BITS & PIECES


BITS & PIECES 


I  often apologise when I miss an update of my Healthy Cooking For Today blog, but this time I am apologising for my stupidity that caused the long time delay of my updates.  Unfortunately in October, I caused considerable damage to an old neck injury that included a deteriorating disc and in later years painful arthritis in my neck, simply by lifting something. Not thinking, I lifted the object without using the proper procedure that had been drilled into my head by my doctors and therapist at the many rehab sessions I completed. The result being a nerve being compressed in my neck causing unbelievable pain in my neck, shoulder and down my arm and on my right side, and yes I am right handed.  


This condition continued through the months of October, November and most of December and eased up some what the last few weeks of January. I do not  take any kind of pain medications and simple rely on Tylenol and of course wear my neck brace, my collar, a sling and a compression glove. This is the first day I am using my computer wearing my neck brace and a compression Glove.  I am taking 15 minute breaks, and I will probably be up until the wee hours before I post. Anyway, when I could, I made handwritten rough drafts of my updates with my left hand and it is taking me time trying to decipher them. I was able to work on my recipes with my left hand with the help of my many kitchen gadgets. But because I hate to waste anything, especially precious time,  I am going to share them with you. Here Goes!

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SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER


Summer seemed to have a late start, or perhaps it was only me, but unfortunately I planted my garden a little bit  late and I lost some of my tomatoes and eggplant with the early frost that we had a few weeks ago. But thank goodness I was able to harvest enough tomatoes which were added to the tomatoes from my son-in-laws garden to make 6 quarts of tomato sauce. I also was able to harvest some of the eggplant and made eggplant lasagna and eggplant parmesan for the  freezer.   



This is my new testing lasagna pan that makes three different types of lasagna at once.



Each section as you can see in the photo has a separate lift out section that goes into the pan and when removed, releases the section as a seperate tray. I made one with no-cook lasagna noodles, one with whole wheat noodles and one using sliced eggplant as the noodles. Very interesting experience. I LOVED THEM ALL!  I  certainly will be experimenting making other food in it as well.


I did have a good crop of basil and made several containers of pesto of various varieties and experimented making some unusual dishes. Actually this was the best year for the basil, it grew so full and so tall, as did the field lettuce that I planted.  it was so large, it looked like something from a far off galaxy. I used a new organic fertilizer this year and it was amazing. 


I am now in the process of drying my peppermint, spearment, lemon balm and my new herb chocolate peppermint for my teas. Gardening is just one of the many things that I love. Problem is there doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day or is it that time is moving faster and I am just getting slower?


My rough draft is so long because I had so much to write about, but realizing that it is a holiday week with Thanksgiving quickly approaching and that everyone is going to be busy, I am trying to alleviate some of the content and have room for a few of the easy and delicious healthy recipes I want to share.  I also want to acknowledge the fact that Fall is the time that the kids are back in school and I have a few simple do ahead breakfast recipes that will boost their energy and alertness for the school day.  


A few days ago it was bitter cold and on my way to an early appointment I noticed a group of youngsters at the bus stop bundled up huddling together, trying to keep warm. My thoughts were, gee I hope they had a hearty breakfast to sustain them on this cold morning. So to help you moms out, I have a few suggestions for you and knowing that many of you are also rushing to get to your jobs on time as well, I made sure that most of the recipes can be made ahead and only have to be heated in the microwave or toaster. 


Although I honestly cannot believe that Thursday is Thanksgiving and Christmas is only weeks away,  Funny Story-I was moving furniture to clean behind it in my family room and I found 2 ornament hangers from last years tree, and here it is time to put up the tree  again. That clock just seems to be going faster and faster! It doesn’t help when the kids suggest that it is about time that I purchased a table top tree instead of  putting up my ceiling high tree. What they do not know is that my tree, which takes me 3 days to decorate, is part of my Christmas preparation ritual.


Although you probably have your Thanksgiving menu set by now, I am sharing one of my family's favorite recipes and it is a time saver recipe that always worked very well for a large crowd and the best thing is you can make it the day before. 


 Also, I am including a few tasty recipes for Thanksgiving leftovers that are always welcomed a few days after the big feast.

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A HEALTHY START TO  A SCHOOL DAY


Featured in the above photo are some of the breakfast suggestions that can be made ahead.


Donuts-the donuts are made in a special donut pan that is available through many catalogues that are stuffed in your mailbox.  Honestly, I must receive at least 25 a week. Some go straight in the trash, but I have to admit, I do order from some of them. I have also seen the donut pans at Bed Bath and Beyond.  




Also on the  pedestal dish are some pumpkin muffins that are made with my homemade cake mix and canned pumpkin or squash.  Yes, I borrowed this idea from the cake mix people, so if you are not into making your own non additive mixes, feel free to do your thing-anything in moderation is OK!  You can find the recipe for my homemade cake mix that is made in bulk and stored in a large glass jar in my storage refrigerator by clicking All Post and clicking on It’s Christmas-Dec. 25, 2017 post. You can also use the mix to make cookies as I did to add to my holiday cookie tray.



Cut out rolled dough cookies from Homemade Cookie Mix and a tray of dropped cookies from my cake mix.  Nice to have on hand in the refridgerator.





This photo is the thank you note from the Kindergarten class from one of our local schools when I demonstrate how to make donuts healthier by baking them instead of frying them


They decorated the donuts like their favorite Dunkin Donut. Strawberry with sprinkles. Oh Well, it was a fun day with all the kids calling me Nana. For their Kindergarten graduation I baked a huge tray of donuts for the class, unfortunately they placed them on the refreshment table for the guest and several of the children were to late to get one and came running to me crying.


Apple Cider Donuts

1      cup         All purpose flour

¾     cup           White whole wheat flour

¾     tsp.           Salt

2      tsp           cinnamon

½     tsp,           nutmeg

½     cup           Butter or Smart Balance

½     cup           Apple sauce

¾     cup           Brown Sugar-may use less

¾     cup           Sugar-may use less

1      tsp           Vanilla

½     cup           Apple Cider

Extra mixed cinnamon and sugar for sprinkling


Heat oven 350 degrees

Spray pans with Pam Baking Made With Flour cooking spray. In a separate bowl mix flour, baking powder  and salt and reserve. Add butter and applesauce to a large electric mixer bowl. Attach the paddle attachment to the mixer. Add the brown sugar and ¼ cup of white sugar and process until creamed for 3-4 minutes. Add the remaining sugar gradually and beat well.  Add the vanilla and blend. Add flour and mix well. Add cider and mix into batter.


I find it easier to fill the pans by placing the batter in a plastic storage bag and cutting one corner of the bag. Twist the top of the bag tight to prevent the batter from leaking out of the bag. Squeeze the bag to fill the sections in the pan ½ full. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, rotating pan halfway through. Cool in pan for a few minutes, but remove while still warm and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.

Note:  I usually check ther donuts at 12 minutes and if more time is needed, I will go to 15.  However, and yes you heard it before-all stoves are calibrated differently.  


The following is a handout that I included in a packet that I presented to the third grade class at a local school when I was a guest speaker for Career Week. My presentation included a talk on starting the day with a healthy breakfast.  Included was the following handout with the recipe for the cookies and suggestions how to tailor the recipe to fit their personal needs.


Did you know that the most important meal of the day is breakfast?  Eating breakfast actually wakes up your brain and readies it for all the information and activity that it will absorb during the day.


Unfortunately on some days you may sleep late or take too much time dressing or maybe even spend time working on the homework that you forgot to do the night before and not have time to eat a leisurely breakfast of cereal and fruit or eggs or a few healthy pancakes. But guess what? You can still have a nutritious  breakfast with my Super Duper Breakfast Cookie and a cup of hot cocoa made using my chocolate marshmallow spoon,


Ask mom to heat a cup of milk and simply stir the Chocolate Marshmallow Spoon in the milk until the chocolate melts and the marshmallows float on top of the milk.


The cookie contains an abundance of healthy ingredients and when mom makes them she can add additional healthy ingredients simply by adding her choice of add-ins in the batter as well eliminating undesirable ingredients.  


Your cookie today contains dark chocolate chips, and that is ok, unless of course you have an allergy to chocolate.  Dark 60% cacao and above can be very healthy ingredient because it contains antioxidants that protect your cells from dangerous toxins The cookie freezes well, so you can always be ready for those days that you just do not have time for a regular breakfast.  


Each child received 3 cookies and a chocolate marshmellow spoon.  I can honestly say that the program was very well received.



Super Duper Breakfast Cookie


½     cup               butter or Smart Balance

½     cup              unsweetened applesauce

1      cup               firmly packed brown sugar-may use less

½     cup               granulated sugar-may use less

1                            egg plus 2 egg whites

1      tsp                 pure vanilla extract

½     cup                all purpose flour

½     cup                white whole wheat flour

1      tsp                 baking soda

¼     tsp                 salt

1      tsp                 cinnamon

2 ½  cups              uncooked oatmeal

1      cup                toasted wheat germ

1      cup                add ins, such as raisins, nuts, chocolate chips or dried fruit. 

                                              

Heat oven to 350 degrees

Beat together butter, applesauce and sugar until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla, beat well. Add combined flours, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well.  Stir in oats and wheat germ, if using and incorporate add-ins. Mix well.


Drop by rounded tablespoons on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for at least 1 minute on cookie sheet; remove to cooling rack.


Note:  You can design you own Breakfast Cookie by substituting other ingredients. However baking is a science and when you eliminate an ingredient you must add the same amount that you eliminated with the new ingredient.  Example: If you eliminate ½ cup of wheat germ you can add ½ cup of chopped nuts or cold cereal such as crushed flakes or Grape Nut Cereal  which have the consistency of nuts, but unlike the name suggests, Grape Nut Cereal does not contain nuts!  However you should always check the ingredients of a product along with checking the small print to see if the product is manufactured in machinery that also produces nut products.  Very important if you or a family member has a nut allergy.


Warning-This recipe contains allergens such as chocolate and eggs and nuts if used as an add-in. 

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To make the cocoa spoon melt 1 cup of dark chocolate chips and 1 tablespoon of solid shortening in microwave.  Using a teaspoon, dip it in the chocolate and scoop a good mound in the bowl of the spoon-I have found small wooden spoons in Bed Bath And Beyond-unfortunately our store closed after Christmas.


Place the spoon on wax paper and sprinkle mini marshmallows on top. Wait until the chocolate solidifies.  Warm a cup of milk and swirl the spoon in the milk for a few minutes. The marshmallows will raise to the top.  Please do not lick the spoon after swirling in the hot milk if it is a metal spoon.

  

When I was a child, a bowl of oatmeal with a sliced banana, a sprinkle of cinnamon and a sprinkle of brown sugar was a go-to breakfast for me on a cold winter day because I knew it would be the fuel that I would need to keep me warm on my long walk to school trudging through the snow.  No buses and come to think of it, no snow days unless it was a blizzard.


The kids today are transported to school by buses and they have many snow days, they are at their bus stops some  as early as 6:00 and may not have time for a sit down oatmeal breakfast that is needed to fuel their bodies. However, I think that they could handle a cookie or 2 and a cup of cocoa or a glass of milk or perhaps as a change of pace, a make ahead  delicious Oatmeal Pancakes breakfast. The pancakes can be prepared on the weekend or when you have a little spare time, then layered in a freezer container with a piece of parchment between and stored in the freezer until needed. It only takes a few minutes in the toaster to heat them, just like the frozen pancakes at the SuperMarket. I always add berries, apples and maybe a few spices like cinnamon, nutmeg or even a dash of turmeric . The following is a basic recipe, have some fun with it.




Oatmeal pancakes served with a small pat of Smart Balance,  frozen blueberries and peaches  with Pure Vermont Maple Syrup.


Oatmeal Pancakes


1       cup         oatmeal

½      cup         all purpose flour or white whole wheat flour or whole wheat flour

1/2    tsp         sugar

2       tsp           baking powder

1       cup         skim milk

1       tbsp        canola oil

1                       egg, beaten or 2 egg whites beaten

                          add spices, if using



Heat griddle over medium heat and spray lightly with cooking spray. Combine oatmeal, flour, sugar and baking powder.  Add combined milk, oil and egg mixture. Heat griddled over medium heat and spray lightly with cooking spray. Pour ¼ cup of batter for each pancake onto prepared griddle, Turn pancakes when tops are covered with bubbles. If frozen crisp in toaster first, add butter or Smart Balance and syrup. Add toppings if using and heat in microwave  for 30 seconds.

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THANKSGIVING


As promised a favorite Thanksgiving recipe -although I serve it all through the year. Very easy to prepare and very healthy and absolutely delicious.

Photo



Butternut-Apple Crisp

Vitamin pact butternut squash and apples, who can ask for anything more?  Can even be served as a dessert with a topping of whipped cream ot ice cream.

½     cup               packed brown sugar

2      tbsp             lemon juice

1      tsp               ground cinnamon

½     tsp               salt

1                           small butternut squash, pared, quartered, seeded and sliced-I pierce the squash with a fork and cook in                               the microwave for a few minutes to soften.

1      20 oz can    “lite” pie sliced apples, undrained-I usually use fresh apples about 4 or 5 

                              sliced.

½     cup               raisins, optional


Note:  Canned pie apples are sweetened and usually seasoned with spices, but if using fresh apples you perhaps may need more cinnamon and a sprinkle of more brown sugar.


Topping


½     cup               white whole wheat flour or all purpose flour

½     cup               quick cooking rolled oats.

6      tbsp               Smart Balance or butter

½     cup               Walnuts, optional


In a mixing bowl, combine the ½ cup of brown sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, and salt. Add sliced squash, and undrained canned apples or fresh sliced apples and toss gently to coat. Add raisins, if using.

Turn squash-apple mixture into a lightly sprayed baking dish that will accomodate the mixture. Bake covered in a 375 Degrees oven for 30 minutes. 

Combine flour, oats and the remaining ¼ cup brown sugar and nuts, if using: cut in Smart Balance or butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Sprinkle over squash-apple mixture and bake uncovered  until topping is lightly browned.


I have another suggestion for you and it sure sounds interesting!   This is an idea from my son that he and his wife prepared last Thanksgiving with the leftovers the next day.  Actually the recipe is prepared like a Chicken Pot Pie-when I was a child mom probably would have called it “Second Hand Turkey Pot Pie.”

 The preparation begins with pastry for a 10 inch double crust pie, homemade or purchased. Place bottom crust in a 10 inch pie plate leaving a slight overhang on edge of dish and layer ingredients starting  with the vegetables, potatoes, sweet potatoes, green bean etc, and pour a small amount of gravy over the layer. Add a layer of stuffing and turkey and  pour turkey gravy over last layer and top with a thin layer of cranberry sauce and top with second crust. Seal the edges by crimping with a wet folk. Make 4 slashes on the top crust to release steam. If you perefer, you can lightly brush the top with Smart Balance or butter. Bake in a 425 degrees F. oven for 15 minutes.  Reduce temperature to 350 degrees F. and continue baking for 20 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Check often, remember all ovens are different.

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CHRISTMAS


 The “ Perils Of Pauline “ surfaced again on Wednesday I awoke with a sinus headache, a sore throat and laryngitis and felt like a train ran over me and it lasted until the Sunday before Christmas. I was in disbelief that I could be so ill because I had  my “Over The Hill Flu Shot” and I had not had a winter cold or respiratory infection for 10 years since, with the advice of my doctor, I began taking Probiotics. But because of my other problem, I wasn’t driving and I had forgotten to add them to my shopping list for my daughter. I swear by them, so check with your doctor to see if he or she recommends them.


 My thoughts were I will never be able to get my Christmas decorations up. To my delight my son came and set my tree up and my youngest grandson and his girlfriend helped me decorate it and I think we did a pretty good job.


We  even did a little decorating on the outside too!. I asked  Alexa to play some holiday Music, and now it felt like Christmas




 The Friday after Christmas my daughter and her husband  hosted a belated Christmas dinner for her out-of-town children and their families and their son and his family  who resides locally and me. However, relaxing after dinner, I was informed that my two granddaughters and their families were invited to stop over because it would be the first time that all my great grandchildren where all present and they wanted a photo with me and the children. 


Now, having my photo taken is not my favorite thing to do, for a few reasons. 1) If I smile, it looks like my eyes are closed. 2) If I do not smile, it looks like I am mad at someone. 3) When everyone one is in line with phones in hand ready to shoot, honestly I do not know where to look.  My suggestion is that if I start at one end and move my head slowly to the other end, snap the photo when I look at you. The kids will do whatever grabs them anyway, as you can see in the photo. The ages are from 1 ½ to 7.       I will treasure this photo!




Both celebrity Betty White and I had birthdays in January, I haven’t caught up with her yet and do not think that I qualify to be the Grandma Moses of the food Bloggers yet, but if the years keep going by as fast as the last 21 years that I have been producing  HealthyCookingForToday’ aka CookingForToday, which will celebrate its 22 birthday on August 8, 2020. I MIGHT MAKE IT YET!

HAVE A VERY HAPPY AND HEALTHY NEW YEAR


DISCLAIMER-HealthyCookingForToday.com is intended to supply my readers with timely medical information and suggestions for healthier food choices and is not intended to give medical advice, which should be obtained by your personal physician.


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