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Posts Tagged ‘Thanksgiving’

Pumpkins are a favorite for indoor and outdoor decorating in the fall. My daughter often saves those in her fall décor for me to salvage and use in many savory dishes. While pumpkins add a festive touch at Halloween and throughout the fall, some of us think more about eating them.

Pumpkins are a member of the winter squash family. Their name evolved from the Ancient Greek word pepon meaning melon. After a few derivations, the English colonies called them pumpkins. Most are deep yellow or orange although recent varieties may range from white to dark green. They are one of the oldest known domesticated plants dating back as early as 7,500 to 5,000 BC. While pumpkins are grown almost worldwide, they are native to northeastern Mexico and the southern United States. Today, Illinois produces about 95 percent of the annual US crop with Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and California also top pumpkin-producing states.

Pumpkins are loaded with nutrients. Although 92 percent water, they are great sources of fiber and vitamin A. They also contain the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin which are thought to help prevent cataracts.

When I don’t receive these colorful decorations from my daughter, I find large selections at cheap, cheap prices after Halloween. Pumpkin can readily be cooked and frozen for many dishes. When they are long gone on the market, pull a package from the freezer and use in many tasty recipes.

Don’t be intimidated by cooking this large vegetable. Wash the outside of the pumpkin thoroughly. We don’t know how many hands and other things have touched it. For best results, follow these guidelines.

  • Preheat oven to 350oF.
  • Place pumpkin, stem end up, on a steady flat surface.
  • With a sharp kitchen knife, cut pumpkin down from the stem all around.
  • Divide pumpkin into halves and scoop out seeds and pulp. Seeds can be saved for toasting.
  • When cleaned, rub inside and cut surfaces lightly with olive oil.
  • Place pieces face down on a roasting pan. Add about ½ to 1 inch of water to the pan to prevent drying.
  • Bake for about 90 minutes or until flesh is tender when pricked with a fork.
  • Remove from oven and cool.
  • Scrape pulp into a bowl. Use a stick blender or regular blender to make flesh smooth and free of lumps.
  • Refrigerate and allow to drain in the container for about two hours. Because of its high-water content, baked food products may have better quality if thoroughly drained. After using the amount desired for your cooking spree, freeze any remaining pumpkin within a few days.
  • Use fresh pumpkin in the same proportion as canned. One 15-ounce purchased can is equivalent to about 1 ¾ cup.

Thanksgiving is noted for its pumpkin pie. Compared to the competition of pecan pie and other calorie laden desserts, it is much lower in calories. We prefer pumpkin pie with such additions as almonds, whipped cream, or other ingredients that add calories. Many, like my daughter, prefer it plain, which makes it much lower in calories than most any holiday dessert .

We enjoy baked pumpkin pie, but the family favorite is my pumpkin bread. I bake loaves and freeze them for future use. However, should we run low, we have a backup of frozen to make more. Below is the recipe.

PUMPKIN BREAD

1 ½                  cup brown sugar

1 ½                  cup white sugar

1                      cup vegetable oil

¾                     cup orange juice

4                      eggs

2                      cups canned or fresh pumpkin

3 ½                  cups all-purpose flour

2                      teaspoons soda

1 ½                  teaspoons salt

1                      teaspoon nutmeg

1                      teaspoon cinnamon

1                      cup raisins

1                      cup pecans, chopped

Combine all dry ingredients. Mix oil and sugars thoroughly, add eggs one at a time, mixing after each. Add pumpkin. Beginning with dry ingredients, add alternately with orange juice to pumpkin mixture. Fold in raisins and pecans. Spray loaf pans with cooking spray and fill half full of mixture. Bake at 350o F. for 45 minutes or until done.

Hint: Measure several batches of dry ingredients (flour, soda, salt, spices) and place each in a Ziploc or plastic sandwich bag. Close tightly, label, and date. I do this even days or weeks before I plan to bake. Saves so much time when collecting and combining ingredients.

If you haven’t already, try cooking a fresh pumpkin this fall. It’s such a versatile vegetable to include in many recipes, and it’s great heated plain with a little butter and brown sugar or sorghum molasses added. Yummy!

Free happy thanksgiving clipart - Clipartix

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With the year swiftly drawing to a close, we pause each November to reflect on and enjoy time with family and friends. The focus of celebrating Thanksgiving often centers on food, lots of food. Who can resist the urge to overeat? Tables piled high with turkey, stuffing, and all the trimmings followed by scrumptious, calorie-laden desserts even tempt those with strong will-power. Is there any hope of enjoyment without tripling the calorie count for the day? How do we cut calories?

We aren’t likely to leave the dinner table hungry, and most of us will feel overstuffed and uncomfortable. For the calorie-conscience, we can choose better options. The Men’s Health magazine published “10 ways to Shave 1,200 Calories off your Thanksgiving.” Here is the modified version:

  • Choose white meat of turkey instead of the dark. Dark meat contains more calories, and some of us prefer the white meat anyway.
  • Exchange bread servings for extra vegetables. Choose vegetables without extra toppings or creamed. If you must taste everything, select very small (about ¼ cup) servings. Remember the stuffing is actually bread.
  • Choose the right toppings (or try to make selections without any).
  • Go for Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. Well, maybe. I once bought Greek yogurt for that purpose and evidently picked up the wrong container. When I retrieved it to use, I compared calorie counts on the reduced-calorie sour cream and yogurt. Much to my surprise, the Greek yogurt had more calories. The real point here is to check labels carefully.
  • Use the one-layer rule. Personally, I don’t like to pile other foods on top of my original layer. I can squeeze them close together, but not piled high. If you do stack yours, reconsider. When the plate has one complete layer, stop! The right selections helps avoid the problem.
  • Section off starches. Thanksgiving is a day with plentiful starches. Choose just one or two half-servings not to exceed a quarter of the plate.
  • Make your own cranberry sauce, it tastes better anyway. Lots of good recipes exist, but I use the one Image result for free clip art pixabay cranberrieson a package of fresh cranberries. Another great choice is fresh cranberries chopped with an orange and mixed. The family tradition in my household is an original congealed cranberry mold. See the recipe below.
  • Choose pumpkin pie over pecan pie. Dessert doesn’t have to be pie, but if it is, pumpkin pie has one of the lowest calorie-counts and pecan one of the highest. Maybe try a pumpkin pudding or mousse. The crust of any pie adds lots of calories. I don’t care for crust so I have no problem leaving it on my plate. That isn’t true of everyone.
  • Skip ice cream and whipped cream toppings on pie. If you want something to top that pie, consider frozen vanilla yogurt. Be sure to check the label to make sure it is lower in calories than equivalent amounts of ice cream.
  • For those who drink alcohol, limit the amount and/or choose those with lower calorie counts.

If you’re the cook, check for ingredients in recipes that come in lower-calorie versions or can be omitted. Consider other helps listed below for all meals, but especially during holidays.

  • Change to cooking methods that won’t add additional calories.
  • While a little flavor may be sacrificed when low-fat milk replaces whole, half-&-half, or cream, many recipes adapt just fine.
  • Omit high-calorie ingredients such as sugar, butter, and nuts, and maybe marshmallows on top of sweet potatoes. Top simple sliced and cooked versions with a sprinkling of butter and brown sugar.
  • Skip or limit the gravy. While a great addition to the meat and stuffing, a sparing serving or none suffices.
  • When hors d’oeuvres are served before a meal, skip or choose lower-calorie choices of fresh fruits or veggies without the dip.
  • Watch serving sizes. This may be the biggest downfall for most of us. If numerous dishes are offered, cut serving sizes even more.

Whatever your choices, try to make them healthy. Most of all, be thankful. God bless each of you during this Thanksgiving season.

CRANBERRY ORANGE THANKSGIVING MOLD
1  (6 ounce) package sugar-free orange flavored gelatin
2  cups hot water
1 1/2  cups pineapple juice, diluted with cold water
1  can whole berry cranberry sauce
1  (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple packed in juice, drained
1/2  cup pecans, chopped
2  teaspoons orange zest, optional
Dissolve flavored gelatin in hot water. Add cranberries and mix. Drain pineapple. Add cold water to pineapple juice to make 1 1/2 cups. Pour and mix into gelatin mixture. Add orange zest, pecans, and crushed pineapple. Pour into oil-sprayed ring mold. Chill overnight.
Image result for free clip art pixabay thanksgiving food

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Image result for pixabay clip art for cranberries

What is Thanksgiving turkey and dressing without cranberry sauce? This unique, brightly colored food is a must for most during the holiday season.

Now, just in time for Thanksgiving comes information from the Cranberry Institute about the many health benefits of this bright red addition to our holiday meal. Alas, cranberries aren’t just for urinary tract infections (UTI). In a paper titled “A Berry for Every Body,” the Institute confirms a number of positive effects on human health. They identify seven specific conditions:

  • Anti-bacterial benefits: Compounds found in cranberries may help stop bacteria which can irritate infections in several body organs by sticking to cells.
  • Heart health: On going research shows promise of a connection between consumption of cranberries and heart health. A 2016 study showed that cranberry juice may help improve blood flow and blood vessel function.
  • Anti-inflammatory effects: Studies in 2009 found that in animal models, consuming cranberries significantly lowered pro-inflammatory markers. This suggests a potential protective effect for specific body functions impaired by inflammation.
  • Urinary tract health: This ongoing controversy continues. For decades, researchers have battled whether cranberry juice can help prevent UTIs. According to The Cranberry Institute, cranberry products help reduce the incidence and recurrence of UTIs. Some studies indicate otherwise and suggest that cranberry juice may not treat UTIs or bladder infections.
  • Antioxidant activity: Studies indicate that antioxidant activity in cranberries protects against destruction of free radicals. This is significant in such disease conditions as cancer and cardiovascular disease.
  • Glucose metabolism: A 2017 study showed that dried cranberries added to a high-fat meal lowered glucose response and inflammation.
  • Gut health: Gut microbiota is a newer area of concern in physical health. Recent research indicates that cranberries may affect the gut microbiota in positive ways.

Cranberries are good sources of fiber plus the vitamins C, E, and K and the minerals copper and manganese. They contain high amounts of some plant compounds and antioxidants. Less familiar to us than vitamins and minerals, these substances include myricetin, peonidin, ursolic acid, and A-type proanthocyanidins which have shown promise in prevention of stomach cancer.

While these tasty red berries may or may not be a cure-all for ailments, it is a healthful food to include at Thanksgiving or other times. Try this Acorn Squash with Quinoa and Cranberries that I discovered and slightly modified last week.

Acorn Squash with Quinoa and Cranberries

2             acorn squash

1             cup onion, chopped                                                   Step 1 QUINOA CRANBERRY

1             cup celery, chopped

1             cup quinoa, plain or flavored

2             cups vegetable or chicken broth

1             teaspoon rosemary

1             teaspoon thyme

1             teaspoon sage

½           teaspoon black pepper                          FINAL QUINOA (2)

½           cup pecans, chopped

½            cup crumbled feta cheese, optional

1-2         tablespoons olive oil

Salt to taste

Prepare the acorn squash. Wash outside of squash and cut into vertical halves. Remove seeds and pulp. Place cut side up in a baking dish and cook until tender, about 30 minutes, in a 400o F. oven.

Heat oil in a skillet and add onion and celery. Cook until tender and yellowish. Add quinoa, cranberries, seasonings, and broth. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook until liquid is absorbed, about 18-20 minutes. Add pecans.

For larger acorn squash, cut halves vertically and spoon quinoa mixture onto each quarter. Sprinkle with feta cheese, if desired, and place under oven broiler unit until cheese begins to brown. This is such a filling dish a quarter should be enough for a serving. For vegetarians, use this tasty dish as a complete meal.

While this is a great fall dish when acorn squash and cranberries are plentiful, don’t forget the cranberry sauce to go with your turkey and dressing. It’s great from the can, either jellied or whole berry, or make your own from fresh berries. Most packages have a recipe.

COOKED CRANBERRIES

However you serve it, enjoy your Thanksgiving Day knowing that cranberries are nutritious and a delightful low-calorie addition.

 

 

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A slice of homemade Thanksgiving pumpkin pie s...

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Do you come away from holiday dinners feeling more stuffed than the turkey? There’s help and hope. The long holiday season swarms with temptations to overeat. Eating frenzies from Thanksgiving through New Year’s may increase weight by as much as four to five pounds, but the average gain comes closer to one pound. Planning ahead helps avoid increased calorie intake and excessive eating  during special occasions.

What holiday dinner choices tend to add the most extra calories? Delicious stuffing? Yams floating in sugar and butter? Tantalizing desserts?  Simple tips can help decrease holiday over-indulgence.

  • Identify foods loaded with the most calories and make an alternate choice.
  • Pass up second servings. Most of us leave holiday dinner tables not only full, but miserable. Fill your plate once and if you sample many dishes, cut portion size to less than usual.
  • Eat slowly and savor the flavor longer. Take time to think about what you are chewing and relish every morsel.
  • Consider lower calorie desserts.  Compare the following approximate calorie values per serving and choose wisely:
    • mincemeat pie (500 calories);
    • pecan pie (450 calories);
    • apple pie (425 calories);
    • pumpkin pie (325 calories);
    • coconut cake (400 calories);
    • fruitcake (150 calories);
    • eggnog (350 calories);
    • mixed frozen fruit (250 calories).

If you can’t resist eating a high-calorie dessert, request a half-serving. For pies, consider leaving the crust and foregoing the whipped topping.

Calorie-laden foods need not enslave us this Thanksgiving. Choose wisely and be thankful for the bounty God provides.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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As the holiday season approaches, we busy ourselves with extra tasks including food preparation. None of us would intentionally harm others through improper handling of food—but it happens. Careful attention helps assure safe food. The web site, www.foodsafety.gov, provides guidelines to follow for purchasing, preparing, and serving food. Some guidelines are basic: wash hands often, store foods properly, and pay attention to proper handling and cooking of foods, especially meats.

The “Fight Bac” brochure, www.fightbac.org, explains four steps to food safety:  Clean—wash hands, cutting boards, etc. frequently; Separate—avoid cross-contamination; Cook—use cooking temperature guides; Chill—refrigerate promptly.

The “rule of four” reduces possibilities of food spoilage.

  • Thaw, prepare, cook, and reheat frozen items, within four hours for all procedures.
  • Store cold foods below 40oF.  Keep hot foods above 140oF.
  • Limit the time foods stay in the optimum bacterial growth danger zone (40oF to 140oF). Cool and refrigerate or freeze leftovers within four hours.  
  • Use refrigerated leftover foods and highly perishable foods such as fresh meats within four days.

Also, remember to cook turkeys to an internal temperature of 160oF, fresh hams, 160oF, and precooked hams, 140oF.

Keep family and friends safe this holiday season. Following these above suggestions helps prevent foodborne illness. Enjoy a food-safe Thanksgiving.

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