SUMMER IS OVER

THE  END OF SUMMER


Let’s face it folks Summer is almost over and we were very lucky to experience what I personally think was a very pleasant one.  Although we had a little late start to Spring and delayed our planting, the gardens are surprisingly doing well and I have been harvesting my tomatoes for a few weeks and the plants are top heavy with so many tomatoes.  Sure looks like I am going to be pretty busy for the next few weeks.  Oh yes, and a few weeks ago I thought I was losing all my basil, I pinched half of the plants off and along with that basil and some from my son-in-law’s beautiful garden, I have four containers in my freezer of various pesto blends and because the plants are growing profusely, I am going to have many more.





With Connecticut’s Tax Free shopping last week, you could not find a parking space at any of the malls with all the moms and dads trying to save a few pennies outfitting their kids for school with the ridiculous prices of everything today. Granted salaries are much higher today, but with high mortgages, car payments, family vacations, tuitions, after-school programs and many other family obligations, that salary doesn’t go very far. Hopefully they were able to find a few bargains. Of course I could suggest that one of the best things that I know of that can help to keep your budget out of the red, would be to eat more meals at home. Honestly there are so many ways to feed your family deliciously, healthy and inexpensively by being creative in the kitchen and I will be sharing some of my ideas with you on my website throughout the year.


In reality I am celebrating the 20th anniversary of my column aka Cooking For Today , which was published in the Stratford Bard for 11 years and Healthy Cooking For Today on my website.  If you enjoy my site, please share it with your friends by word of mouth or on Facebook or Twitter and don’t forget to sign up as a member.  It is free and your information is not shared and is of interest only to me and means that you will receive a mini newsletter announcing an update.


For many mom's and dad’s their tear ducts will be overflowing when that long feared event finally comes to pass and I am sure that you will hear some gasps from the group and those familiar words “ I cannot believe our baby is five and is going to kindergarten.” Hey, I’m with you, and my salty tears have been streaking my makeup all week with the realization that my beautiful first great granddaughter’s first day of kindergarten is here, because it seems like only yesterday that I was holding this tiny, tiny premature baby in my arms, and here she is a strong, healthy, smart and a delightful 5 year old starting school.


But on the brighter side, she is so happy to join her many many friends on their exciting new journey.  She celebrated her excitement by hosting a Going To School Princess Party with a special guest Belle from Ct Princess Parties for all her friends. I understand that all the little princesses had a fabulous time and that Belle kept the party rolling and was fantastic!


Parents with their first college bound child will be stirring up some emotions and back pain as well, seeing off their son or daughter and packing and unpacking all the necessities they will need. But just as you become accustomed to their absence, bingo, they are home for Thanksgiving, Christmas break, Spring break and boom, it is May and the are home for the Summer.


The change of season will also bring changes in your diet, and the next few months of healthy eating could be a healthy approach to prepare you for the colder months that will follow.  Now is the time to take advantage of all the fresh vegetables that you will be harvesting from your garden and purchasing at the Farmer’s Market or your SuperMarket. Plan on preparing dishes that include vegetables abundant with Vitamin C, like tomatoes and peppers to prime your body to combat those dreaded winter colds and respiratory infections and don’t forget to get your flu shot.


Start preparing some of your bounty for the freezer to have on hand when fresh vegetable are not as abundant.  I will be using all the tomatoes that I have harvested from my garden and some that my son-in-law shared to make my roasted tomato sauce tonight. I discovered by roasting and seasoning the tomatoes with olive oil and the spices I use in my sauce worked out beautifully and saved time preparing the completed sauce when needed. I simple had to add tomato paste to my prepared sauce and simmer slowly for a hour or so or better yet, add everything to the crock pot and cook it on low for 3 to 4 hours-or to taste, to marry the flavors. Your will find the actual recipe by clicking All Post at the top of the page and choosing Harvesting Our Bounty 2016.


Because last month was designated as Blueberry Month and I served several blueberry recipes to my guest, and because I always photograph my food if I think that I may be using it on my site and because I didn’t use this in my last update, I am sharing a few of the blueberry recipes with you today. Just saying, when you see my food photos on my site, you are actually seeing my breakfast, lunch or dinner.  I have said it many times-I love food, love looking at it, love reading about it, love cooking and experimenting with it and boy, do I love it when it is dinner time!


CREATIVE CORNER Tim and Wife Kelley from Upstate New York have been harvesting their garden for a few weeks now, and their pick a few days ago revealed this assortment of some great looking vegetables. So anxious to see what the garden produces in the next few weeks, and I like to give a shout out to Kelley, to invite her to share some of her delicious sounding recipes.



IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO CONTRIBUTE TO MY CREATIVE CORNER SEND YOUR PHOTO AND INFORMATION TO MAY@HEALTHYCOOKINGFORTODAY.COM  If in the past you have sent something to my Creative Corner and it has not appeared on my site. Please contact me at the above email.




Blueberries are listed as number 4 on the Nutrition Action Healthletter because they are rich in fiber, Vitamin C and Antioxidants, and we all should know by now the importance of antioxidants in their fight to ward off the ill effects to our bodies from environmental toxins.  Blueberries can also help to prevent or relieve bladder infections, although cranberries have gotten more publicity.  Blueberries act as a natural aspirin and an antibacterial agent. Also some studies have shown that blueberries can help slow vision loss and they have been knick named Youth Pills.


This is one of my favorite muffin recipes- If you notice I always substitute healthier ingredients in my muffins to allow for the many vitamins and nutrients that our body needs.  When you are preparing a recipe, take the time to really notice the ingredients and if you can tweak it to make it healthier, experiment.  In baking the rule is to replace the same amount of the ingredients that you are omitting.  In regular cooking it isn’t that necessary.  Like many of my recipes, this is a basic recipe and you may substitute any fruit for the blueberries.  However the bananas are a substitute for the liquid in the recipe. I often make the muffins with dried fruit that I alway have on hand.


BANANA/BLUEBERRY WALNUT MUFFINS


¾ cup walnuts, chopped

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup white whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup Smart Balance or 1 stick butter, softened

¾ cup brown sugar

1 egg and 2 egg whites or ½ cup of Eggbeaters

1 ½ teaspoon vanilla

1 ½ cups of ripe mashed bananas, about 3

TOPPING

¼ cup walnuts, chopped

⅓ cup Smart Balance or butter

⅓ cup brown sugar

⅓ cup white whole wheat flour

½ teaspoon cinnamon


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Spray muffin tins with cooking spray on the bottom or line with paper liners.  Personally, I like to spray, because you lose half of your muffin that has stuck to the liner. I find that if you use a non-stick pan, spraying just the bottom works, but if you are using an older pan, I would lightly spray the sides as well.


If you prefer, spread nuts on a cookie tray and toast in oven for 8 to 10 minutes. Set side.  This is optional!  In a bowl combine flours, baking powder and salt.  In another bowl, cream butter, sugar, and vanilla until smooth and creamy.  Beat eggs if using Eggbeaters just need a quick stir.  Beat in eggs one at a time or add 1 egg and beat and add Eggbeaters and beat. Add mashed bananas and beat until combined.


Now pay attention, this is how to prevent baking a tough, dry muffin- Stir dry ingredients into banana mixture JUST UNTIL IT DISAPPEARS.  Gently stir in blueberries and nuts.  Spread batter into muffin cups to the top-THIS DOES NOT ALWAYS APPLY TO EVERY MUFFIN, BUT BECAUSE WE ARE USING THE BANANA, A HEAVIER INGREDIENT, THE BATTER DOES NOT RISE ENOUGH.  Mix walnuts, brown sugar, flour and cinnamon, add Smart Balance or butter and mix with fork or crumble with your fingers. Sprinkle on top of muffins. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when tested.  Remember all stoves are calibrated differently, so check frequently.


I was a little fancy this day because I had a friend for breakfast and served the muffin in a custard cup with a fresh fruit bowl with cottage cheese with a sprinkle of nuts and my homemade cream cheese spread.  To make the spread you will need a softened 8 ounce package of plain non-fat or light cream cheese and this is the fun part as you can use what ever combinations of add ins.  I used small amounts of crushed pineapple, dried cranberries, grated carrot and chopped walnuts in this particular blend.


Crisp have always been one of my family's favorite desserts and mine too, easy to prepare and so versatile as you can use a variety of fruits and toppings.


BLUEBERRY CRISPS


5 cups blueberries. Fresh or frozen blueberries

2 tablespoons sugar or to taste*

*Please note-there is ½ cup of brown sugar in the topping.

1 tablespoon lemon juice-if using fresh lemon, I like to add a little lemon zest.


Topping

¼ cup butter or Smart Balance

½ cup brown sugar

½  cup of flour

½ to ¾ cup of oats, regular or quick cooking

½ cup nuts or coconut or ¼ cup of each

If you prefer more topping increase the ingredients by half


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Lightly spray a buttered flavored cooking spray in a 9 x 13 glass baking dish and wipe dish to leave a light coating.  In a bowl, toss blueberries with sugar, if using, flour and lemon juice and add to baking dish.  In another bowl, mix brown sugar, flour and oats.  Add butter or Smart Balance and crumble with your fingers or a fork.  Sprinkle on top of blueberries and place in oven for 35 to 40 minutes. Serve with a topping of your choice.




BLUEBERRY COBBLER


To make a blueberry cobbler simply prepare the blueberries as you did for the blueberry crisp and place in the baking dish. However the topping will include thin small biscuits and the baking procedure is slightly different.  


1 cup of flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

4 tablespoons butter or Smart Balance

Milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl.  Blend in the butter or Smart Balance and add just enough milk to moisten. Roll out dough on a floured surface into a rectangle and roll up like a jelly roll, which will make thin layers of dough for the biscuits.  Cut the roll into ½ inch slices.  Place the berries in the oven until hot, remove from oven place the biscuits on top, making sure each serving will have a biscuit and bake for 10 to 15 minutes until biscuits are lightly browned.  Cool dish to warm before serving.  You may have extra biscuits,and you will find them quite delicious. Use this biscuit dough recipe often and like always the biscuits can be made in so many ways. You can add cheese. grated cheese or shredded cheese or herbs or spices.  Be creative!


This next suggestion for using blueberries is really a no brainer, but it comes in handy when unexpected guest arrive or the kids are hungry or your teenage grandkids visit, because they are always hungry!  Again this is really a creative endeavor, because anything goes and you can really have fun with it.


PUDDING PARFAITS


My parfaits were made last week and I wasn’t thinking of labor day, but one of them would work out well. Nada labor for you mom, as you just assemble them using ready made or almost ready made ingredients including ready made Kosyshack rice pudding. Jello pudding mix and light Cool Whip-is that sirens I hear? It must be the food police, because I am using processed food items.  Hey even the professionals say it is ok to indulge in moderation and physiologically it is even good because you feel that you are not being deprived.  Also if you divided the recipe by the number of servings, the amount that you consumed would not matter that much.


Simple layer angel cake, cookies, fruit, Cool Whip or cream, All Fruit Spread, hot fudge Sauce and nuts or anything else you can think of-you get the picture.  Eat it and forget it, but if you worry about it and dwell on it, PHYSIOLOGICALLY IT IS BAD FOR YOU!  Of course if you have a health problem and it would be dangerous for you to partake in this practise’ by all means DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!




Although my parfaits look dangerous, honestly for an occasional immoderation treat, not so bad. Actually in this close up photo the parfaits look much larger.  The parfait on the left begins with a layer of rice pudding mixed with a small amount of light Cool Whip mixed in to make it lighter and fluffy, next a layer of blueberries continuing with that pattern and ending with a layer of Cool Whip a layer of blueberries scattered with slivered almonds.


The parfait on the right starts with a layer of angel cake, a layer of pudding, a layer of Cool Whip and a layer of blueberries,
pudding an a ring of Cool Whip filled with blueberries. Of course the combinations are endless.


If you recall seeing the photo of the blueberry crisp above that is topped with what looks like strawberry ice cream that looks apsolutely delicious, you will be surprised to know it isn't ice cream, but a delicious dessert called yonanas. Unbelievably my yonanas dessert maker turns frozen bananas and any kind of frozen fruit into a wonderful healthy deliciious ice cream like dessert.  The frozen bananas when put through the yonanas dessert maker act as the cream and can be used alone or with add ins or with other frozen fruits.  The yonanas also uses fruits to make sorbet and combination of ingredients to make graham cracker crumb crust ice cream pies.  I could go on and on as I have had my yonanas dessert maker for awhile.  It would just take to much space to share all the great healthy desserts that I have made.

Check it out on the internet yonanas.com for information and hundreds of recipes.


This is one of my go-to desserts! Fruit Salad Sorbet-1 cup of frozen fruit salad-Insert in dessert maker-enjoy


I treated myself Sunday to this delicious Peanut Butter yonanas-ingredients frozen banana and peanut butter.

Of course I added a little light Hershey's dark chocolate, some nuts and a dab of cream.  It was great and believe it or nut it supplied me with a fruit, protein in the peanut butter and the nuts and the dark chocolate syrup and a squirt of whipped cream, filled with air didn't do much damage.




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