Dark Chocolate Bark

Mer,this fabulous chocolate recipe is for you…it reminds me of when we were younger…after going to see the movie “Chocolat” when we instantly ran out of the theater to our favorite chocolate shop to buy the delicious Dark Chocolate ‘Break-Up’.

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, I’m dedicating this post to my dear friend, Mer…here’s to you Mer and to all of you dark chocolate lovers…I present my special dark chocolate creation…

Ingredients

  • 2 (3 oz.) Organic Dark Chocolate Bars
  • 1/2 cup macadamia nuts
  • 1/4 cup crystallized ginger
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • Topping: An additional sprinkle of chopped cherries, macadamia nuts and crystallized ginger.

Directions

  • Chop chocolate bars; place into a microwave-safe glass bowl.  Microwave on high until chocolate is smooth; stir every 1 minute to ensure even melting.
  • Stir in macadamia nuts, ginger and dried cherries; mix well.
  • Spread mixture onto a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet.
  • Sprinkle with unsweetened coconut and a few more pieces of cherries, ginger and macadamia nuts.
  • Freeze for 2 hours or until firm.
  • Break into pieces and serve.
  • Enjoy!
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Cherry Almond Yogurt Muffins and Old Bay Recipe Contest

Well, there you have it…this is the last of my week stretch of Stonyfield yogurt recipes.  I saved the best for last, of course.  These tasty muffins pack a healthy dose of fiber and protein thanks to the oats, whole wheat flour and cherries and almonds. Whip these up for a morning treat, toasted with marmalade or enjoy them for your evening dessert crumbled atop a bowl of Stonyfield yogurt.  Yum.  Stay tuned for a Stonyfield giveaway gift-basket later this week.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup oat bran
  • 2 cups Oikos plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ cup dried cherries
  • ¼ cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • ¼ cup applesauce
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. all spice
  • Dash of sea salt

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  • Add dried cherries, almonds and sea salt.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and Oikos plain Greek yogurt together.
  • Add melted butter and applesauce to the Oikos mixture; whisk to combine.
  • Gently fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients until moistened.  Be sure not to over mix.
  • Divide batter among 12 muffin cups sprayed with non-stick baking spray.
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown and firm.
  • Enjoy with an additional spread or dollop of Oikos plain Greek yogurt

And now for the Old Bay Seasoning Recipe Contest (I LOVE OldBay, by the way)…

•  Now through December 25th, OLD BAY wants to hear from its Facebook fans* on how they use their favorite spice blend during the holidays – it could be whipping up an OLD BAY recipe, sprinkling it on a holiday favorite, using it as a holiday decoration or giving it as a gift.

•  To enter the contest, post a photo on the fan page (www.facebook.com/oldbay) showing how you zest up your holidays using OLD BAY  – (Entries are limited to one photo posting per week).Each post will be voted on by the amount of “likes” it receives from fellow Facebook fan members.

• The photo post with the most “likes” will receive an  “Ultimate Holi-Bay Gift Basket” ($140 value) that includes:

o   A $25 gift card, a steamer pot and fryer, tons of OLD BAY products, 5 sample packs of OLD BAY for you to share with friends and family, as well as some items for the ultimate OLD BAY fan – branded t-shirts, cups, temporary tattoos, and an inner tube for sledding (or relaxing in the water for those who live in warm weather all year round)!

• One winner will be announced each week, starting the week of November 30th.

*You must be a Facebook member and fan of OLD BAY’s Facebook page to enter contest


Scrumptious Sage Stuffing

You simply cannot go wrong with a gluten-free bread stuffing, especially when its enlivened with fresh sage, white balsamic vinegar and dried cherries. Chunks of bread, golden and crisp on top, soak up turkey stock and buttery juices from the sautéed onions and celery.


Ingredients

  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
  • 1 ripened avocado, mashed
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
  • 6 cups gluten-free bread, chopped into cubes
  • 1/3 cup chopped celery leaves
  • 1 Tbsp. sage, chopped
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped
  • Sea salt and crushed white pepper, to taste

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 400°F.  Spray a baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
  • Over medium heat, cook onion and celery in a large skillet with olive oil, salt and pepper; stirring occasionally, until softened, 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Transfer to a bowl and toss with bread cubes, dried cherries, white balsamic vinegar, mashed avocado, celery leaves, and sage.  Set aside to cool for five minutes.
  • Whisk together vegetable broth and egg in a large bowl.  Gently toss with bread mixture until absorbed.
  • Transfer to baking dish and bake, covered with foil for about 45 minutes.

In The News This Week…

Sodium Reduction- A Top Trend

Relaxation Snacks- A Trend for 2010

Whole Foods Endorses Healthy Lunches

Lox n’ Tofutti Cream Cheese

This has recently become one of my favorite go-to snacks. I purchased lox last week at a gourmet market here in Manhattan and decided to give ’em a whirl…turns out they’re delicious and pack a healthy dose of heart-friendly Omega 3’s!

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I enjoy this snack with my Tofutti Dairy-Free Cream Cheese, lemon flavored hummus or a dollop of Greek yogurt.  However, if you are not lactose intolerant (as I am)…opt for a low fat ricotta cheese or cottage cheese instead.  Each of these options pack a nice dose of protein and a serving of dairy!  Furthermore, the addition of the dried cherries add a nice sweet punch to each bite, again feel free to experiment and try dried cranberries, dried pears or golden raisins.  It’s amazing how switching one simple ingredient can alter the taste of this healthy and easy to prepare go-to snack.

Ingredients

  • Lox
  • Tofutti (Dairy Free) Cream Cheese, Hummus or Plain Greek Yogurt
  • Your Choice: Bran Crackers, Whole Grain Toast, Gluten-Free Pita Wedges
  • Dried Cherries
  • Fresh Dill

Directions

  • Top each cracker/toast/pita with a dollop of Greek yogurt or cream cheese, followed by a slice of lox.
  • Sprinkle with dried cherries and fresh dill.
  • Enjoy!

Omega What?

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Omega 3 Fatty Acids

These healthy fats help prevent a wide range of medical problems such as depression, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and cardiovascular disease.  Unlike the saturated fats found in butter and lard, Omega 3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated.

  • Eat fish at least 2 times a week.  Cold water and fatty fish such as mackerel, lake trout, herring, sturgeon, anchovies, sardines, albacore tuna and salmon are high in Omega 3 fatty acids.
  • Experiment with eating tofu and other forms of soybeans, canola, walnuts and flax seeds, and their oils.  These contain alpha-linolenic acid which can become Omega 3 fatty acid in the body.

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Omega 3 not only plays a vital role in the health of the membrane of every cell in our body, it also helps protect us from numerous health threats.  The benefits of Omega 3’s include reducing the risk of stroke and heart disease while helping to reduce symptoms of joint pain, rheumatoid problems, certain skin ailments, hypertension, ADHD, and depression.  Moreover, some research has shown that Omega 3’s can boost the immune system and help protect us from illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease. 

So, why is Omega 3 so amazing? Experts say these fatty acids encourage the production of body chemicals that help control inflammation in the tissues, bloodstream, and joints.  Moreover, these Omega 3’s reduce the negative impact of Omega 6 fatty acids, which are found in poultry, cereals, baked goods, margarine, vegetable oils and eggs.  These fatty acids support skin health, lower cholesterol and help make our blood “sticky” therefore allowing it to clot.   However, when Omega 6’s are not balanced with enough Omega 3’s in our bodies, problems can arise.  For instance, too much Omega 6 leads to clot formation, which can increase the risk of stroke and heart attach. 

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Sadly enough, the typical American diet has a ratio of approximately 20: 1 Omega 6’s to Omega 3’s respectively. Experts say we need to move that ratio to look more like a 4:1.  Keep in mind that we don’t have to get a daily supply of Omega 3’s, as long as we maintain a weekly intake of 6-8 grams, your body will have what it needs.

Along with the cold water fish listed above, we need to incorporate foods such as flax seed, canola oil, broccoli, cantaloupe, kidney beans, grape leaves, spinach, Chinese cabbage, cauliflower and walnuts.

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Here is a great Heart-Healthy Omega 3 recipe for you to try.

Bake-Less Peanut Butter Bars

Makes 8 Bars

Ingredients

  • Olive Oil cooking spray
  • 1 Tbsp. Organic Dairy Free Margarine
  • 3/4 cup Organic Peanut Butter
  • 1 cup Nature’s Path Hemp Plus Omega 3 Granola
  • 1/4 cup Dried Cherries
  • 2 Tbsp. Organic Honey
  • 1/3 cup Ground Flax seed
  • 1/2 cup Organic Brown Rice Cereal
  • Handful of crushed Walnuts

Directions

  • Spray an 8 x 8 baking pan with cooking spray. 
  • Microwave margarine, peanut butter, and honey in a small bowl until melted.  Mix well.
  • Add granola, brown rice cereal, walnuts, dried cherries and flax seed.
  • Spread the mixture into the baking pan and flatten with a sheet of wax paper.
  • Let cool in the refrigerator.

What Omega-3 rich foods to you incorporate into your meals?

Eating a Rainbow of Colors

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By now, we’ve all heard, “Eat your Veggies”, well there’s a whole rainbow out there of amazing produce known as Superfoods.  Incorporating these babies into your daily diet can fight cancer, improve your memory, and keep those nasty colds away.  So, what are these superfoods that everyone is talking about?

Superfoods are fruits and veggies that are full of antioxidants.  It’s easy to incorporate their rainbow variety into your diet; simply mix n’ match various colors for a plate that is not only pleasing to the eye, but your stomach, as well. 

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Yellow and Orange

  • Oranges
  • Cantaloupe
  • Butternut Squash
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Corn
  • Carrots
  • Apricots
  • Our yellow and orange fruits and veggies are packed with antioxidants that boost our immune systems and provide a nice, big dose of Vitamin C.  Moreover, eating fruits and veggies of these colors help ward off age-related eye disease.  I personally love cooking Butternut Squash and making my Butternut Squash Fries, which can be prepared in minutes and popped into the oven.  Another easy way to incorporate these colors into your diet is combining the above fruits into a smoothie.

    Green

    • Avocados
    • Asparagus
    • Cucumbers
    • Leafy Greens
    • Green Peppers
    • Spinach
    • Broccoli

    These greens help relieve the effects of serious eye ailments such as cataracts and macular degeneration.  Moreover, they help clear the arteries that keep blood flowing to your brain.  My favorite way to incorporate greens into my meals is sauteing spinach and collard greens with garlic and pine nuts.

    Tan and White

    • Parsnips
    • Turnips
    • Cauliflower
    • Onions
    • Mushrooms
    • Bananas
    • Garlic

    These guys  may not have a lotta color to them, however, they pack a serious antioxidant punch with phytonutrients that help protect the heart and fight cancer.  My favorite way to eat the “whites and tans” is to roast parsnips in the oven with a sprinkle of cinnamon and chili powder.

    Blue and Purple

    • Blueberries
    • Raisins
    • Purple Grapes
    • Purple Potatoes
    • Eggplant

    These blue food friends supply us with a healthy dose of antioxidants, which are beneficial for memory and motor function.  I personally love to cook Eggplant Parm–(the gluten free/dairy free way), of course.

    Red

    • Tomatoes
    • Cherries
    • Strawberries
    • Watermelon
    • Radicchio

    Red fruits and veggies contain lycopene and flavonoids are important antioxidants to help fight diseases and various cancers.  Try a rice dish with garlic, pine nuts, olive oil, and tomatoes.

    What’s your favorite way to incorporate a rainbow into your daily diet?