in a 10 to 12 oz. glass. Add 1 to 2 small packets Truvía (3.5 grams each), or 1 to 2 teaspoons Agave syrup. Add ice and soda water. Stir to mix.
To Make Ginger Beer:
For ginger beer, add an extra tablespoon to the glass for this stronger flavored drink. Adjust the sweetener.