Tag Archives: fruit

Fruit

1 Jan

On the eve of 2016, I won’t go to a glamorous party.  I am not heading out to a swanky dinner.  No, New Years Eve, for me, is about quiet gratitude, thoughtful prayer, and personal peace.  This post is a couple of years old, but I am posting it again.  It still feels relevant to life.  Thanks for reading it.  Happy New Year!

It is now 2013. I don’t really make New Years Resolutions, but I do make some goals. I also reflect on the past, and think about how to improve my future. My journey to love, loyalty, forgiveness, and appreciation continues, as does the journey to discover myself. A goal for my journey is to make it a joyful one. So as I do that this year, I want to say thank you.

Thank you to those who told me I couldn’t. From you I learned that I can.

Thank you to those who gossiped. From you I learned how to hold my friends dear, and how important it is to keep my mouth shut.

Thank you to those with no faith. From you I learned that God is central in my life, and that my faith runs deep.

Thank you to those who told me that I am weak. From you I learned fierce inner strength and confidence. For you allowed me to dig down and discover that I am stronger than I ever imagined.

Thank you to those that told me I was ugly. From you I found my inner beauty.

Thank you to those that put up barriers in my life. From you, I learned how to tear down walls and fight for what I want.

Thank you to those who told me that I am not a good mother. From you I learned that my commitment to motherhood is beautifully imperfect, and perfectly loving.

Thank you to those that put me second (or more accurately third, fourth or fifth) . From you I learn to put myself first.

Thank you to those who are loud and demand attention. From you I learned to be quiet.

Thank you to those who created drama in my life. From you I am learning to truly appreciate peace.

Thank you to those who have an overpowering sense of entitlement. From you I am learning to appreciate everything that I have.

Thank you to those who told me to quit. From you I am learning perseverance.

Thank you to those who brag. From you I learn humility.

Thank you to those that lied to me. From you I am learning the importance of the truth.

Thank you to those who are false and phony. From you I am learning the importance of being genuine.

Thank you to the people who showed me kindness not because I am needy but because you are good.

Thank you to those who extended generosity, for you have enabled me to more openly give to others.

Thank you for those of you that protected me not because I am weak but because you are loyal.

Thank you to those that shared their strength with me during times when I wavered. For you give me the power to be a pillar of strength to someone else.

I am no different from anyone else. I have been hurt. I have felt pain of deceit, the heart break of divorce, cruel disloyalty, and the sting of failure. From that I rise up. Push forward. Continue on. I give thanks to those by my side, and for those that, it seems, turned against me. From everyone whose life has touched mine, I learn. It is easy to be thankful for the great people in your life and to love them. The challenge lies in loving and learning from every body else.

This blog addresses mostly food. Today it is about fruits. The fruits of the spirit.  So I enter this year with gratitude, an open spirit, and prepared to learn more lessons!  I am grateful to everyone that has touched my life and continues to shape the person I am, and the person I am becoming.  So to you I say thank you!

Wet and Fresh

23 May

The warm weather is coming.  Thank goodness.  I am tired of the gray rainy spring.  As much as I detest the horror of getting my jiggles and wiggles into a swim suit, I simply adore summer.  The breezy warm nights, a casual vibe,  outdoor evening concerts, dining al fresco.  Yes, the pleasures of summer are many.  But take caution.  The warm weather can increase the threat of dehydration.

If you are thirsty, you are already experiencing mild dehydration.  And did you know that dehydration is the number one cause of daytime fatigue?  Even mild dehydration can decrease endurance, slow cognitive thinking, and cause headaches.  Great reasons to stay hydrated.

Interestingly enough, studies suggest that 70-80% of daily hydration should come from fluids, and 20-30% from the water content in food.  So, it is important to drink water and healthy fluids during the day and limit sugary drinks.  But in addition to that, especially in the warm summer weather, it’s also important to eat foods that are high in water content.  Need a list?  Look no further.  This list contains fruits and vegetables with more than 90% water.

  • cucumbers
  • watermelon
  • grapefruit
  • iceberg lettuce
  • cantaloupe
  • zucchini
  • radish
  • tomato
  • cabbage
  • bell peppers
  • strawberries

Looking at this list I hope you are not thinking of just eating these wonderful fruits and vegetables solo.  Oh no!  Lets have some fun while we eat our water!  How?  So glad you asked.

How ’bout this…a salad.  No, not a lettuce side salad.  A cucumber watermelon salad is the best!  So hydrating and refreshing in the hot summer months, not to mention beautiful.  Simply dice up watermelon and cucumber.   Toss.  Then the fun begins.

Make it more sophisticated with mint.  Or add a savory balsamic glaze.  There are a million ways to customize this fun summer salad, and it will keep you alert and ready to go to the next thing.  So this summer, don’t forget to eat your water!

Watermelon Cucumber Salad.  Delicious and refreshing.  Oh..and so pretty!

Watermelon Cucumber Salad. Delicious and refreshing. Oh..and so pretty!

Pumpkin is the new bacon.

19 Oct

Wow!  That sure got your attention, now didn’t it?  Pumpkin is the new bacon?  You bet.  I read it on the internet so it must be true (insert sarcastic tone and indignant faux cough with a hair toss here).  Seriously though, it’s an interesting culinary perspective don’t you think?  When sharing this statement with my teenaged son, he became certain that there is a conspiracy at work here. He says nothing could ever be the new bacon.

What, exactly, does this mean…the new bacon. Well, I took it to mean that pumpkin is the new “must have” ingredient that everyone is trying.  So not to be one left in the dark, I decided that pumpkin was MY new bacon.  Pumpkin became my fall food obsession.  Where to begin?  Where I always begin…I delved into the nutritional facts.

Pumpkin is a great source of beta-carotene, which our bodies convert to vitamin A.   That helps form and maintain healthy skin, teeth, and bones.  Vitamin A promotes good vision too.  Love that!

Vitamin C is also abundant in pumpkin.  This vitamin is an essential nutrient is great for our skin, brain health, and necessary to form certain proteins in our body.  .  Vitamin C is a well known antioxidant and essential for good cell health.  The bright orange color means that pumpkin is bursting with antioxidants!  That also keeps our skin elastic and healthy looking.  We need a continuous supply of this vitamin, so it is crucial to include in our diet.

Pumpkins are a good source of potassium and fiber.  Pumpkins are also naturally sodium free and low in calories.  It is a heart friendly food too.  And since studies show that canned pumpkin has all of the health benefits that fresh pumpkin does,  there is no reason not to jump on this bandwagon!

Okay, now on to the fun stuff.  Recipes!  Oh, I looked at them all!  Appetizers, desserts, pumpkin dice, pumpkin pureé, pumpkin seeds.  At first I was amazed that pumpkin is so versatile.  Thrilled, in fact, by the possibilities.  But in the end I followed my affinity for grilling and pizza to my very own pumpkin heaven.  Yup.  I made grilled pumpkin pizza.  And it was delish!

I did two pizzas.  One pizza had pumpkin puree as the sauce, and a second with pumpkin chunks as a topping.  Here is what I did.

I bought 2 “sugar” pumpkins, or pie pumpkins, a smaller variety. I cut them in half, took out the seeds and strings, placed the cut side down on a baking sheet, and roasted them in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes.  I pulled them out, turned them open side up, and let them cool.  I could then easily cut the skin away.

2 small sugar pumpkins, roasted and cut out of their skin.

Next, I cut the meat of one pumpkin into a small dice, and the other one I used for the puree.  The puree was intended to be a pizza sauce, so I wanted it thick.  I blended the pumpkin meat for the sauce with a little butter and milk until it was a good space consistency.  Then I tossed in a smidgen of salt and pepper.  That is it. Simple.

I started by grilling 2 pizza crusts on the grill.  After pulling the 2 pizza crusts off the grill, I met Denis at the island in the kitchen.  Denis and I discussed toppings, seasonings, flavors, and technique ahead of time.  We had a blast loading up our pizza pies!  For the toppings of the first pizza, we decided on goat cheese, grilled ham, and pesto to add to our pumpkin sauce.

Pumpkin pizza. This pizza has half pesto sauce and half pumpkin sauce. Next, we threw some savory toppings on!

The other pizza had diced pumpkin on it.  Since pumpkin is so moist, sauce wasn’t necessary on this pizza.  It was just the pizza crust and toppings.  Two pizzas, 1 with pumpkin sauce and one with pumpkin chunks as a topping.  Very different consistencies, mouth feel, and taste sensations.  Both were very pleasant, and had the essence of fall.   These pizzas certainly elicited some moanable moments while being taste tested!

Now it’s your turn.  Get some pumpkins.  Cook them up.  Develop your own recipes,  Mix diced pumpkin with pasta, puree with bread.  Pumpkin risotto.  Pumpkin pancakes.  How many other things can you think of?  For me, this is simply a jumping off point with so many places to go with pumpkin.  Denis is a genius at soups, so I know that an amazingly delicious pumpkin soup is in our future.  Any way you make it, start having fun with this nutrition packed food.  Pumpkin is the new bacon?  It sure is-minus the fat, but with all the flavor!

Love. The real soul food.

31 Aug

School is back in session.  Football has started.  That means one thing…summer is rolling into fall.  When seasons change, it’s a new beginning of sorts.  Mother Nature freshens up her Earth.  Time to refresh the soul as well. I reflect on the past, and think about how to improve my future. My journey to love, loyalty, forgiveness, and appreciation continues, as does the journey to discover myself. A goal for my journey is to make it a joyful one. As I sit back and marvel at the obstacles I have overcome and the resulting  strength that has grown within, gratitude washes over me.  So I must say thank you.  Again and again.  There is no denying the gifts.

Thank you to those who told me I couldn’t. From you I am learning that I can.

Thank you to those who gossiped. From you I am learning how to hold my friends dear, and how important it is to keep my mouth shut.

Thank you to those with no faith. From you I am learning that God is central in my life, and that my faith runs deep.

Thank you to those who told me that I am weak. From you I am learning inner strength and confidence. You allow me to dig down to discover that I am stronger than I ever imagined.

Thank you to those that told me I was ugly. From you I am finding my inner beauty.

Thank you to those that put up barriers in my life. From you, I am learning to tear down walls and fight for what I want.

Thank you to those who told me that I am not a good mother. From you I am learning that my commitment to motherhood is beautifully imperfect, and perfectly loving.

Thank you to those that put me second (or more accurately third, fourth or fifth) . From you I am learning that God puts me first.

Thank you to those who are loud and demand attention. From you I am learning the value of being quiet.

Thank you to those who create drama in my life. From you I am learning to truly appreciate peace.

Thank you to those who have that overpowering sense of entitlement. From you I am learning to humble, see the good, and appreciate the little things.

Thank you to those who told me to quit. From you I am learning perseverance.

Thank you to those who brag. From you I learning to be modest.

Thank you to those that lied to me. From you I am learning the importance of the truth.

Thank you to those who are false and phony. From you I am learning the importance of being genuine.

Thank you to the people who showed me kindness not because I am needy but because you are good. Thank you to those who extended generosity, for you have enabled me to more openly give to others. Thank you for those with whom I share friendship, prayerful faith, and comforting touch not only in times of need, but in all times.

Thank you for those of you that protect me not because I am weak but because you are loyal. Thank you to those that share their strength with me when I have none. For you give me the power to be a pillar of strength to someone else. Because of you I can extend the generous love you have shown me to others. After all, it is in giving that we receive.

I am no different from anyone else. I have been hurt. I have felt the pain of deceit, the heart break of cruel disloyalty, and the sting of failure. From that I rise up.  I give thanks to those by my side, and for those that have turned against me. From everyone whose life has touched mine, I continue to learn to love. It is easy to be thankful for the great people in your life and to love them. The challenge lies in loving and learning from those that hurt us.

This blog addresses mostly food. Today it is about fruits. The fruits of the spirit. Food for the soul.  After all, we should strive for progress, not perfection.

Breakfast-A New Idea

19 Jun

Guess what?  I had the most wonderful breakfast this morning, and it came about quite unexpectedly. That made it all the more special!  Since it is a weekday, I enjoyed my breakfast in my office when I got to work.  Folks popped in to say good morning, I pursued my emails and began a planning a presentation I am giving at a meeting next week.  All while slowly eating my delicious breakfast.  Why did I was slowly?  Let me tell you.

Your mother was right.  Really?  Did I just say that?  Sure did.  What was mom right about?  Besides just about every thing?  (Haha!  I can say that because I am a mom, and moms enjoy being right occasionally!) Your mother was right when she saw you wolfing your food way too fast and told you to slow down.  Eating slowly really is best for you.  Why?

Chewing food, called mastication (no naughty jokes please), is an important but often rushed part of digestion.  Chewing starts saliva flowing, crucial for digestion, and can strengthen the jaw muscles.  Also, the “full” signal to your brain takes about 20 minutes, so chewing and swallowing slowly means being more in tune with your “fullness” signals.  In other words, that helps in natural portion control.  Fullness is actually two fold: the stomach fills and the brain signals fullness.  Best to have those working in tandem and eating slowly helps that process stay more aligned with one another.

Its easy to see why eating fast can mean eating more.  But there is another compelling reason to eat more slowly.  It can quiet the mind.  You can actually feel more relaxed and satisfied with your meal if you partake in mindful eating.  To savor your food and better enjoy your dining companions, slow down.

But let’s get back to the weekday morning breakfast that I was slowly enjoying in my office.  When leaving for work, I grabbed some leftover quinoa, blueberries, and greek yogurt out of the fridge.  I went ahead and mixed them together for a powerhouse breakfast.  It was delicious!  Nutrient dense, low calorie, and loaded with flavor and texture.  And I ate it slowly…

Blueberries and quinoa.  A great start...

Blueberries and quinoa. A great start…

Then I tossed them into my yogurt.  It was super yummy!

Then I tossed them into my yogurt. It was super yummy!

 

Dangerous Dehydration

15 May

The weather is warming up.  Spring is here and we are on the march toward summer and hot weather.  Water. H2O. Hydration. We have all heard that we need to drink water. 8 glasses a day in fact. But where is “glass”  or portion really defined? And what else counts as water? Does the water in our morning coffee factor into our “8 a day”, or the water in the bunch of grapes that we ate for an afternoon snack? There are many answers here, but lets ponder water for a moment.

The body uses water for cell function and is essential for every thing that the body does. It is well known that for optimal health benefits, the body needs to stay hydrated throughout the day.   Our body needs water, uses water, has water in its systems and cells for function. But it does not have any way to efficiently store water for long term usage. That is why we must pace our intake, and make sure that our intake is continuous. That can be complicated for some people though.  Some people just don’t like water.

I am a big water drinker, but my mom does not like the taste of water.  So she mixes water with other beverages, such as juice, to keep herself hydrated and healthy.  Listening to your body is crucial when focusing on good health. And so is common sense. Drink water throughout the day. If you are feeling thirsty or your mouth feels dry, chances are you are already heading toward dehydration.

To those folks that really don’t enjoy drinking water, eat some foods that are high in water content. Most fruit has a high water content, so munch on melon, grapes, or citrus fruit to help stay refreshed throughout the day. Watch the junky, sugary, and carbonated drinks.  Yes, your morning coffee or tea count.  So does your food.  Your body accepts and uses all kinds of fluids in drinks and natural foods, so as we march toward summer, march toward better health by sipping away all day!

Surviving Morning (C)rush

25 Feb

Any busy parent has been stuck in what I call “The Morning Crush”.  We get caught up in finding this, grabbing that, scheduling this, signing that.  Find a coat.  Pack up lunch.  Locate the car keys.  Take the dog out.  Yup, mornings are busy.  But they are survivable.  It does take some planning and organization though.  But any parent with kids, a job, multiple schedules, taxi duty, and household management duties can do it.  In fact, planning and organization makes mornings a bit of a breeze sometimes.  As with anything, practice is key here.  You get better with experience.

Making one change at a time is a good way to make positive changes work for the long-term.  Let’s begin with a good hot nutritious breakfast.  Made fast.  Loaded with vitamins, minerals, and goodness.  And super easy.  Just pull it out of the fridge, heat it up, and enjoy.  Impossible you say?  Nope, not at all.  With a little advance planning and prep, weekday morning breakfast will be a snap.

My secret weapon here is oatmeal.  Made ahead of time, my oatmeal will keep in the fridge, and can even be frozen.  It is quick to reheat on a busy morning, and a healthy way to begin any day.  And for those of you with a sweet tooth, you can add in fresh or dried fruit to sweeten this without sugar.  The possibilities are endless with the add ins to make my oatmeal into your oatmeal.  Just toss in what you have around, within reach, and bammo!  You have a powerhouse start to your day in minutes.

I make oatmeal with quinoa.  Why add quinoa to oatmeal?  Well, first of all, it is a good way to add another whole grain to your diet.  Second, quinoa is a complete protein.  Third, this pumped up oatmeal is stick to your ribs and will really hold off hunger and temptation for the entire morning.  Quinoa is also a good source of iron and fiber.  I like to make a big batch of quinoa and keep extra in the fridge.  In addition to adding it to oatmeal, I also add it to, for example, roasted veggies for an easy side dish for supper.  But back to oatmeal.  Let me share my pumped up oatmeal recipe for you to try.

Do Ahead:  Make a large batch of quinoa.  Cool and keep cooked quinoa in the fridge.

Amy’s Pumped Up Oatmeal

  • 2 cups skim milk (may substitute with almond or soy milk if desired)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups oatmeal
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • dried fruit like raisins, and/or 1 banana to add, sliced, at serving time (avoid if watching sugar intake. Dried fruits are high in sugar.)
  • nuts or seeds, like sunflower or almonds, to add at serving time

Combine water and milk in a saucepan over medium high heat.  When boiling, add oatmeal and cinnamon, stir, and turn heat down so the oatmeal simmers uncovered.  Cook for 5 minutes.  Stir in quinoa.  Continue cooking until desired doneness, about another 5 minutes, stirring as needed.  Remove from heat.  Portion in 6 ounce serving size and refrigerate or freeze.  Easy tip:  Freeze in muffin tin.  Pop out to heat and serve.

When ready to prepare, remove number of portions needed from fridge or freezer and place in separate bowls.  Add 1 T. water and microwave for 2-3 minutes.  Stir and add fruit, nuts, and/or seeds.  Enjoy a super fast, easy, and nutritious breakfast.  This is a terrific recipe to customize for preferences.  I have had this breakfast, and it has lasted through morning crush, a tough workout, and a busy morning at work.

There you go.  One step toward making morning crush more manageable.  And a way to start your day off with a solid healthy breakfast!  Go ahead.  Get going.  There is nothing stopping you.  Bon appetite!