Gingerbread Cookies

How adorable are these cute little gingerbread men and women? I couldn’t resist…as with every year I have to make my special gingerbread people.  It’s a fun, festive ritual that I take part in and enjoy every second of the process from grading cutting shapes with my cookie cutters to decorating the clothes and features on the gingerbread people.  Here is a wonderfully delicious gingerbread recipe that will surely compliment your gingerbread house this season.

I was so excited to make these gingerbread guys and gals because I used two of my new Open Sky products, my Winco Aluminum Rolling Pin, which was fabulous and created an even and smooth surface for my cookie cutters and my Copper Bowl, which was perfect for mixing my ingredients to create the gingerbread dough.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ginger
  • ½ tsp. cloves
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. wheat germ
  • ¼ cup ground flax seeds
  • 1 stick butter, unsalted and softened
  • 1 tsp. honey or agave nectar
  • ¼ cup oil
  • 1 cup sugar or stevia
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat several baking sheets with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl combine whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, flax seeds, wheat germ and salt; mix well. Beat butter, honey, oil and sugar in another large bowl with an electric mixer until it forms a creamy texture.
  • Add egg, molasses and balsamic vinegar; beat until combined. Add the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
  • Divide the dough into 4 equal portions, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 3 hours or overnight.
  • On a floured surface, roll each portion separately to create a 1/4 inch thickness. Cut cookies using cookie festive cutters. Combine scraps and roll dough again to make additional cookies.
  • Place cookies on baking sheets.
  • Bake the cookies, about 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  • Decorate with icing and personalize each gingerbread man and woman.

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Genuine Health Give-away

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I recently discovered Genuine Health, a company offering supplements and products.  Their o3mega + joy product is quite unique and I thought I’d share it with all of you.  Here are some facts about o3mega + joy, as well an opportunity to win a fabulous Genuine Health gift basket.

What is Genuine Health o3mega+ joy?

Based on leading research and developed in-conjunction with a naturopathic doctor, o3mega+ joy was one of the first all-natural mood support formulas in North America.

What’s in it?

Its unique formula contains EPA concentrate with DHA, essential Omega-3 fatty acids derived from wild, pure fish oils.  The exact dosage of these ingredients is clinically proven to help improve mental outlook, including the seasonal blues, as well as reduce inflammation in the body.

Benefits of taking o3mega+ joy include

  • Improved mood and mental outlook
  • Decreased symptoms of seasonal blues
  • Decreased inflammation, including joint health and mobility
  • All-natural, pure ingredients with no fishy taste, repeat or odor

Where does the Omega-3 (EPA and DHA) come from?

These oils are derived from pure, wild and plentiful sources including anchovy and sardines. These fish are among the highest in beneficial Omega-3 oils and are sourced from the most regulated and monitored fisheries in Peru, considered a world leader in sustainability (with no harm or risk to environment or fish species).

To ensure highest quality and purity, Genuine Health adheres to world-wide standards, including those established by the European Commission (EC), Norwegian Food Safety Authority (NFSA), Health Canada, and the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Who should take o3mega+ joy?

  • Those who want to improve their mood naturally
  • Those who do not eat fish regularly and lack adequate Omega-3s in their diet
  • Those who experience seasonal ‘blahs’
  • Those suffering the baby-blues

For your chance to win this Genuine Health Basket, leave a comment on this post telling me if you have taken Omega 3 Fish Oil Supplements, and your thoughts on Omega 3 Fish Oils and their benefits?  I will randomly choose a winner on Tuesday morning, November the 17th.

Be sure to visit the Genuine Health website for more supplements and products.

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Sauteed Onions

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It recently dawned on me how under-rated sauteed onions are…Last night, while cooking dinner I decided to saute some onions to top my bison burger.  Well, let me just say that I’m so glad that the thought of onions crossed my mind while waiting for my bison to cook.  I started with a hot pan spritzed with olive oil and a dash of sea salt and freshly ground pepper.  I let the oil heat for about 45 seconds and then added in two large, beautiful sweet onions that I purchased at the Union Square Green Market earlier this week.

I tossed in a dash of balsamic vinegar and let the onions cook for about five minutes.  I lowered the heat to a simmer and continued to stir the onions until they were caramelized and tender.  I like my sauteed onions very well done and cook them until they start to brown.  Then I tossed in a pinch of red pepper flakes and a minced clove of fresh garlic for a spicy kick.  Another few minutes of simmering and these onions were ready to top by burger.

Honestly, ‘wow’ is all I have to say…I was speechless and helped myself to two more servings of the onions.  Why are sauteed onions so under-rated? We just don’t seem to hear about them enough, do we?  Well, I don’t at least.  And to be perfectly honest with you, the idea to saute these onions came from my good friend Jennifer, who was preparing sauteed onions last weekend when I spent the afternoon cooking and baking at her fabulous apartment.  Thanks Jennifer–you’ve got me on a serious sauteed onion kick.

Within minutes, my kitchen smelled wonderful with roasting onion vapors wafting through the apartment.  Anyone who lives on my floor was sure to smell the heady onion aroma that fooled them into thinking I was creating a feast.  I have decided to start keeping a stash of sauteed onions in my fridge for an easy go-to topping and accompaniment to any savory dish.  Now, we all know sauteed onions are usually served with pierogies, which my mother is a huge fan as I recall she created these every week when I was a child, however you can enjoy sauteed onions with just about any dish.

There is a vast array of onions to choose from, but I always stick to these three:

Yellow Cooking Onions

  • Can be found in net bags and are the most common in the kitchen.  They are the strongest in flavor but are sure to have your eyes tearing in no time.

White Onions

  • These are known for their slightly sharper, sweeter flavor than yellow onions.  They are most often used with Mexican dishes.

Spanish Onions

  • These large, yellow onions appear to be as round as an orange.  They have a high water content, therefore they spoil quickly.  Spanish onions are slightly sweet and not too strong with a slight crisp.

Onions should always be cut using a good, sharp knife.  Interestingly enough, you should never use a food processor to cut onions because this pulls out the liquid and makes the onions acrid and incredibly mushy.

As for the onion breath…well, you surely won’t get the stinky breath with cooked onions–that gift is only given when you bite into a raw, fresh onion.

Sauteed onions can be added to many dishes from omelets and burgers to stir-fries and meats. So, go ahead and whip up some onions for one of your dishes this weekend–let me know what you’re pairing these onions with as I’m curious to know…maybe I’ll even feature your sauteed onion recipe and dish on my website.

Happy onion cooking, everyone…try to keep those precious eyes from tearing up when slicing.

Healthy Coconut ‘Fried’ Rice

Here is a delicious gluten and dairy free recipe that I cooked up last night for myself.  The powerful flavors of the saffron and coconut make this a tasty meal for any season.

rice

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/4 cup Greek plain yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp. oil
  • 1 sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup dairy-free milk (soy, hemp, rice, nut)
  • 1 large tomato, finely diced
  • Dash of Nu-Salt and pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • Dash of saffron
  • Dash of curry powder
  • 1 tsp. agave nectar
  • 4 cups brown rice, cooked
  • 5 scallions, finely chopped
  • Handful of fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/4 tsp. coconut extract
  • 1 tsp. nutritional yeast
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • 1 block extra firm tofu, pressed and drained

Directions

  • In a medium bowl, combine eggs and egg white; beat with a fork until blended.
  • Coat a large pan with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat.
  • Pour in egg mixture and scramble.  Remove eggs and set aside.
  • To the same pan, add oil and heat over medium-high heat.  Add garlic and onions; stir fry until golden brown.  Add Nu-Salt, pepper, vinegar and diced tomato; continue to stir fry for 2 minutes.  Slowly add the non-dairy milk, cinnamon, agave nectar, nutritional yeast, saffron, curry, coconut flakes, coconut extract.
  • Add brown rice, tofu and continue to stir fry for another few minutes.
  • Add in the cooked eggs.  Stir fry for another minute to ensure even cooking.
  • Remove from heat and serve.  Top with scallions, a dollop of Greek yogurt and cilantro.
  • Enjoy!

Dark Chocolate Chip n’ Peach Rice Pancakes

I couldn’t resist posting this tasty recipe that I cooked up last week.  These gluten and dairy-free pancakes are the ultimate brunch food and the powerful antioxidants in dark chocolate and peaches are sure to rock your taste buds!

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Ingredients

  • ½ cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 fresh peach, finely chopped
  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 1 cup brown rice, cooked
  • 2 Tbsp. stevia
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 egg or egg substitute
  • 1 cup dairy-free milk (soy, hemp, rice, nut)
  • 2 tsp. oil

Directions

  • In a medium sized bowl, combine all dry ingredients.
  • In a separate medium sized bowl, gently beat egg and combine all wet ingredients (and peach chunks).
  • Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix well.
  • Pour onto a hot, oiled skillet or griddle.
  • Cook until golden brown and flip.
  • Serve with honey and fresh fruit.
  • Enjoy!

Eat By The Season

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Do you find yourself eating more fresh fruit and crisp veggies in the summertime? More soup and meat in the winter?  I know that my body craves juicy, water-rich foods in the warmer months and heat-producing foods like meat, oil and nuts in the winter.

I’m not alone in this theory as most people go with their natural instincts and choose their foods based on the season.  Many people do not eat fruit in the winter because the weather is colder and fruit is a cooling food, which will lower your body temperature during a cold time of the year and may challenge your immune system, leading to sickness.

During the winter months our bodies need shelter and warming foods.  Many of us are under enormous amounts of stress during this time of the year due to the holiday season, where we are running from party to party, shopping and eating and drinking too much.  During this time we should be living in harmony with our bodies and our surroundings to bring in the New Year in good health.  We can do this by eating with the harvest and consuming local produce.  Now, this does not mean going to the food store and stocking up on what’s in stock because in the present day our supermarkets are stocked with produce that has been imported all over the world, so it’s quite hard to know what IS actually in season.  You can buy bananas and mangoes year-round.  When we eat something out of season it has to travel quite a distance and stay fresh using refrigeration.  By choosing locally grown foods, we not only consume fresher produce, but we are also more informed about where it comes from and how it was cultivated.

Eating locally creates a sense of community; I usually talk to the farmers at the NYC Farmer’s Market in Union Square about what they grow throughout the seasons.  If you think aboutit, people have been eating locally produced veggies and fruits for thousands of years.  Our ancestors did not have refrigeration, therfore they HAD TO eat from the land.  They ate fresh greens in the spring, fruit in the summer, root veggies in the fall and more fats and animal foods in the winter.  We can strengthen our connection to our surroundings and our bodies by eating according to the hearvest.

Now, you may be thinking…’it’s complicated to cater my diet to the seasons’…but, it’s acutally quite simple.  Your body knows exactly what it wants and needs.  In the spring, many people crave leafy greens and citrus foods.  I enjoy making spinach salads with citrus vinagarettes and freshly chopped herbs and fruit.  In the summer, people crave cooling foods such as veggies and fresh fruits.  I know many people enjoy corn on the cob and mixed fruit salads during the heat-scorthing days.  On the other hand, in the fall we crave grounding foods like onions, nuts and squash.  In the winter many people crave warm, heat-producing foods such as oil, soups, whole grains, meat and fats to feel more solid and insulated from the cold.  The wintertime is when we may want to adjust our cooking methods by putting more heat into our food and cooking it for longer.  Roasting and baking vegetables or using a Crockpot to make stews is a great way to warm up in the wintertime.  Adding more oils, proteins and nuts to your meals will ensure that extra satisfaction.  Thicker soups such as pea, potato or pumpkin are other great ways to warm up during the cool season.


How about you? Do you tend to ‘eat by the season’?