Wednesday, October 26, 2016

DIY Healthy Halloween Treats

If you’re spooked by the overwhelming amount of highly processed junk coming into your house this time of year, try making some of your own treats. While these are certainly sugary confections, you control the quality of the ingredients and the amount of sugar, which helps make things a little less scary. Here are two no-fail recipes that the kids can help create.

Festive Dark Chocolate Lollipops
Makes 12 lollipops

You can use premade lollipop molds, but it’s even more fun to pour chocolate pops freeform. These impressive treats literally take only minutes to make! Get the kids in the kitchen to help decorate.

5 ounces dark chocolate
Halloween sprinkles and other edible decor

Line a sheet pan with a nonstick baking mat and arrange lollipop sticks in a row about 6 inches apart. Melt chocolate in the microwave or over a double boiler. Pour a heaping tablespoon of melted chocolate over the top quarter portion of each lollipop stick. Decorate as desired and allow to set for at least 30 minutes. Enjoy immediately or wrap in plastic and use within 3 days.

Per serving (1 piece): Calories 63; Fat 4 g (Saturated 2 g); Cholesterol 1 mg; Sodium 0 mg; Carbohydrate 8 g; Fiber 1 g; Sugars 6 g; Protein 1 g

Fruit Juice Gummy Bears
Make this classic kid favorite with fruit juice. You can buy silicone molds online for less than $8, and this recipe will make hundreds of standard-sized candies. Go for antioxidant-rich real fruit juices like pomegranate, apple or grape.

1 cup 100% fruit juice
1/4 cup sugar or honey
6 envelopes unflavored gelatin

In a small saucepan, combine juice and sugar; bring to a boil and stir until sugar is dissolved. Sprinkle gelatin evenly into juice mixture and whisk well until liquid is smooth and glossy. Pour into molds and transfer to the freezer for 20 minutes or until set. Remove from molds and store in the refrigerator.

Per serving (20 pieces): Calories 23; Fat 0 g (Saturated 0 g); Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 6 mg; Carbohydrate 4 g; Fiber 0 g; Sugars 4 g; Protein 2 g

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.



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16 Ways to Increase Neuroplasticity (and Why That’s Important)

Exploring The MIND Diet

Diets come and go, but the MIND Diet has the potential to cut the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in half and keep the brain more than seven years younger. The author of The MIND Diet, nutrition expert Maggie Moon, M.S., RDN, claims this approach to nutrition “is heart-healthy and a solid foundation for healthy eating for just about anyone.” So what exactly does the MIND Diet entail?

The Origin of MIND
The MIND Diet is a cross between the Mediterranean Diet and the DASH Diet. “MIND” stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. The diet was developed by researchers at Rush University who created a nutrition plan shown to help lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by more than one-third. In this prospective study, 923 people between the ages of 58 and 98 were followed for four-and-a-half years while following the Mediterranean Diet, the DASH Diet and the MIND Diet. Those who adhered to the MIND Diet the most reduced their risk for Alzheimer’s by 53 percent compared with those who did not adhere closely to the diet. Even those who partially adhered to the MIND Diet were still able to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s by 35 percent compared with those who did not follow the diet.

The Diet
The original diet was developed by Martha Clare Morris, Ph.D., a nutritional epidemiologist at Rush University in Chicago, and her colleagues, who identified 10 “brain-healthy food groups” that were brimming with antioxidants, resveratrol and healthy fatty acids. These foods included berries, green leafy vegetables, olive oil, nuts, whole grains, fish and beans. According to the researchers, strawberries and blueberries were shown to be the most-potent berries in terms of protecting against Alzheimer’s and preserving cognitive function.

The MIND Diet is a well-laid-out meal plan with recipes that promote these “brain-healthy foods.” The goal is to earn a top score of 15 by eating at least three servings of whole grains, one serving of vegetables and one glass of wine each day. According to Moon, “The MIND Diet includes a glass of wine a day — no more, no less. Wine is a polyphenol-rich food that was linked to better cognitive function in 447 older men and women who were part of the PREDIMED trial.” You’re also eating leafy greens nearly every day, nuts most days of the week, beans about every other day, berries and poultry twice a week and fish once a week, and using olive oil as your main cooking fat.

There is also a list of foods to limit, as they aren’t great for brain health. These include butter, margarine, pastries, whole-fat cheese, red meat and fast food. Eating certain foods and avoiding others earns you one point each, adding up to a total possible score of 15. If you don’t hit 15 points, don’t worry! Moon claims, “Scoring 8 out of 15 still had significant benefits, and reduced the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 35 percent. So even moderately following the guidelines can help.”

Chicken Curry Salad with Ginger, Almonds & Grapes
MIND foods: Poultry, vegetables, nuts, leafy greens
Serves: 8

2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup almond slivers, toasted
1/2 cup mayonnaise (recipe below)
1 1/2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breast
5 teaspoons mild curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, plus more to taste
One 6-ounce cup plain strained yogurt (like Greek or Icelandic)
1 teaspoon honey
1 1/2 inches fresh ginger root, peeled and minced
1 medium red onion, chopped (1 cup)
1 yellow bell pepper, cored and small diced
1 1/2 cup seedless grapes, halved or quartered
2 heads butter lettuce, leaves separated
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Wash, dry and prep all fresh produce. Spread almond slivers in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 5 to 8 minutes (check after 5 minutes), until lightly browned.

2. On medium heat, combine chicken broth and 3 cups of water in a medium pot. On low heat, add curry and ginger powder to a small saute pan, stirring occasionally, until toasted and fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Set aside. Meanwhile, pat chicken breasts dry with paper towels. When liquid is simmering, add chicken (it should be covered by the liquid), adjusting heat to maintain a simmer if needed. Cook, uncovered, for 7 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken from the pot and let rest on a cutting board for at least 10 minutes.

3. While chicken is cooking, make the mayonnaise (see directions below), if making, and set aside in refrigerator.

4. In a large bowl, combine mayonnaise, yogurt, lime juice, honey, curry and ginger powder mix, and fresh ginger. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk to combine. Add in onion, bell peppers, grapes and almonds, gently stirring to coat (I used a soft spatula for this part).

5. When chicken is cool enough to handle, dice into bite-size pieces (about 1/2-inch squares). Gently fold chicken into main salad mixture, using a soft spatula or gloved hands.

6. Taste it. If it needs adjusting, seasoning to taste with salt, pepper and lime juice. For my tastes, I ended up adding another tablespoon of lime juice just at the end.

Make Your Own Mayonnaise

1 pasteurized egg yolk (I like Davidson’s Safe Eggs)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

1. In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolk, lemon juice and mustard together until smooth and homogenous. Season with salt and pepper. Slowly drizzle in olive oil, constantly whisking to keep mixture smooth. See, super easy, and tastes so much better than store bought.

Recipe and photos courtesy of Maggie Moon and The MIND Diet

Per serving: Calories 280; Fat 20 g (Saturated 3 g); Carbohydrate 14 g; Fiber 3 g; Protein 14 g

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.



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Clean Eating Thursday Recipe Linkup – Autumn Super Foods

Clean Eating Thursday Recipe Linkup - Autumn Super Foods

This time of year,there is a definite shift from summer to fall foods, and the vast majority of them are all so crazy good for you!

I love autumn foods and everything they represent. Comfort, warmth… Read more →



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10 Charts to Show You Why You Actually Do Have the Time and Money to Eat Real Food

Happy 10.26 To You

This post is partially sponsored by Peanut Butter and Co. And the number 26.

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think that’s my 9th grade birthday? I’m pretty sure I ordered that shirt from dELiA*s, and the scrunchie suggests that it is still the mid-90s. Do I wish I were 15 again? Nope!! Currently feeling pretty happy with 34. And I’m glad to be an even number age again! I don’t really have any profound thoughts this morning. I have shared quite a few of those lately.

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But I do have some birthday oatmeal to share! I think my 24 year old self blogging back in 2007 would have approved ; )

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Peanut Butter & Co sent me a gift box full of some of their newer products to highlight in a post, including these Chocmeister spreads that come in both dark and milk chocolate flavors. They’re similar to that other chocolatey hazelnut spread that everyone loves but they are made with 25% less sugar and double the protein. Read all about ’em here!

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I made a pot of whipped banana cheesecake oats (which just means that I stirred in a quarter cup of cottage cheese at the end of cooking!) and topped them with strawberries and chocolate.

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Tasted like dessert, and kept me full for ages!

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Check out these other Peanut Butter & Co products included in my box – Bestie is almond and cashew butter. I love the name Bestie for the sister flavors to peanut butter 🙂 These flavors are really nutty and there is no added sugar. And Dark Chocolate Dreams has been a favorite for years <3

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Happy buttering! (Speaking of buttering…I’m off to find some birthday buttercream….)

Thanks to Peanut Butter & Co for sponsoring this post. And to the number 26, I love you. 



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