Sunday, October 6, 2013

Green tea apple cider :)

It's fall, and a lot of us like to enjoy a hot cup of Apple Cider, but why not make it a cup of Green tea apple cider! I took one of my Organo Gold green tea bags and brewed it in about 1/4 cup of hot water, then added my apple cider to it, with a dash of cinnamon, and voila....delish with a side-kick of "healthy". 

Like I've mentioned in a post before, apples have so many health benefits. Now add that with green tea, which is one of the healthiest drinks I know, and is beyond a super food. Over the years studies have shown so many health benefits to green tea. It is all about the Catechins which are antioxidants that fight and possibly even prevent cell damage, and green tea isn't processed much, so it is rich in catechins.  Green tea has shown to improve heart health with cholesterol issues, high blood pressure, and congestive heart failure.
It's known to help with brain health, diabetes, weight loss, stress levels, and so much more. Well, and that little added dash of cinnamon adds even more health benefits from helping stabilize blood sugar levels, to helping with bad cholesterol, and other antibacterial qualities.

~Don't add green tea to boiling water. You will kill helpful catechins. Just heat your water to about 160-170   degree water.
~Adding lemon to your regular cup of green tea for the vitamin C makes the healthy compounds in green tea easier to absorb. Apple cider has vitamin C in it as well, so there you go! Don't use any dairy if possible, as it makes it harder to absorb the catechins.
~Levels of the healthful compounds in green tea can vary, so it really does make a difference in purchasing a   pricier teas vs. the lower cost canned green-tea drinks which will have less.
~Now, speaking of good quality teas, I definitely recommend Organo Gold green tea, and I actually drink it everyday :0)  It also has Ganoderma Mushroom extract which is a whole other realm of health benefits, helping with inflamation, immune system supports, antibacterial qualities, cardiovascular health, and so much more!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The "Egg-ssential" ingredient

Lets face it, eggs are an essential ingredient in baked goods. Whether you are using egg whites only or the whole egg, they can both be incorporated into your recipe in several ways. Today I had someone come to me at the bakery, and they said they tried making a cake for their husband and it came out flat :0( I talked with her, and by deducting a few things, came up with it must have been the egg whites.  When we read a recipe we just assume it is written correctly, and if we do the steps, no matter what, it should work,… right?....well I used to think that way, until I went to culinary school that is. I also took a technical writing class which went over how recipes are written, and how they actually should be written! Even with some of the directions you get with a bike, for example, on how to put it together, are not always written the best way for consumers to understand, and we sit there as parents trying to figure out why we ended up with way too many left over nuts and bolts and various other pieces??? Augh….. so anyway, here are a few simple tips and tidbits from me on using egg whites:

~Unless called for differently, I always use large Grade A eggs. Most recipes that just call for “eggs” are referring to this size. BUT, size does make a difference, so if it calls for a different size, make sure to use that one.

~Use immediately once egg is cracked, or store any leftover whites in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for up to one week, or freezer for up to one month. Fresh eggs are always best when using in your baked goods, but if you need to use frozen egg whites, use in recipes where the egg is not the only leavening ingredient.

~Use only very clean utensils to beat your eggs. If you have any kind of oils/fats residue on your bowl or whisk, you will not obtain the correct texture, and remember not to use plastic bowls for beating your egg whites, as plastic can attract oils and greases. Copper bowls are often recommended, but honestly I use stainless steel in my bakery for everything and it works great (and much more affordable!)

~When cracking the egg, and separating the yolk from the white, it is usually easier to do when they are very cold. You don’t want any of the yolk to get into the white, as this will also keep you from getting the right texture when you beat them. The proper way is to use your hands. When you use the shell you take a chance of contamination because the shell is actually the most dangerous part of the egg when it comes to salmonella. Once separated, let the egg whites sit until room temperature before beating them, (like 30 min) that helps them whip up to a greater volume.

~Stiff peaks, and soft peaks.
When your recipe refers to “peak”, it’s talking about the part of the beaten egg white that sticks up from the rest when you pull up your beater or whisk. When hard, it will stand up on its own, and when soft, it will fall almost immediately.  This is key in your baking process if it calls for either of these to be done correctly. Don’t over whip or under whip, because then you will not have the right amount of air incorporated into them to work correctly for the recipe you are using. If your recipe is wanting you to do this, it is using your eggs for leavening, which is very important for the rise and texture of your baked goods.

~Folding…take care when folding your egg whites into heavier ingredients. Always gently fold the egg whites into the heavier mixture. DO NOT mix the batter or dry ingredients into the egg whites. Fold quickly and avoid over-stirring which will deflate your egg whites, and make sure this is done right after you finish beating them as beaten egg whites start losing their volume almost immediately.

~Always have your pans prepared and oven ready, so once this process is complete you can bake it immediately. Always, when using egg whites, it needs to get into the oven right away, or again, it will start to deflate, and you will end up flat.

Egg whites appear in so many baked goods, and especially in meringues and cakes, so its crucial to know how to use them correctly.

Happy baking :0)

Monday, September 23, 2013

It's been awhile.....

OK, yes I know, it has been quite awhile since I have taken the time to sit down and post. Life just got in the way I guess :0) I have something new and exciting to share though, so here goes!

So, the hubs and I have been introduced to a new product that we absolutely love.

I cant describe how excited I am about this product. For those of you that know me well, know how much coffee I drink. On a normal day I literally drink like 1-2 pots of coffee a day. With each cup being like 135 mg of caffeine, I don't even want to begin the math of figuring out how much caffeine I was getting!

I was skeptical at first, I mean I considered myself a coffee snob. I love grinding my own beans, and the smell of a freshly brewed pot made my mouth water. The idea of mixing my coffee up like an instant?? ...what? way! ....But our Sunday school teacher is the one that brought this coffee to us, whom we both trust and respect him, so we decided to try it, especially after doing our own research as well and hearing about the health benefits of Ganoderma.
 I work crazy hours and have a crazy schedule, and I drink two things, coffee and water....and lots and lots of coffee to keep me going. Frankly, I'm addicted, and to be honest the only reason I would ever go without coffee would be a major medical procedure  So back to Tuesday (a few weeks ago by now), by 3:00pm when I realized I had had only one cup of coffee and still had energy, clarity, felt wonderful, happy and hadn't bitten anyone's head off, I thought it was a miracle!! To this day, I now drink 1-2 cups of Organo Gold coffee a day. Each prepared cup of Organo Gold coffee has about 9mg coffee which you can see by simple math how much I was getting before to how little I take in now. That alone was a huge selling point for me, and then there are the other benefits I haven't even begun to mention:
Each Cup of Organo Gold Coffee is made with 100% Ganoderma Extract. If you haven't heard of the Ganoderma mushroom yet, you are missing out! Let me enlighten you just a little :0)

Organo Gold coffee is a blend of roasted 100% Arabica coffee beans and the red mushroom extract Ganoderma Lucidium, which has been used for centuries in China for it's health benefits. Ganoderma Lucidium is grown in the wild and is touted as a safe and natural alternative to coffee that can treat diseases, insomnia and depression.

The high amount of antioxidants in the Ganoderma mushroom strengthens the immune system, enabling it to fight viruses and bacteria, which these properties can also lower high blood pressure, stimulate the liver, alleviate lung problems, and support circulatory and respiratory systems, degenerative conditions, and inflammation. It also acts as a preventative against certain diseases, such as diabetes, lung disorders, heart disease and even cancer. The elements of Ganoderma help the flow of oxygen to the body which can increase enegry, vigor and reduce stress without the side effects of caffeine. So, no spikes or crashes!.... I could go on and on, there are so many but I will let you google Ganoderma and see for yourself :0) But the best way is to try it for yourself! 
Ok, so all that being said, I don't take it all lightly, I didn't sign up for this to make tons of money, I already have a Bakery that I am busy enough with as it is.  I just really love the product, and it has done some amazing things for us, I have to share just like any other herb or special ingredients I post about on this blog........So, Im not filling you up with a bunch of fluff, it's awesome!
If you want to try a cup, I can get you a sample, or you can go direct on our website:
So, check it out!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

My post workout obsession.....

So after a hard workout I love to replenish with a delicious healthy smoothie :) and one of my new obsessions is Chia Seeds! I throw into my little mini single serve blender- some greek yogurt, skim milk, frozen berries, half banana and sprinkle on Chia seeds and blend, blend, blend :0)

Chia seeds are an excellent source of protien, fiber, and antioxidants.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Baked Chicken Spaghetti

So it's dinner time again, and guess who doesn't know what to make?? Me, yes, I am culinary trained, and am in the kitchen all day at work, but when I come home, we are either running to ball practice, girl scouts, church, or just plain exhausted. I hate serving my family junk, so I am always looking for something convenient but wholesome to feed the fam that's not full of fat, calories, or preservatives.
The other night was one of those busy nights, so I opened my fridge, and pantry and got to work.
 I saw two leftover rotisserie chickens (from one of those nights I had to grab something on the go) and thought, what could I do with that??? My mother always made a really good chicken spaghetti growing up, so I started looking through my pantry to make some kind of "Baked Chicken Spaghetti"

Here is what you need:
1 Fully Rotisserie chicken, chicken removed and cut up
1 1/2 cups Spinach leaves
1 green pepper, cleaned and cubed
Baby bella mushrooms sliced (or any kind you prefer)
1 cup Sour cream (low fat)
2 cans Cream of chicken (98% fat free)
 about 1/2 cup Panko
1 package Whole wheat spaghetti pasta
about 1 TBSP thyme
about 1 1/2 tsp basil
Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top
Garlic salt, salt and pepper to taste.

In 9x13 casserole dish mix cream of chicken soup, sour cream, green pepper, spinach, spices, and herbs.

Add cut up chicken to mixture.

Cook noodles al dente, drain, and add to mixture.

Top with sliced mushrooms and a little parmesan (I only topped 3/4 because a few or my family members don't like them) and then top off with Panko.

Bake at 325 for about 20-30 minutes. Take out to cool about 5, then serve and enjoy!

A lot of this can be substituted or omitted, or feel free to add whatever you like. I just grabbed what I had. You don't have to use a left over rotisserie like I did, you can just buy one from the store already to go, or make it yourself if you have more time. Either way it was a hit with my trio of kiddos! (and the hubs who doesn't quite care for whole wheat noodles, and I'm not really even sure if he knew!)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Butternut Squash with Multi-grain Orzo

So, I am shopping at the grocery store looking for something new to make my family (I love introducing new foods)  So, I drive my cart by the produce isle, looking, and I see a butternut squash. I think for a sec, have I really not made butternut squash for my family? Nope, sure haven't.

The hubs (and sometimes the kids) and I have been doing the "Insanity" workout for about three weeks now. We have finally gotten to where we are doing it earlier in the day, (opposed to late at night before bed, after dinner...yeah, not the best idea, but hey we were dedicated!) One of the hardest parts of this program is they want you to eat like 5-6 times a day (small meals) to help your metabolism (which seemed non-existent for me for so long!) Funny enough, I forget to eat half the time or am so busy, it has been a task figuring it in my schedule to "eat".

So, we got done with our workout yesterday, the fam took off to softball practice, and I grabbed the butternut squash  I bought the other day and got to work. See, for me at least, once I work out that hard, I just want something light to eat. I have made sauteed butternut squash before, but wasn't sure how my family would respond to it. They are open to trying new things, as since they were little my rule was they always had to try something, if they didn't like it, they didn't have to eat it, BUT you never knew unless you tried it!

Sauteed Butternut Squash with Multi-grain Orzo

One large butternut squash, peeled and cubed
Olive oil (maybe about 2 TBSP)
Thyme (about 1/2 TBSP)
Rosemary (about 1/2 TBSP)
Minced Garlic ( 2+ TBSP)
Salt (to taste)
Pepper (to taste)
Hormel Real bacon pieces (totally add to your own taste!)

Pour olive oil in saute pan with cubes of squash, and toss to coat. Cook over med-high heat and add spices/herbs, stirring occasionally until tender. If you choose to include, add bacon pieces the last 5 minutes. The squash was our main dish so I decided to add a little of the bacon pieces to kick it up a little. I love keeping the bacon pieces on hand, they have 50% less fat than regular bacon, and are super easy to throw into a dish if you need to kick it up a notch.

OK, I promise I will try to get better with my recipes, but this is hard, most of the time when cooking I don't measure. (not like with baking, that's usually very precise) It's all about throwing different spices and herbs together, tasting, adding more, tasting again, and adding whatever else is necessary for your flavor palate.
So above is what I put in this dish, just not 100% sure on the exact amounts, so I estimated, but again, just make it to your taste.

To make the meal complete I made Orzo, which is a variety of pasta shaped like grains of barley or rice and paired that with some brussel sprouts, and voila! I will say, my kids liked it too!