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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Turn to Low-Carbs with Turnips



Adding a new 'good for you' food item to our diet can be rewarding. As we learn about unfamiliar ingredients, especially those that introduce enormous amounts of health benefits to our diet, we should embrace and learn to love them. It is very important to gain knowledge of not only the benefits, nutritional values and possible side effects, but also ways to prepare and serve them. Yes, there is that element of rejection, especially if kids are involved in the equation.  How to present them is as important as how they taste.























Turnips are ‘non-starchy' vegetables, and they have less than a quarter of the amount of carbohydrates found in potatoes. Each cup of turnips contains 4.2 grams of total carbohydrates while an equivalent serving of potatoes contains 13.5 grams. So, turnips are great choices for people who follow a low-carb diet.  Both turnips and potatoes contain fiber, a type of carbohydrate not absorbed by your body. Fiber helps maintain your digestive health and can lower your cholesterol. Turnips are often overlooked and left behind at the stores. They are odd looking, and some of us don’t know what to do with them, therefore, we just don’t buy them.  It is kind of sad that we don’t use turnips often in our cooking. When they are young and fresh, they are delicious just roasted in the oven. Use them in any dish you would use potatoes to enjoy a meal with a little less guilt.

Simply wash, peel and cut the same as you would a potato.  They can be used in any number of soups, stews and other dishes that normally call for potatoes. Their soft texture and mild flavor blend really well with the seasonings used in most recipes. Just for the record, I do not like turnip greens and I would understand if you are hesitant to try the roots if you don't like greens as well. Nevertheless, after introducing them in a few dishes, turnips are becoming a staple in our household (our kids never realized that turnips were even used). Give them a try!








Sunday, February 16, 2014

Lets discus Diabetes and the power of positive people



I would like to be an inspiration to those who think that some bumps on the road are there to stop you in your tracks . First of all, I need to say that I am not one of those remarkable people that will leave behind a profound mark on earth after I’m gone. Nope, I am not here to save the world. Nevertheless, I am always ‘TRYING’ to do the right thing and to be an example to those close to me. If reading this blog makes you smile or helps you get closer to your family or friends, it is worth it for me to keep on writing.
                           
So far, I have enjoyed writing about food, sharing some of my favorite recipes and special moments spent in the garden, in addition to tackling some DIY home projects. After taking a little time off to reflect on where this blog is going, now I am convinced I have to dedicate some time to learning and helping others with those little curves that life presents us.

We (my family) have been dealing with juvenile diabetes for just a few years, and I feel the need to take a little time to encourage people that have been diagnosed or who have a family member or friend that are dealing with this disease. (The data from the 2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet indicated that 25.8 million children and adults in the United States - 8.3% of the population - have diabetes). Read more about the statistics here

As you can imagine, by now this number has increased. So, it is time to use the power of the internet and today’s social media to learn more about the technology and different ways to deal with this bump in the road. I have to make sure you know I am not a doctor nor do I play one on TV!  I can honestly tell you that blogging makes me a better learner and knowing I might help someone in need, it will be worth all the time and energy spent here!

I am beginning a new “chapter” in my blogging efforts.  In addition to my regular entries about food, home and garden, I will be introducing many thoughts and comments focused on diabetes and the ways that it affects my son, my family and those around us.  I am most concerned about learning how to be a dad to someone that struggles with the day to day demands of a disease and how to maintain a sense of normalcy.  My wife and I want to bring both our children up with the idea that they can be positive thinkers and successful in anything that they decide to be passionate about.

I want to encourage all followers of my blog to join with me in this journey if they choose, and to feel free to help us along the way.  Any comments would be greatly appreciated and we hope that families will seek us out and offer as little or as much information as they desire.

P.S. I will be sharing a few tips (drink more water) and some healthy eating recipes that we can integrate into a diabetes management routine. 



Saturday, November 23, 2013

'Tis The Season To Drink Hot Chocolate - With a Twist!


There is nothing better than having a cup of hot cocoa on a cold night. If you love hot chocolate, you have to give this peppermint white chocolate beverage a try. It is creamy, rich and will warm your soul. It is one of those drinks that you want to hold with both hands and enjoy the heat that is emitted from the mug. The peppermint is not overpowering and you will enjoy the minty taste as well as the aroma of each sip you take. If you are a little congested – very common this time of the year, it will help you breathe a little better. The recipe I am sharing calls for some cornstarch which is used to thicken the chocolate. In Latin-American countries, it is customary to have a rich-thick hot chocolate. That is the way the "Abuelas" (grandmothers) learned how to make and serve hot chocolate. 
My understanding is that Starbucks offers a similar beverage and I might have to give it a try. However, when I make my recipe at home, I don't feel half as guilty when I go back for a refill! So, give it a try and see for yourself. 

4 cups 2% milk
1 cup white chocolate chips (8 ounces) or white chocolate bar, chopped 
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 teaspoon corn starch

Mini marshmallows and peppermint candies for garnishing.

Combine milk, white chocolate, peppermint extract, vanilla and cornstarch in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is heated completely. If too thick, add a little milk. Remember, this beverage is supposed to be thicker than regular hot cocoa. 

Pour hot chocolate into mugs; top with whipped cream, marshmallows and crushed peppermint candies.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Cottage Pie




Cottage Pie is also known as Shepherd’s Pie. It is another comfort food dish that can be put together in no time. It is truly a meal that will satisfy any appetite, and if you have left over, you are going to love it the second time around even more.  This dish/casserole is very popular all over the world and if prepared with lamb, you should call it Shepherd’s Pie.  Cottage pie is made with ground beef which will be the only major change in the ingredients used for the Shepherd’s Pie.  I said major change, only because you can add or subtract ingredients and seasoning to adapt the recipe to your taste. As I was taking pictures of the finished product, I realized that it is not a good looking dish.  It could be made in individual serving containers and if served well- garnished you could easily achieve a wow factor.  When serve at home as a meal, I would not worry about the look so much. I know people are going to love this casserole. Hey, it is meat and potatoes, and what’s not to love about that??? If you don’t have time to make your own mashed potatoes, use instant. You can use a chicken stock instead of water, and add sour cream instead of milk. Use salt and pepper to taste and you will have a good substitute for homemade mashed potatoes.  I don’t like to use a lot of shortcuts on a dish that is going to be served as a side dish (homemade mashed potatoes). In the case of this pie, the potatoes will become another ingredient of the dish and will absorb many flavors allowing you to get by with instant. Just give it a try, I think if you are not familiar with this dish, it could be a favorite meal to cook.

 INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 lbs ground round beef
1 onion chopped
2 cups frozen vegetables - chopped carrots, corn, peas
2 lbs potatoes
1/2 stick of butter
1/2 cup beef broth
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt, pepper, other seasonings of choice
Cheddar cheese (optional)

METHOD

Peel and quarter potatoes, boil in salted water until tender (about 20 minutes). Mash potatoes in a bowl add butter and season to taste.

Sauté onions in with a little olive oil until tender over medium heat. Add the vegetables and sauté for about 5 minutes and set aside.   Sauté ground beef until no longer pink. I usually rinse the meat with enough water to get rid of the excess fat. Return meat to a pan; add salt and pepper, worcesterchire sauce, sautéed vegetables and a half a cup of beef broth. Cook, uncovered, over low heat for 10 minutes, adding more beef broth as necessary to avoid drying out.  Place beef in baking dish. Distribute mashed potatoes on top. You can top it with cheddar cheese if you like.  Cook in 350 degree oven until bubbling and brown (about 30 minutes).



Sunday, November 10, 2013

Broccoli Casserole




It is a blessing to be able to grow older and, a double blessing if you can do it in good health. Why do I start this blog entry talking about getting older? Simple, in a few weeks we will be celebrating New Year’s Day! What in the world is going on with the speedometer of life? It just seems like time flies by. If you can keep up with your work, family and house maintenance you are one step ahead of everybody else. Whether we are spending time at work or at home trying to keep up with life, we have to find time to prepare meals to satisfy physiological needs.  Yes, if you have all the money in the world you can eat out every meal.  Just remember, when you prepare a meal at home, you can pick healthier ingredients to eat better. Also, there is no doubt that hanging around the kitchen with family and friends is a good way to build memories. I am preparing a broccoli casserole that can be put together in a very short amount of time, with low fat ingredients and a reduced amount of sodium. This casserole is timeless and can be the perfect side dish to any meal.  You can make it a day ahead and store it uncooked in the refrigerator till you are ready to bake.  Yes, it is an old recipe, and you might already have it, but this is just a reminder that casseroles can help you out when time is limited.  We usually include this dish in our Thanksgiving meal but we also use it throughout the year.

Ingredients


1.5 pounds of freshly frozen broccoli florets
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup fat free sour cream
1 can of healthy choice – cream of mushroom soup
1 teaspoon Worcestershire
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 sleeve buttery crackers (like Ritz), crushed
2 tablespoons butter

Instructions

Cook broccoli according to package directions and drain well.
Combine broccoli, eggs, sour cream, mushroom soup, Worcestershire, garlic powder, and 1 cup of cheese; mix well.
Pour mixture into a greased casserole dish and, when ready to bake, top with crushed crackers and several pats of butter.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 35 to 40 minutes until set. Remove from oven and top with remaining cheddar cheese; return to oven until cheese is melted.



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