A Healthy New Year Ahead

.February 3, 2019


0n Thursday morning last week I awoke at my usual time, 6 AM, put on my exercise clothes, made my one an only full octane cup of coffee and set up my Wii Fit, but before I switched my source to games for my Wii Fit, I checked  the local news and the first thing that I heard the commentator say was “I can’t believe that this is the last day of January.” WHAT? Was I really that busy that I let the days slip by so quickly? Yes, it was a very busy month, birthday parties, birthday luncheons, house guest, dinner parties and trying to put away some of my holiday decorations. By the way my tree is still ablaze in my family room and although I love it because my life story in ornaments is on it, it is coming down this weekend.


Well here we are on the threshold of another year and contemplating all the events that touched our life in the past year. We all are familiar with the saying “You can’t change the past and you can’t predict the future.”  You and you alone are the percurer of your own happiness and destiny. For me true happiness can be achieved if you are at peace with yourself and your maker. By no means do I or would I advocate to anyone that they think as I do. Your own happiness is achieved by your innermost happiness, feelings and desires. Again, what is happiness for you, may not be what it is for someone else.


Author O. G. Mandinio sums it up quite well in his book “Mission Success.”  I will live this day as if it was Christmas. I will be a giver of gifts and deliver to my enemies the gift of forgiveness, my opponent tolerance, my friends a smile, my children a good example and every gift will be wrapped with unconditional love.


Now that my little motivation speech is over, I am wondering if anyone made a New Years resolution to eat healthier for the New Year.  Well this is where I may be able to help you keep that resolution without much work on your part, because that is what HealthyCookiingForToday is all about,  Oh I forgot to mention last year HealthyCookiingForToday aka CookingForToday celebrated it’s 21st birthday in August. Yes,11 years on the local paper and 10 years on the internet and yes, I love creating today as much as I did in the past.  I enjoy every aspect of producing HealthyCookingForToday. I love researching the information used, I love writing it, I love the food photo shoots, I love creating the recipes for it, I love editing the text and putting everything together and I certainly love eating all the food that you see in my photos.


But another importent componet is that all this activity is food for my brain.  On a more personal issue I consider sharing my thoughts and health news and healthy recipes as that of a caregiver without any finacial gain to thank the Lord for giving me the ability to do so!


I use what most medical and nutrition reports recommend and that is the Mediterranean Diet. I shared the guidelines many months ago before my new web design. To review the guidelines, click on All Post at the top of the page and click on February 13, 2017. Honestly, every month when I am doing my research for my site, I read another accolade pertaining to the Mediterranean Diet.


The Mediterranean Diet -Photo does not include, grains and the  protein sources, fish, poultry, red meat in moderation and dairy.  (Oh and a moderate glass of red wine with dinner.)


I have to confess, I do put my own spin on it at times.  For instances, I eat by the book 80% of the time and 20% of the time I give myself a little leeway and eat foods off the graph.  For instance, I do not eat beef usually, but if invited to dinner and the hostess serves beef, I will eat it and certainly I would not deny myself a slice of birthday cake or dessert occasionally on my 20% day.  Deprivation, is the main reason why most people cannot stick to a healthy eating plan. By using the 20-80 plan, you never feel deprived and a funny thing happens, knowing you can, many times you rather not.


The Mediterranean Diet is so versatile with concentration on fruit, vegetables, grains, poultry, fish and seafood, low fat dairy, and red meat in moderation, approximately twice a month and a moderate glass of wine with dinner.  Hey! Now that doesn’t sound hard to take, does it? Opps, I almost forgot,  include at least 8 glasses of water a day.


CREATIVE CORNER-In the Creative Corner today is Nurse Nicole from Connecticut.  Nicole has 3 boys  5-3 and 17 months and has a very hectic schedule but still finds the time to cook healthy meals for her family.  It is obvious that Nicole enjoys cooking and using healthy ingredients and has a flare for presentation, remembering the old saying “You eat with your eyes first.”  Nicole shared some of her latest creations and they certainly look healthy and delicious,

This sure is a beautiful healthy meal, chocked full of low fat protein and an array of healthy vegetables and grains.


Turkey and chicken meatballs in tomato sauce, topped with ricotta and a colorful and healthy brown rice bowl with salsa, cheese and veggies, topped with greek yogurt.






Creative Corner is an important aspect of my site, sharing your creations with others,  So many of you share your photos on Facebook and Instagram, so why not share with your friends on HealthyCookingForToday.com.  Many times they are picked up on Google and Bing. If interested send a photo of a craft or one of my recipes that you made or one of your own recipes.  Send your photo and any information pertaining to it to May@HealthyCookingForToday.com

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The weather has been frigid, although not has bad as in some parts of the country and what is more welcoming on a cold frigid day but a hot nutritious bowl of soup.  All of the recipes are quite easy and can be made in a flash the day of or the night before. All the recipes are easy on your budget as well.



Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup


1          (14 ounce) ounce bag dried split peas, soaked overnight, drained and picked over

1           meaty ham bone

3           slices bacon, chopped, optional

1           (32) ounce box unsalted chicken broth

3 ½       cups of water, plus more if needed-this is a thick soup

4           small potatoes, diced

2           carrots, peeled and diced

1           medium onion, diced

2           stalks celery, diced

1           clove garlic, diced

½          teaspoon salt

½tsp     ground black pepper

¾ts       your homemade salt free herb blend or Mrs. Dash salt free table blend.*

1            bay leaf

Slightly cook bacon, drain and pat dry.  Place dried split peas, ham bone and bacon if using in cooker; pour in chicken broth, and 3 ½ cups water and cover cooker and cook on high until peas are tender and separated, 3 to 4 hours. Stir more water as needed to prevent soup from burning on bottom.  Stir occasionally throughout cooking.


Remove ham bone and remove any meat from bone and chop and add with any additional leftover pieces that have been chopped and add to cooker. Stir potatoes, carrots, onion, celery, and garlic into soup; mix in more water if needed. Cover and cook soup on high for 2 more hours.


Season with salt and black pepper and herb mix. Cover and cook 2 more hours to blend flavors.

This is a very thick soup as the old adage indicates “The fog is as thick as pea soup.”  Add additional water or broth to thin if you desire and additional spices per taste. Remove bay leaf before serving.



Quick Tomato Vegetable Soup


1          32 Ounce low sodium tomato juice

1          can stewed tomatoes

½tsp    onion powder or to taste         

             salt and pepper to taste

¼tsp     oregano or to taste

2 /3       cups leftover cooked vegetables, frozen vegetables and sliced mushrooms

              Leftover pasta or rice

            

Combine all the ingredients and simmer on low for 3o minutes to blend flavors.


This is a simple basic recipe and by substituting other ingredients-such as broth for the tomato juice and tomato sauce for the stewed tomatoes and fresh spinach and orzo and tiny meatballs and maybe a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, you will have the makings for a bowl of Italian wedding soup.  Be Creative!



Creamed Broccoli Mushroom Soup


I love cream soup, but I am not happy with the cream or half and half usually used to make them.  I especially enjoy Creamed Broccoli Soup and back in the day, when writing my Cooking For Today column for the newspaper I tweaked a few cream soup recipes and came up with this simple basic cream soup starter.  It was a big hit and readers sent in many cream soup recipes that they made with it. Every recipe that I tried taste like the high fat versions of cream soup.

Today I am sharing my recipe for creamed fresh broccoli and fresh mushroom soup.  The basic cream soup starter follows.


Basic Cream Soup Starter


¼ cup   onion, finely chopped

¼ cup    celery, finely

¼ cup    Smart Balance or butter

3  tbls.    flour

¼ tsp      salt

⅛  tsp     pepper

1 ½         cups unsalted chicken broth, I use Unsalted Kitchen Basics

1 ½         cups skim or 2% milk


In medium saucepan saute onion and celery in Smart Balance or butter until tender.

Stir in flour, salt and pepper. Cook one minute stirring constantly, until smooth and bubbly.

Gradually stir in broth and milk; cook until slightly thickened, stirring constantly.  Do not boil.

If you prefer a thinner soup, simple add an additional small amount of broth.


You can create any kind of cream soup using this Basic Cream Soup Starter. I am sharing my

recipe for my Creamed Broccoli Mushroom Soup.


Creamed Broccoli Mushroom Soup


1 ½         cups fresh broccoli, cooked

1 ½         cups fresh mushrooms, cooked

                 I slightly cook the vegetables in the microwave, firm, but not too soft

2  tsp.      Lemon juice

¼ tsp       garlic powder

                 Cream soup starter above

Stir broccoli, mushrooms, lemon juice and garlic powder into Basic Cream Soup Starter.

Heat gently, stirring to combine.  Do not boil.


If you noticed, on the photos of the Tomato Vegetable Soup and the Creamed Broccoli Soup the  accompaniments in the form of small tea sandwiches that I served were made with a very simple whole wheat bread recipe that takes about 10 minutes at the most to prepare. So as my February kind action, I am throwing it in the mix as a bonus recipe.  As a bonus recipe that is a tasty way to get some extra fiber in your diet. It is delicious toasted.


Simple Whole Wheat Bread-This recipe makes two loaves of bread. Divide ingredients for one loaf.



4 cups           whole wheat flour

2 cups            unbleached white flour or you can use white whole wheat flour

½cup              sugar

2 tsp               salt

1quart             buttermilk

4 tsp                baking soda

2                       bread pans, greased


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  In a large mixing bowl mix first 4 ingredients. In a separate bowl mix baking soda and buttermilk. Stir wet ingredients into dry; Pour into two greased bread pans and smooth tops of bread.  Place in center of oven. Turn oven down to 350 degrees and bake approximately 50 minutes. Turn out and cool on wire rack. No buttermilk, naturally I prefer buttermilk, but in a pinch you can add 4 tablespoons of lemon juice or distilled white vinegar to a quart of milk and mix well and let it stand for 10 minutes before adding to the other ingredients.


As soon as I finish this update I am retreating to my lab (kitchen) and try to create a healthy cinnamon  raisin bread made with all white whole wheat flour using the above recipe. I will keep you posted.


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