Friday, December 11, 2009


When they came out with the food pyramid, they recommended that we eat a rainbow of foods. I don't think they meant that you should eat anything colorful, but rather things that are NATURALLY colored. I have only become concerned about food coloring in my food over the last couple of years. Luckily, since before this I was concerned with high-fructose corn syrup and trans fats in my foods, I also avoided most food that had food coloring in them.

In a double blind British study done in 2007, food coloring additives were linked to increased hyperactivity in kids that were not diagnosed with ADD. Previous studies have been done which linked food coloring additives to increased hyperactivity with kids who were diagnosed with ADD. Follow this link to a summary of the British study done in 2007. I was a bit surprised when I was talking to my husband who is a psychiatrist, when he said that links to food coloring and hyperactivity in children were found in multiple studies.

Over the last year or two, we have worked hard to get food coloring out of our house. To give you an example of how much of our food is tainted with these food coloring additives, I looked up one of the food dyes that was in the study noted above. According to Wikipedia, Sunset Yellow, aka, orange yellow S, aka yellow 6, is found in the following kinds of foods: It may be found in orange squash, orange jelly, marzipan, Swiss roll, apricot jam, citrus marmalade, lemon curd,sweets, hot chocolate mix and packet soups, trifle mix, breadcrumbs and cheese sauce mix and soft drinks. Specifically it can be found in the capsules of DayQuil (in high concentrations), some extra strength Tylenol, Astro peach yogurt (potentially others), fortune cookies, some red sauces, certain pound cakes, snack chips and other yellow, orange, and red food products.

At first, my research lead me to believe that yellow 6 and others were going to be taken out of the food supply by 2009. I almost stopped writting this post, but then I decided to grab a snack. I chose baked cheetos. I had bought them at Target out of sypathy for my 3 children I left at home while I shopped. (Why is it that we think it is a good "treat" to give our kids "junk" for behaving!) I just looked at the ingredient list and saw at the bottom, yellow 5 and yellow 6. My Cheetos didn't expired until 2010, so I started investigating again. It looks like the EU asked for a volantary removal of the colors by 2009, and the US well . . .I couldn't find anything about it being removed. Before you move on, you may want to view this commercial that just shows how unnatural these food colorings are

I found on the FDA's website the aproved food coloring additives:

D&C Blue Nos. 1 and 2
FD&C Green No. 3
FD&C Red Nos. 3 and 40
FD&C Yellow Nos. 5 and 6
Orange B
Citrus Red No. 2
annatto extract
grape skin extract
cochineal extract or carmine
paprika oleoresin
caramel color
fruit and vegetable juices
(Note: Exempt color additives are not required to be declared by name on labels but may be declared simply as colorings or color added).

Half of the food coloring additives tested in the British study are currently approved for consumption in the United States. In the study, the full names of the food additives are used. These are the names that are usually listed on the ingredients list. Red 3, yellow 6, and Red 40. While these were the ones studied that are in our food supply, I am sure that we should assume that other food coloring additive are not safe as well. It would be the best decision to look at ingredient lists and try to avoid buying foods with any food coloring additives (something with a # behind it especially). Because you do not need a lot of food coloring in a food, most of the time, the food coloring will be at the bottom of the ingredient list (since they have to put the ingredients in order by weight).

You should be in the habit of reading ingredients of food. This may seem tedius, but as you do this, you will learn which foods are healthy, and then it will take less time. I also look out for foods that have trans fats (hydrogenated blah blah blah) and foods that have high-fructose corn syrup in them.

As a general rule, easy ways to avoid foods with food coloring additives in them is to buy lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, organic foods, and whole foods. Whole foods are foods that come from their original state. This would include fruits, veggies, raw nuts, whole wheat flour, milk, cheese, and fresh meat (not cold cuts). These are foods that we need to be eating more of. Also, if a food is blue, or purple, and is not a fruit or vegetable, it probably has food coloring in it. Organic foods typically use beet juice or other vegetable juices for their food coloring effects. These seem to be safe.

Dr. Sears recommends that you teach your children when you grocery shop with them. Teach them that the healthiest foods are kept on the perimeters of the grocery store. In general, the middle section of the grocery store has the most processed foods. Also teach your children that bright colored boxes are there to trick you into buying them. They know that their food is unhealthy, so they try to get you to buy it by making their boxes look pretty.

Recently my husband and I noticed that pickles all have food coloring in them. Claussen's pickles do NOT. They can be found in the refridgerated section.

One other study in 1994 found this conclusion about tartrazine (yellow #5): Behavioral changes in irritability, restlessness, and sleep disturbance are associated with the ingestion of tartrazine in some children. See this link to see the full abstract.

Before I end, consider for a moment how you would be willing to pay for your child to have a tutor when they are behind in school, yet how often are we unwilling to pay the 40 cents more for a product that is a healthier option?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Kashi Frozen Waffles with homemade strawberry syrup

Kashi has come up with a very healthy frozen waffle that even taste good. I found them at Costco. They are about .25 cents each. They are the Strawberry Flax kind. In each waffle you will find, :

4 g protien
3 g fiber
80 calories
2.5 g sugar
500 mg Omega-3

My families favorite way to eat them is with homemade strawberry syrup. That sounds hard to make, but it is soooo easy!

Strawberry Syrup

3 Cups frozen strawberries (you can use fresh too)
1-2 T sugar

Put frozen strawberries in the microwave for about 3 minutes. Put thawed strawberries in your blender with sugar and blend until smooth. That is it!

This gives your kids the extra fiber from the strawberries and it has a lot less sugar in it.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sunday Dinner- Turkey Meatloaf

I wasn't sure I was going to be able to make dinner, since I had a migraine earlier today. Thank goodness for medicine. Can you imagine what people did before it? I have been excited all week to make this turkey meatloaf. The only thing I would do different is make the onions smaller. Next time I will chopped them in my vitamix blender. You add some water, turn it on, and then drain the water off.

Low-fat Turkey Meatloaf-

1 medium onion- chopped fine
2 minced garlic cloves
1 t veg. oil
1/2 milk or plain yogurt
2 large eggs
2 t minced fresh thyme leaves (I left this out)
2 t dijon mustard
2 t worcestershre sauce
1/4 t hot pepper sauce
1/2 t ground black pepper
2 pounds 93% lean ground turkey (I bought 1 pound ground turkey breast and 1 pound regular)
1 1/3 cups fresh bread crumbs (just throw some whole wheat bread in the toaster, and chop it up)
1/4 C minced fresh parsley leaves (I didn't have it, so I left it out)

For sauce

1/2 Cup ketchup
1/4 Cup packed light brown sugar
4 teaspoons cider or white vinegar

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine onion, garlic, oil and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a medium skillet. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the onion has softened, 8 to 10 minutes; set aside to cool. In a medium bowl whisk the milk, eggs, thyme, mustard, Worcestershire, hot sauce, pepper, and 1/4 T salt together.
In a large bowl, mix the turkey, bread crumbs, parsley, cooked onion mixture, and egg mixture together with your hands until combined. Press mixture together forming a 9 x 6 inch rectangle that is 2 inches high. Place on rimmed baking sheet that is lined with foil. Mix ketchup, brown sugar and vinegar together. Put 1/2 of sauce on top of meatloaf and bake for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, put the remaining sauce on top and cook for an additional 15 minutes.

Green salad with oranges, pinenuts and browned goat cheese

1 head of washed and chopped romaine lettuce
1 handful of pinenutes
3 ounces of goat cheese- brown in a fry pan until melted
1 small orange (I would use pear or craisins next time)

Balsamic dressing

3 T olive oil
1 1/2 t balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 t red wine vinegar
1/2 t salt

Petite Peas- From the freezer. There is one piece of advice that my Mom gave me before leaving for college (I am sure she said more than this, but this is all I can remember): "Remember that it is petite peas that you like, not regular." I had to ask her what she she was talking about. Petite peas are picked sooner. They are kinda like baby peas. They taste much sweeter. I bought the regular ones once, and my Mom was right; I only like the petite ones.

French Bread- store bought loaf

Picture for Cheesy Veggie Soup

I never posted a picture for you to get excited about the Vegetable Cheese Soup. Here is a picture, and the recipe again.

Vegetable Cheese Soup

1 small bunch broccoli, cut in small pieces

1 onion, diced

1 cup diced carrots

1 cup diced potato

1 cup cauliflower, cut into bite size pieces

2 10 ¾ ounce cans chicken broth

2 tsp or cubes bouillon

2 cups milk

¼ cup flour

3 cups grated Cheddar cheese (or less)

1 tsp dry mustard

1/8 tsp cayenne

In a large pan, combine diced vegetables, bouillon and broth (I reserve broccoli tops and add towards the end). Simmer for 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender. In a medium bowl, mix milk with flour; blend until smooth. Gradually add milk mixture to vegetables, stirring constantly. Add grated cheese, dry mustard and cayenne pepper. Simmer until cheese melts.

I usually double this recipe.

Quick Fact: I was watching the Dr. Oz show the other night while folding laundry, and he said that broccoli helps detoxify the liver.

Hot Dogs for dinner?

Reid was back from Flordia on Friday night, so he gave me the day off on Sat. Amanda and I went to go see planet 51, and Reid took care of the rest of the kids and made dinner. So what was for dinner? Nitrate free hot dogs on a slice of whole wheat bread, and broccoli with cheese sauce.

Nitrate-free hot dogs- Reid found these at our regular grocery store. He even put them on the BBQ. I could only eat one bite, because the night before we watched the movie Food Inc. That movie will make you want to be a vegetarian. Good thing I didn't finish it! :) Click here to see my post on nitrates, and click here for another post on nitrate-free hot dogs.

Broccoli with Cheese Sauce- I think Reid makes his cheese sauce a little differently than I do, but the thing we do the same is make it from scratch. NO cheese whitz or velveeta. These are pasteurized process cheese products. They are not real cheese or real food.

2 Tablespoons butter
2 T flour
1 Cup of milk
2 Cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 t dried mustard
Salt and pepper

I am just making this recipe up. I never measure, so keep that in mind.

Melt butter in sauce pan. Add flour and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in milk I think it works better if you heat up the milk before you add it. Bring to a boil stirring frequently. Remove from heat and add cheese, salt, pepper and mustard.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Pork Tenderloin, roasted vegetables, and baked potatoes

One of the easiest things to make is a good pork tenderloin. It looks fancy, but it is really easy to make. Just be sure you buy enough, because it shrinks down a lot.

Pork Tenderloin

Heat a Tablespoon of canola oil in a frying pan. Salt and Pepper your pork tenderloin. Also, heat your oven to 450 degrees. Brown Pork in frying pan on all sides for about 10 minutes total. Put in a 9 x 13, or something similar and bake on 450 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Before putting in oven, put one of the following sauces on top. It will be pink in the middle. Be sure your meat thermometer reaches 135 degree before taking it out, and let it sit until it reaches 145 degree, or just cook it for the full 20 minutes in the oven.

Maple Glaze

1 1/4 Cups maple syrup (do not substitute fake syrup for this)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon cayenne


1 Cup apricot preserves
1/2 cup orange juice
3 Tablespoons juice from 1 lemon
1/4 Cup dried apricots quartered.

Sister Bowen's favorite Roasted Vegetables

I made a version of this last night. I left out the potatoes since we were having baked potatoes.

6 baby carrots, halved
3 small yokon gold potatoes
3 small parsnips
1 large sweet potato
1 each large red and yellow onion
1 each yellow and red sweet peppers
6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1/2 C chicken broth
2 TB olive oil
salt and pepper
2 TB balsamic vinegar
2-3 springs rosemary

Peel and cut into 1 -inch pieces: Yukon and sweet potatoes, and parsnips. Cut onions crosswise into halves, peel and keep the roots intact. Cut peppers lengthwise. In large shallow roasting pan, combine all of the veggies and the garlic. Drizzle mixture with broth and olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast uncovered in a 450 degree oven for 45 minutes, stirring veggies occasionally. Stir in balsamic vinegar and rosemary sprigs and roast 14 more minutes or until veggies are tender. Makes 6 servings.

Baked Potatoes

I didn't do it this way last night, but I like to wrap it in foil with a little drizzle of olive oil and season salt and bake in oven until soft. Just stick it in with the roasted veggies.

I wouldn't make this meal on a weeknight again. This is better for a weekend when you have more time.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

My Fav . . . Cafe Rio

Tonight I am planning on going to Cafe Rio. It is my favorite Mexican Restaurant. Reid is out of town, and it is my tradition to go out for dinner sometime while he is gone (after all, he is going out to dinner while he is gone:)

Cafe Rio has the most locations in UT. Click here to see their website and see if there is a location near you. Thursdays are my favorite day to go because the special of the day is tamales. I love their pork tamales. Some of my other favorites include the soup, pork salad, and chips and queso.

You can click on the soup and pork salad to get imitation recipes that are out of this world.

My kids love the burritos which have lots of beans in them.


This meal was very unexciting, but it still may give you a great idea.

Left over Rotissary Costco Chicken- I had bought this and used it in the chicken broccoli casserole. Just heated it up and served a little whole grain Grey Poupon.

Cheese Bread- A slice of cheese on a piece of whole wheat bread and put in the oven until the cheese is melted.

Broccoli- Steamed in the microwave.

Roasted Potatoes with some asparagus too. I saw this box of frozen diced up potatoes at Costco the other day and thought it would be fun to try. It was good enough to eat, but not good enough to buy again.

Left over Quinoa from the night before.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Salmon, Roasted Asparagus, and Corn and Jalopeno Quinoa

My parents always made us eat our fish growing up, claiming that it would make you smart. I really didn't believe them, but come to find out, it is TRUE! Here is a run down/reminder of all of the health benefits of Omega 3 Fatty Acids

  • Kids with ADHD- One study at Purdue University found that boys with ADHD had lower levels of omega-3 fats. The boys with the most abnormal behavior had the lowest levels of DHA, the main omega-3 fat found in fish.
  • Infant formula now has DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid. DHA is found in breast milk and helps with brain development.
  • Experimental animals whose diets are low in DHA have been found to have delayed brain development and smaller brains
  • Research shows that senior citizens who eat more fish are less likely to develop dementia
  • Research has also found a strong link to being happier with getting enough omega-3 fatty acids . . .ie. less depression.
  • Omega-3's help lower bad cholesterol and raise the good cholesterol.
  • Getting enough of the good kind of fat can help with dry flaky skin
If you want to read more, click here to read my post on fish oil.

Here are the recipes

Cajun Salmon

Put salmon on foil. Sprinkle a little Cajun spice, cumin, chili powder and salt on top of a salmon fillet. Broil on Low in oven for 10-20 minutes (depends on how thick it is).

Roasted Asparagus

This is my favorite way to eat asparagus. Trim a couple of inches off the bottom of the asparagus. Put asparagus on a cookie sheet that has edges. Drizzle 1 T of olive oil on top. With your hands, toss the asparagus until it is coated with the oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook in 450 degree oven for 8-10 minutes. You know it is ready when the ends start to look black.

Quinoa Pilaf with jalapenos and corn

This recipe is a little lengthy because it is from the cooks illustrated cook book.

Sorry, I thought I did a post on Quinoa, but looking back, I don't think I did. It is the only? vegetable (grain) that is a complete protein! Great thing to have for food storage, and it is great for the kids so they don't have to eat as much meat, which is better for the environment too, but that is a separate post.

2 Teaspoons olive oil
1 Cup corn (I used frozen)
1 medium onion, chopped fine
2 Cups quinoa
1 3/4 Cups chicken broth (I just used 1 can)
2 jalapeno chilies, seeds and ribs removed, then minced (I used one to be sure it wasn't spicy)
1/4 Cup fresh cilantro (I was out :(
2 teaspoons juice from 1 lime

Saute onion in the 2 teaspoons of oil with the lid on, stir occasionally for 5-8 minutes. Add quinoa and cook for about 5 minutes with the lids off, on medium heat. Add the chicken broth, corn, and the jalapeno pepper. Bring to a boil and then simmer with the lid on for about 20 minutes (like rice). Off the heat, add lime juice and cilantro. Each grain should look translucent with a little white part in it.

Costco carried quinoa for $10 a bag. I have had the same bag since the summer, so it gives you lots.

If everyone in your family likes corn, then double the corn you put in.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Grandma Sandy's Chicken Broccoli Casserole

This was a family favorite when I was growing up. Now my family loves it. Dallin and Amanda cheered last night when they found out what we were having. Emily doesn't like anything with sauce, so she was only excited when I picked the broccoli and chicken out of the sauce. Serve this with brown rice and a nice green salad. I have modified my Mom's original recipe to make it a little more healthy.

Chicken Broccoli Casserole

Cover the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan with bite size pieces of broccoli (about 2 cups) (I buy the big bag of pre-cut and washed broccoli from Costco. You still need to cut it up a bit.)

Put about 2 Cups, or 2 chicken breast of cooked chopped chicken on top of the broccoli

Mix in a bowl:

1/2 Cup lite Mayo
1 Can cream of chicken
1-2 teaspoons curry
1 T lemon juice

Put mixture on top of broccoli and chicken

Sprinkle with 1/2 Cup grated cheddar cheese

Sprinkle 1/2 bread crumbs on top of the cheese (just cut up some bread)

Drizzle 1 Tablespoon melted butter on top

Bake in 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Do longer if you like your broccoli mussy.

Serve over Brown rice

Spinach Salad with pears, pinenuts and white cheddar

2 Cups baby spinach
1 pears diced
1/4 Cup pinenuts toasted lightly (in a frying pan til you see brown on them)
Couple Tablespoons of roughly chopped aged white cheddar

Balsamic dressing

3 T olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix well and drizzle over salad just before serving (you may not need all of the dressing)

The week of meal ideas!

Are you tired of thinking of food ideas for your family? I am here to help! This week I am going to post each meal we eat, and along with it, I will give you tips on how to make your meals healthier for your kids. To start out, I wanted to share with you what we had last night. Orange Chicken and brown rice with stir fried veggies, and Asian salad.

First, the orange chicken. This is from a frozen box. It is from Costco, and it contains 2 packs of chicken. Just heat in 400 degree oven for 20 minutes and put sauce on top. It is called Mandarin Orange Chicken, By Crazy Cuizine. It is less than 30% fat (if you bake and not fry it). The ingredient pass my test (no trans fat or high-fructose corn syrup).

Before you cook the chicken, be sure you start your brown rice. Remember that brown rice takes a whole hour to cook! Do twice as much water as rice. I have tried brown rice in the rice cooker, and I have not gotten it to work. Any ideas?

Stir Fry

  • carrots
  • purple cabbage
  • purple onion
  • green beans (mine were frozen)
  • other veggies you have on hand (broccoli, asparagus, zucchini . . .)
Heat 1 T of canola oil in non-stick pan. Add carrots and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. Then add onions and cook 2 more minutes. Add green beans and cabbage and cook for 2 more minutes. Add about 1 Tablespoon of the orange sauce from the chicken packet.

Asian salad

  • Baby spinach (or any lettuce)
  • can of mandarin oranges
  • grated or slice carrots
  • purple onion (green onion is even better)
  • purple cabbage sliced thinly
  • (other things that go well are broccoli in small pieces, snow peas, and red pepper)
Make a dressing with about 3 T canola oil, 1 T rice wine vinegar, 1 T sugar, 1 t soy sauce, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Tip of the day:

When your kids want seconds of the yummy orange chicken, have them eat 3 bits of veggies first. Explain to your kids that you can eat something you don't like, and that it is good to try foods to be sure that you still don't like that food. Remember, you are in charge. Most of all, the parent also needs to finish their veggies before taking seconds of something. If your kids are out of the habit of asking before they take seconds, keep the non-veggies off of the table and up at the counter so you have more control.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Cheesy Vegetable Soup

This has been a family favorite for years. It is a great way to get your kids to eat veggies that they normally don't like (unless they are like Emily, she only likes veggies plain with no sauce on them). I got this recipe from my mother-in-law. It is very fast and easy to make.

Vegetable Cheese Soup

1 small bunch broccoli, cut in small pieces

1 onion, diced

1 cup diced carrots

1 cup diced potato

1 cup cauliflower, cut into bite size pieces

2 10 ¾ ounce cans chicken broth

2 tsp or cubes bouillon

2 cups milk

¼ cup flour

3 cups grated Cheddar cheese (or less)

1 tsp dry mustard

1/8 tsp cayenne

In a large pan, combine diced vegetables, bouillon and broth (I reserve broccoli tops and add towards the end). Simmer for 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender. In a medium bowl, mix milk with flour; blend until smooth. Gradually add milk mixture to vegetables, stirring constantly. Add grated cheese, dry mustard and cayenne pepper. Simmer until cheese melts.

I usually double this recipe

Sorry there is no picture. I will make it again this week and add it.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Healthy Fries

I love these Potato Fries. They are easy to make, but they do take some time to bake. Tonight we are having Turkey burgers and these homemade fries. The recipe isn't exact, so feel free to use your imagination.

Uses about 1 medium potato per person.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

Wash potatoes

Slice potatoes length-wise into 8 wedges (leave skin on)

Put potato wedges in a bowl. Drizzle on about 2 Tablespoons olive oil or canola oil and toss to coat.

Sprinkle with the following seasonings:

  • Garlic Powder
  • Paprika
  • Rosemary
  • Onion Powder
  • Season Salt
  • Salt if you don't do season salt
  • Pepper
Bake in 450 degree oven for about 30-40 minutes (until baked through). Serve with ketchup. My kids love these. Hope your kids do too!

Lay potatoes in a row on a baking sheet skin side down.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween Candy

I imagine that your house is like mine right now. . . Candy everywhere! I came up with one fun thing to do with your Candy this year that does not involve hiding it, or eating it. I got this idea from one of my favorite magazines, Family Fun. What is it? You experiment with it! Use any candy that your kids don't like, or they are willing to play with instead of eat. We mostly microwaved them to see what they looked like melted (it reminded me of that baby shower game where you guess the melted candy bar in the diaper). Dallin added milk to his, and Emily added water to hers. They had fun doing it. Now I just need to come up with more games. Maybe I can see if they want to see who can throw the candy off the deck the farthest? What are some of your ideas. Leave a comment.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


I remember that as a kid I had a hard time saying the word cinnamon.  I also didn't learn how to spell it for years, but that is because I am terrible at spelling!

My old roommate Jennie (that really is how you spell her name, it isn't my terrible spelling:) commented on my last blog post about what she could eat with cinnamon in it.  I thought I would do a blog post with some of my favorite recipes with cinnamon in them.  

  • Cinnamon and Sugar-  I have two of the Pampered Chef shakers.  I use one for my cinnamon and sugar mixture and the other one for my powdered sugar.  My husband likes his cinnamon and sugar mixture with a lot more cinnamon than I was used to, but now I like more cinnamon as well.  So my first recipe is to increase the cinnamon and decrease your sugar in your cinnamon and sugar shaker.  I use about 1 part cinnamon to 3 parts sugar (maybe more cinnamon than that).  I put cinnamon and sugar on toast, hot cereal, and a dash on top of my hot chocolate with fresh cream.  We also get out the shaker for crepes.

  • Eat more Indian and Morracan food.  They use a lot of cinnamon in Africa, and India.  Some of my favorite recipes include, Morracan CousCous, and Spiced up Basmatti Rice.  My sister Candee (I bring her up a lot, she must be opinionated :) doesn't think cinnamon belongs in a dish unless it is a sweet dish, but if you can convince your taste buds otherwise, you will be grateful later on.  Most Indian food also has curry in it.  Curry is a blend of spices.  Studies have found that the spices in curry, especially turmeric,  are very good for you.

Moroccan Chicken Stew RECIPE INGREDIENTS:

1 tablespoon oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3 whole cloves
2 bay leaves
2 cups chicken broth
4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 3/4 to 1 pound)
1 (14.5-ounce) can whole tomatoes with juice
1 large carrot, sliced
1 1/2 cups green beans, snapped into smaller pieces
1 small summer squash, quartered and and cut into large chunks
1 (15.5-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup golden raisins

2 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
2 cups couscous

1. In a Dutch oven or large (8-quart) pot, heat the oil over medium heat for 1 or 2 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and saute them until the onion is translucent, about 2 minutes. Stir in the turmeric, cinnamon, cloves, and bay leaves and cook the mixture for 2 to 3 minutes. (I have also done it all in a crock pot)
2. Add the chicken broth, chicken thighs, and tomatoes and bring the stew to a boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer the stew with the pot covered for 25 minutes. 
3. Stir in the carrots, green beans, squash, chickpeas, and salt. Cook, covered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and using the edge of the spoon to break the chicken and tomato chunks into smaller pieces. 
4. Add the raisins. Turn the heat back up to medium and continue simmering the covered stew until the vegetables are tender (10 or so minutes more). Add more salt, if desired. Ladle the stew into shallow bowls around a mound of couscous. Serves 4 to 6. 
5. To make the couscous, combine the broth and water in a saucepan and bring them to a boil. Quickly stir in the couscous. Remove the pan from the heat and let it sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff the couscous with a fork before serving. 

Sultana & Cashew Basmati Pilau

I just bought a massive bag of basmati rice from costco that I’ve been dying to try out.  And this was totally experimental, because I made this dish in the rice maker.  Basically, I just followed the rice maker’s guidelines of 2 cups rice and 2.5 cups water:

2 cups basmati rice, rinsed and soaked for a bit, then drained of course

2.5 cups chicken broth

1 cinnamon stick

1 handful of cashews

1 handful of raisins (golden are best, but I just had regular and it was fine)

1 handful of slivered almonds (I chopped up some whole almonds)

a couple spoonfuls of garam masala (from the store or make it yourself.. mine had coriander, tumeric, cumin, fenugreek and chillies)

some more tumeric

a little oil for good measure (I did a couple teaspoons of canola oil.. butter works too)

That’s about it. I just threw it all in the rice maker and hit the white rice button, but you could accomplish this by throwing it all in a pot on the stove and cooking it like any old rice dish (although you may want to get fancy and saute the rice and some spices a little in oil or butter first)

  • You can always stick with the sweet stuff.  I am going to share with you my all time favorite cookie recipe.  I can't believe I am doing this, but oh well.  They are called cinnamon crackle cookies, and I am sure that with all the sugar and butter found in them, that the health benefits of cinnamon is canceled out.  

1/2 C butter
½ C shortening (I use butter)
1 C sugar
½ C packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 t vanilla extract
½ t almond extract
2 ½ C all-purpose flour
1 Tbs ground cinnamon
2 t baking soda
2 t cream of tartar
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
2 t grated orange peel
1 t grated lemon peel
½ t salt
additional sugar

In a mixing bowl, cream butter, shortening and sugars.
Add the egg and extracts; mix well. Combine the next eight
ingredients; gradually add to the creamed mixture. Shape
into 1” balls; roll in sugar. Place 2 in. apart on un-greased
baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-14 minutes or until
lightly browned. Yield: about 6 dozen. These cookies freeze
well. (I only cook about 8 minutes because I like them softer)

  • Anytime a recipe calls for cinnamon, add a little bit more.  As long as it isn't too much, I doubt you will notice.  
Hope this helps you out Jennie.  

Friday, September 18, 2009

Pumpkin Pancakes

Someone on facebook (thanks Corinne) gave me the idea of pumpkin pancakes.  I had made pumpkin chocolate chip bread, and I had left over canned pumpkin.  With one jar of pumpkin I made

  • 2 loafs pumpkin chocolate chip bread
  • baby food with pumpkin, applesauce and a dash of cinnamon
  • baby food with pumpkin, plain yogurt and a dash of pumpkin pie spice
  • pumpkin pancakes
I used a recipe from  It turned out really well.  I used 1/2 whole wheat, but I think next time I would just do all whole wheat.  

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (I used 1/2 whole wheat)
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
The thing I love about making pancakes is that you just throw all the ingredients together and mix it up.  You don't need a mixer, and you really don't need to have any order to putting the ingredients in (I am sure some people would disagree:)

I was talking to my sister-in-law Katy yesterday, and I was telling her about the pumpkin applesauce baby food with a dash of cinnamon.  I mentioned that I did the cinnamon because it is so good for you.  She didn't know this, so I thought this blog post would be the perfect time to talk about the benefits of cinnamon.

Did you know?

  • Cinnamon has some effects of how your body regulates blood sugar?  Several studies have shown improved insulin sensitivity and blood glucose control with as little as 1/2 teaspoon a day. Both test tube and animal studies have shown that compounds in cinnamon not only stimulate insulin receptors, but also inhibit an enzyme that inactivates them, thus significantly increasing cells’ ability to use glucose. It is great for diabetics, and for those of us that don't want to get diabetes.
  • Cinnamon has also been shown to have positive effects on cholesterol.  One study had 60 people with type 2 diabetes take 1, 3, or 6 grams of cinnamon in pill form daily, an amount roughly equivalent to one quarter of a teaspoon to 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.After 40 days, all 3 amounts of cinnamon reduced fasting blood glucose by 18 to 29%, triglycerides by 23 to 30%, LDL cholesterol by 7 to 27%, and total cholesterol by 12 to 26%.
  • Cinnamon has some anti-bacterial effects preventing food spoilage.
  • In one fun (but unpublished) study, researchers found that sniffing cinnamon resulted in improved brain function -– subjects did better on memory and attention tasks when taking whiffs of cinnamon as opposed to other odors or no odor.  So maybe baking while your kids do homework would help.
  • Cinnamon also has anti-fungal effects and can be beneficial in treating a yeast infection or thrush.  (I am not sure how true this one is, but I read it a couple times)
  • Cinnamon has magnesium, fiber, calcium, and iron in it.  
  • Cinnamon seems to have some anti-inflammatory effects as well.  In a study at Copenhagen University, patients given half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder combined with one tablespoon of honey every morning before breakfast had significant relief in arthritis pain after one week and could walk without pain within one month.
  • People have traditionally used cinnamon for digestive problems, although I didn't find any studies to support this.  
The funniest part about this blog post is that the recipe doesn't even have cinnamon in it!  So I guess, throw some in for good measure!

I bought the big thing of cinnamon that is in the picture for $3.00 at Costco!  What a great deal.  Next time you are at Costco, be sure to pick some up.  

Final note.  So sorry I haven't blogged for so long.  I moved about 3 weeks ago and was just trying to settle into the new house.