How To Make Healthy School Lunches

September 11, 2014 in Parenting

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healthy-school-lunch1It really can’t be said enough times – what your child eats at school directly affects his or her level of energy and the ability to learn. Getting together healthy lunch day after day can be quite a task and even though my children are way past the school years, I do remember dealing with this issue and learning as I went along. And if your child is an active participant in sports, you have even more to consider. I am going to keep adding to the school lunch topic on this website – hopefully it will give you the assistance you need and it will make your daily tasks easier!

Think Salads!


Maybe you are one of the lucky parents whose children attend a school with cafeteria that serves fresh salads daily. In that case your job is to encourage your child to try it. It may be as good idea to start packing salads regularly. And in that case, you will need to make sure that the salad includes foods your child likes. That means suggesting items that can make a salad and listening to your child’s ideas as well. Try things like cheese, cucumbers or even bacon bits – you may be surprised at what kids can come up with!

Make Clean Sandwiches


Here is what the word “clean” means: start with whole grain bread, use natural nut butter with strawberries instead of the traditional peanut butter and jelly (if you school allows peanut butter sandwiches at all – you will need to check for that as many schools now ask for parents not to send anything with nuts for their children’s lunches) Another clean lunch you can try is making wraps with chicken strips and greens and add yogurt for an after lunch snack. AS you start thinking “clean” the ideas will just keep coming!

Get Rid of the Juice


Yes – juices are definitely better than sodas, but lot of them are still very high in sugar and calories. Try skipping the juice boxes and replace them with water. If there is a problem with that, try filling a bottle with one part juice and two parts water.

Get Smart with Snacks


No chips please – you can give your child healthier snacks! Try servings of crunchy whole-grain cereals or granola with dried fruit. And if chips are demanded, make your own. It is not difficult – just get some corn or flour tortillas, bake them and season them yourself. And if chips are an absolute must, at least get the low-fat ones!

Fake a Cool Lunch


Let’s think that your child sees another eating pizza for lunch and now wants that as well. Yes, you can create a pizza for lunch – get a whole-grain bagel, spread some vegetable marina sauce on sprinkle with low-fat cheese. And think about adding a low-fat brownie as a treat – that will make the pizza eating child watch in envy!

Think Leftovers

So you go to the trouble of making healthy dinners each day – why not make a little extra and use it for next day’s lunch? For example: if you had chicken, brown rice and asparagus for dinner, pack it into a wrap – your child will love it!

Satisfy the Sweet Tooth


All kids have it so you need to address it. Instead of cookies that can be full of sugar (unless you made them yourself and know what’s in them), think about filling a little container with strawberries. You can even sprinkle a little sugar on them for the extra sweet treat. And since I mentioned making your own – there are thousands of recipes for homemade fruit squares or little muffins you can make in no time!

For more help with your children’s school lunches, check out:

Guide to Healthy School Lunches

Hope this information was helpful to you – please send in your comments, suggestions and experiences, your input is always welcomed and very much appreciated!


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All About Pomegranate

March 11, 2014 in Health

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pomegranate-1000This wonderful fruit is deliciously juicy and explodes with antioxidants. It may take little extra effort to use, but it is definitely worth it!

How to Choose It:

Look for large, firm fruits that feel heavy for its size. The leathery skin can also vary from deep red to reddish brown, but it should be shiny. Pass on fruit that is shrunken or has soft spots.

How to Store It:

Pomegranate will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. Once taken out, the seeds can be refrigerated, covered for up to 5 days or frozen, tightly wrapped for up to 3 months.

How to Prepare It:

Slice the fruit in half horizontaly. Make a few slits in the membrane. Submerge a half, cut-side down in a large bowl of water. Pry it apart. The seeds will sink to the bottom, the membrane will float to the top. Transfer the seeds to a paper towel to drain.

How to Make It:

Try this: Toss together 1 bunch of trimmed watercress, 1 thinly sliced small fennel bulb, 1/2 cup of pomegranate seeds, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Season with salt and black pepper.

Few more suggestions:

In a cocktail: Add a splash of pomegranate juice and few seeds to you mint mojito.

In a salad: Sere roasted squash or carrots on a bed of arugula, topped with crumbled goat cheese, pomegranate seeds and a mustard vinaigrette.

In a Pilaf: Fold the seeds into cooked barley along with chopped apple, parsley and roaster almonds.

In a Dessert: Sprinkle seeds over scoops of lemon sherbet and serve with ginger cookie.

 

Hope you have enjoyed this information – please send me your comments, your input is always welcomed and very much appreciated.

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How to Use Kale

March 5, 2014 in Recipes

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SONY DSCKale is a very versatile leafy green that has a well-deserved reputation as a superfood. It is loaded with fibre and will aid in lowering cholesterol. It is also full of vitamin K, which is great for bone health and vitamin A that will  help strengthen bones, eyes and teeth.

Here are a few recipes that will help you in figuring out just what to do with this superfood:

Kale Smoothie:

smoothie

  • Puree together a cup of each: steamed kale and ice cubes, half of chopped and peeled apple, a banana and few generous splashes of almond milk until smooth and frosty.

Kale Chips:

chips

  • Toss together about 6 cups of torn, steamed kale, a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of each salt and sweet paprika.
  • Bake in a single layer on parchment paper lined baking sheets and 350F until chips are crispy and dark green.

Marinated Kale Salad:

salad

  • Steam and chop a bunch of kale.
  • Toss it with small handful of chopped dried cherries and couple of spoonfuls each of olive oil, orange juice and honey.
  • Let stand for 1 hour, then sprinkle with toaster chopped hazelnuts.

Walnut Kale Pesto:

walnut pesto

  • Steam, chop and blanch bunch of kale then chill it in ice water.
  • Pat the kale dry.
  • In a food processor, pulse it together with a handful of each toasted chopped walnuts and grated Parmesan cheese and some chopped garlic.
  • Pulse in a few generous drizzles of olive oil, a couple of spoonfuls of lemon juice and a pinch of each salt and pepper until smooth.

Lemony Kale:

lemony pesto

 

  • Cook garlic slices in a little olive oil until fragrant.
  • Stir in 6 cups of torn, steamed kale.
  • Cook until slightly wilted and dark green.
  • Stir in a squeeze of lemon juice and pinch of each salt and pepper.

Hope you will enjoy this information – please send me your comments, your input is always welcomed and very much appreciated.

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Truth About Food Myths

March 3, 2014 in Health

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food mythsDid you hear the one about calcium causing heart disease? Or the one that says that wheat makes you fat or that sea salt is healthier than table salt?

Sometimes it is difficult to know what to believe. I like to “research” stuff – I constantly look for valuable information and try to share with everyone in a simple, easy to understand manner. Here are a few “myths” I decided to look into:

1. Colon Cleansing Gets the Body Rid of Toxins:

This went from “absolutely true” to “unnecessary and potentially dangerous” and it did fall out of favor in the early 20th century. Then it re-surfaced few decades ago, despite the fact that it had no proven merit. The body does clean itself 24 hours a day, seven days a week via kidneys, liver, colon, sweat and breath vapour. And there are no credible studies that would show that it is possible to cleanse the body of food additives, pesticide residues, caffeine or any pollutants. Better way to deal with toxins? Eat better and eat clean: cut out processed foods, such as white bread, deli meats, fast food and candy – stick to vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes, nuts and fish.

2. Soy Causes Beast Cancer:

This myth comes from the fact that soy contains plant estrogen. And since estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer is stimulated by estrogen, soy was labeled to be the stimulator of breast cancer. This has now been disproved. All studies that were conducted by health experts from 2009-2011 show that soy was not associated with increase in deaths of breast cancer patients.It actually showed almost opposite: since estrogen from soy takes the place of human estrogen in the body and it is weaker than human estrogen, there is less stimulation of breast cancer with soy in the diet than without it. So – including soy in your diet is a good idea.

3. Wheat Makes You Fat:

Some of this no doubt came out because of certain diet books that blames wheat for obesity and host of other medical conditions. People who eat lot of refined wheat flour (in food like white bread and pastries) will gain weight. If they cut out the refined foods and eat more balanced diet, they will loose weight. It really is that simple. There are not any scientific studies that support wheat as a reason for obesity problems or support what-free diet for weight loss. Weight loss comes from physical activity and reducing calories. Replace refined wheat with whole grains and you will feel full and eat less.

4. Calcium Causes Heart Disease:

For decades, doctors prescribed calcium supplements to prevent and treat osteoporosis, because it is so important for bone health. But a collection of studies conducted in 2010 showed that taking more than 1000 milligrams of calcium a day was in fact associated with increased heart attack risk. The reason: excess calcium may possibly harden and block your arteries. But – that fact does not hold truth if you get the mineral from calcium rich foods, such as milk, yogurt and fortified soy beverages. Low doses of calcium – no more than 300 milligrams are considered only if getting enough calcium from food is a struggle.

5. You Need Eight Cups of Water Daily:

We all know that hydration is crucial to good health – especially during summer months. But drinking 8 cups of water may not be right for everyone. Water requirements depends on your environment, activity level and general heath status. You will need to drink more of you are active, live in the high altitude or when it is humid outside. Studies show that adequate fluid intake is 13 cups a day for men and 9 cups of fluid intake for women. Those numbers are for all fluids – not just water. Every beverage counts, as does food intake. Food actually contributed to about 20-25 percent of your daily fluid intake. But since it is not possible to measure the fluid levels in everything you eat and drinks, focus on the colour of your urine instead. You should hydrate yourself so you don’t feel thirsty and your urine should be consistently pale yellow.

6. Fasting After 7:30 pm Will Help You Loose Weight:

Oh yes – you can thank Oprah for this one! It was stressed repeatedly on her show in 1992 by her trainer Bob Greene. She did follow his advice and we all know – she did loose a lots of weight. However – this strategy alone does not hold much merit (and Oprah did gain her weight back). Again – simple statement hold true:”If you eat too much, you will gain weight” So – don’t go more than four hours between meals and snacks during the day . That way, you won’t come home hungry and eat all evening until bedtime. And if your dinner doesn’t fill you up, have sensible snacks sch as fruits, yogurt or cereal with milk. And also — avoid eating while you are distracted – such as while watching TV!

7. Removing Gluten From Your Diet Will Make You Loose Weight:

It was the much publicized diagnosis or frequent celiac disease that made us more aware of gluten. But many people do mistakenly think that gluten-free diet is meant for weight loss. The fact is that Gluten-Free diets are designed for people who suffer from celiac disease and those with nonceliac gluten sensitivity. For those, gluten-containing foods made with wheat, rye or barley lead to a host of symptoms including anemia, gastrointestinal problems and skin rashes. If you don’ suffer from this disease, gluten poses no problem. Consider the fact, that whole grain wheat, barley and rye are nutritional powerhouses – they provide  good sources of B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium, iron, fibre and antioxidants – all of which are helpful for healthy living and disease prevention. Also consider that gluten-free products are often higher in calories than their gluten-containing counterparts.

8. Frozen Vegetables and Fruits are Less Nutritious Than Fresh:

We are bombarded every day with advice to eat less packaged and processed foods – and that makes people shy away from frozen produce. In this case, the only processing is washing, chopping and freezing – and that is good for vegetables and fruits. Studies show that fresh fruits and vegetables usually lose nutrients more rapidly than frozen ones.Frozen vegetables are quick-frozen within hours after picking, locking in nutrients, When buying frozen produce, be sure to read labels and choose products that contain no added sugar, fat or salt.

9. Sea Salt is Healthier than Table Salt:

Since sea salt is minimally processed, it is mistakenly labelled as being the healthier option. Both salts contain the same amount of sodium. Chefs like sea salt because it adds crunchy texture and strong flavor and it contains tiny traces of minerals. But – the sodium content makes it equally harmful to your health if you consume it in excess. THe mineral content is so minimal that it will not positively impact your health.

10. Eating Too Much Sugar Causes Diabetes:

This is an oversimplification of facts. People who have diabetes are advised to cut back on sugar so this may be why sugar has been labelled as the cause of the disease. The cause of diabetes is lot more complex. Some risk factors include obesity, inactivity and family history of the disease. People with high blood pressure and high cholesterol are also at risk. While you will not get diabetes from eating sugar, limiting sweets is a good idea for everyone. Choosing whole grains instead of refined grains, planning regular balanced meals and drinking water as main beverage are always good ideas.

 

Hope you have enjoyed this information – please send me your comments and experiences – your input is always welcomed and very much appreciated!

 

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Gluten-Free Sandwich Bread Recipe

February 28, 2014 in Breads, Recipes

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gluten free sandwich breadThis delicious bread will only take you about 10 minutes to put together and you will be able to make anything from grilled cheese, delicious sandwich or French toast. And it will freeze without a problem so you can make extras and enjoy them at a later date.

Gluten-Free Sandwich Bread:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of tapioca starch
  • 1 cup of brown rice flour
  • 3/4 cup of potato starch
  • 3 tablespoons of ground flaxseed
  • 2 teaspoons of quick-rising (instant) dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons of xanthan gun
  • 3/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1-1/3 cup of warm milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon of liquid honey
  • 2 teaspoons of light olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of cider vinegar

Directions:

  1. In large bowl, whisk together tapioca starch, brown rice flour, potato starch, flaxseeds, yeast, xanthan gun and salt
  2. Whisk together milk, eggs, honey, oil and vinegar.
  3. Pour over tapioca starch mixture and stir until well combined.
  4. Scrape into parchment paper lined 8 x 4 inch loaf pan and smooth the top.
  5. Cover loosely with plastic wrap
  6. Let stand in warm draft-free place until loaf rises just above the rim of pan – about 20 minutes.
  7. Bake in 350F oven until light golden and a tester inserted in centre comes out clean – about 1 hour.
  8. Transfer to rack
  9. Serve warm or let cool.

 

I hope you will enjoy this recipe – please send me your comments, your input is always welcomed and very much appreciated!

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Great Tips to Make Healthy School Lunches

September 9, 2013 in Parenting

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Healthy lunch boxFirst thing you have to remember is that what your child eats at school is the major source of essential vitamins and minerals needed for developments over the years. The food you pack will give your child the energy and nutrients needed to effectively learn and plan at school. Without sufficient energy, your child may become tired too quickly and find it difficult to concentrate. And just like in an adult situation – if you get hungry you may reach for an unhealthy junk food and so can your child.

In getting ready to plan your child’s school lunch, think about food groups and aim to have at least three or four food groups included. It doesn’t have to be a sandwich – you can get more creative than that! You can use pita, flatbreads, tortilla or even cereal instead of plain bread – it will make the lunch more interesting.

Here are 10 sample lunch combination ideas:

  1. Hard boiled egg, red pepper strips, tortilla or flat bread, fruit yogurt
  2. Tuna or salmon salad, snow peas and carrot strips, yogurt dip for the veggies, cereal snack
  3. Ham on English muffin, baby corn, milk
  4. Cheese cubes, bran or oatmeal muffin, cherry tomatoes, humus dip
  5. Rice cakes, melon balls, pudding
  6. Cottage cheese cup, whole grain crackers, fruit smoothie, sunflower seeds
  7. Cheese filled pasta, zucchini sticks, cauliflower pieces, yogurt dip,fruit
  8. Marinated tofu, sliced mango, bread sticks, chocolate milk
  9. Marinated cooked tofu in a tortilla wrap with shredded lettuce and grated carrot, fruit yogurt

10.  Hot cereal (in thermos) with berries, milk or soy beverage, fruit

Planning snacks:

Think of snacks as mini meals – here are a few ideas:

  • Wholegrain crackers with a cheese stick
  • Fresh fruit with yogurt dip
  • Yogurt and small oatmeal muffin
  • Homemade trail mix: dried cranberries, raisins, dried apricots, apple rings, sunflower seeds, favourite cereal. You can mix a lot of this ahead of time and store in air-tight container

Get Your Child Involved:

From planning to packing, it is a good idea to get not only your child, but also your family members get involved. If you do that, your child will more likely eat everything that is in the lunch bag – simply because they feel they chose it.

You can have older children help making sandwiches, pita wraps and vegetables and have the younger child do the packing.

Take your child grocery shopping and let him or her choose some of the foods – like vegetables, breads, fruits, yogurts, keeping an watchful eye on them making healthy choices.

Hope this information was helpful to you, please send in your comments, suggestions and experiences, your input is always welcomed and very much appreciated

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How to Freeze Fruits

July 22, 2013 in Household Hints

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fruits01This is the time of year when fresh fruits and vegetables are plentiful and ready to be preserved for those months of cool weather and high priced imports in your supermarket.

Freezing your fruits and vegetables is easy – here is the basic guide to get you started preserving your favourite fruits!

How to Freeze Fruits :

  • Freeze only high quality fruits
  • Always use garden-fresh fruits and freeze within a few hours of gathering
  • Select varieties of fruits that are recommended for freezing
  • Clean and cut up fruits as for eating, cooking or baking
  • Prepare and pack quickly and carefully, working with only enough fruits  to fill 3 or 4 containers at a time
  • Pack fruits  in freezer containers, freezer bags of freezer wrappings.
  • Store your fruits for up to 1 year.

How to Package Fruits:

Dry Pack: Suitable for those fruits which can be frozen without any preparation other than washing, draining, discarding imperfect ones and packing – i.e. blueberries, cranberries, currants, gooseberries, rhubarb.

Dry Sugar Pack: Suitable for those fruits which can be combined with sugar, packaged and frozen. Fold recommended amount of sugar carefully into the fruit and package to freeze. See chart below for details.

Syrup Pack: Suitable for fruits which are packed in a syrup of a strength best suited to tartness of the fruit. (see chart below for details) Slice or cut the fruits directly into the container. Leave berries whole, if desired. Be sure that the syrup covers the fruit and that there is enough head space for expansion during freezing. To keep fruit under syrup, especially apricots and peaches, place a piece of crumpled waxed paper or cellophane on top.

How to make syrup:

Add sugar to boiling water and stir until dissolved. Chill only – do not cook or heat,

Thin syrup:1 cup of sugar + 2 cups of water

Medium syrup: 1 cup of sugar + 1 cup of water

Heavy syrup: 1 cup of sugar + 3/4 cups of water

To Prevent Discolouration of Fruit:

Syrup Pack – add 1/4 teaspoon of ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) to 4 cups of syrup and stir to dissolve

Dry Sugar Pack – for apples, apricots and peaches – dissolve 1/8 teaspoon of ascorbic acid in 2 tablespoons of cold water per 2 cups of prepared fruit, sprinkle over prepared fruit and mix gently.

Serving Frozen Fruits:

To Thaw – leave in unopened container in refrigerator for about 6 hours or at room temperature for about 2 hours

To Use in Pies, Muffins or Cobblers – thaw in unopened package just until fruit can be separated. Continue as with fruit that has not been frozen.

To Use in Sauces, Jams, Jellies or Preserves - place frozen fruit directly in saucepan and continue as with fruit that has not been frozen.

To Use as Fresh Fruit – serve when partially thawed – a few ice crystals should remain

Freezing Fruits Easy Chart:


FRUIT PREPARATION TREATMENT TO YIELD 4 CUPS
Apples Wash, pare, core and cut into slices Treat to prevent discolouration.Use syrup pack or dry sugar pack 2-1/2 to 3 lbs. of apples
Applesauce Prepare your favourite recipe Chill thoroughly and pack 2-1/2 – 3-1/2 lbs. Of apples
Apricots Wash and peel if desired. Leave whole,halve or cut into quarters. Remove pits. Treat to prevent discolouration. Use thin syrup pack or dry sugar pack 0 2.3 cups of sugar to 4 cups of apricots. 1-1/2 to 2 cups
Blueberries Sort out imperfect berries, wash, stem and drain Dry pack without sugar or use 2.3 cups of sugar to 4 cups of prepared berries 1-2 quarts
Cherries – Sour Sort out imperfect ones, wash, stem and pit Dry sugar pack – use 1 cup of sugar to 4 cups of fruit or syrup pack – use heavy syrup 2-1/2 to 3 lbs. Unpitted
Currants and Cranberries Stem and wash Dry pack without sugar or syrup 1 lb.
Peaches Dip in boiling water for 1-2 minutes, then run under cold water. Remove skins and pits, then slice directly into sugar or syrup Treat to prevent discolouration. Syrup pack – use medium syrup or dry sugar pack using 2/3 cups of sugar to 4 cups of prepared fruit. 2-3 lbs.
Plums Wash, half and pit Treat to prevent discolouration. Dru sugar pack – use 2.3 cups of sugar to 4 cups of fruit or syrup pack – use thin syrup 2-3 lbs.
Raspberries Sort out imperfect ones and wash Dry sugar pack – use 1.2 cup of sugar to 4 cups of prepared fruit or Syrup pack – use thin syrup 2-2-1/2 quarts
Rhubarb Wash and cut into 1″ length or make into sauce Dry pack – without sugar or syrup or dry pack using 1 cup of sugar to 4 cups of prepared fruit.For sauce – sweeten to taste and pack cold 2-2-1/2 lbs.
Strawberries Sort our imperfect ones, wash, sort and hull, Slice if desired Dry sugar pack – use 1/2 cup of sugar to 4 cups of prepared fruit or for syrup pack – use medium syrup 1-1/2 to 2 cups

For Guide to Freezing Vegetables, please visit:

http://www.mama-knows.com/recipes/guide-to-freezing-vegetables.html

I hope this simple guise will help you – please send in your comments and suggestions, your input is always welcomed!

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How to Freeze Vegetables

July 2, 2013 in Recipes

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Preserving all those wonderful vegetables that are available this time of year is a great idea – whether you harvest them from your own garden or visit your local farmer’s market. It may take a little time, but you will be glad you did it when, during the bleak winter months, you will be able to pull out a bag of these goodies and get it on your table quickly and inexpensively!

Guide to Freezing Vegetables:

  • Freeze only high quality vegetables of proper maturity
  • Always use fresh garden vegetables and freeze them within a few hours of gathering or purchasing
  • Select the variety of vegetables that is recommended for freezing
  • Clean and cup up vegetables as you would for cooking
  • Prepare and pack quickly
  • All vegetables must be blanched before freezing to retard enzyme action and thus retain colour,flavoiur and texture.
  • To remove insects that may be present in broccoli, brussels sprouts or cauliflower, immerse prepared vegetables for 30 minutes in a brine made from about 1 tablespoon of salt to 5 cups of water. Rinse throughly and blanch.
  • Pack in suitable freezer containers, freezer bags or freezer wrappings
  • Store frozen vegetables for up to one year

Blanching Vegetables:

Vegetables contain enzymes, which, if not controlled by blanching will cause undesirable changes in flavour, colour and texture of the vegetables when frozen.

Place vegetables in a wire basket, colander or cheesecloth bag, Lower into vigorously boiling water , cover and immediately start timing (see chart below for recommended times). Keep heat on high so that water will quickly return to boiling. As soon as water returns to a vigorous boil, remove cover and move vegetable container up and down to ensure uniform blanching. Follow the blanching time, then remove and chill immediately by p0lacing under cold running water, Drain thoroughly and do not allow the vegetables to remain in the cold water any longer than necessary. Blanch only one pound of vegetables at a time.

Vegetable Preparation Blanching Time Cooking Time Before Serving
Asparagus Select young, tender stalks, remove tough ends and scales,. Wash, trim, cut in 1″ pieces or leave whole Small – 3 minutes, Large – 4 minutes 5-8 minutes
Beans – Green ot Waxed Select young tender beans. Wash. Trim, cut into uniform pieces or leave whole Cut – 3 minutes, Whole – 4 minutes Green – 7-10 minutes, Wax – 5-8 minutes
Beans – Lima Select young, tender beans. Shell and wash Small – 2 minutes, Large – 4 minutes 10 – 15 minutes
Broccoli Select dark green, compact heads, Trim off woody stalk. Cut through heads and stalk so that pieces are about 1" across. Wash carefully Medium – 3 minutes, Large – 4 minutes 5-8 minutes
Brussel Sprouts Select deep green, compact heads. Trim, removing coarse outer leaves. Wash carefully Small – 3 minutes, Medium – 4 minutes, Large – 5 minutes 5-9 minutes
Carrots Select young, tender carrots. Remove tops, wash and scrape. Slice, dice or leave small carrots whole. Cut – 3 minutes, whole – 5 minutes 4-8 minutes
Cauliflower Select compact, white tender heads. Break into florets about 1" in diameter. Wash carefully 3 minutes 3-6 minutes
Corn – whole kernel Select freshly picked corn and prepare immediately. Husk, remove silk, trim. Cut kernels from cobs after blanching 4 minutes 4-5 minutes
Corn – on the cob Husk remove silk and sort for size Small – 7 minutes, Medium – 9 minutes, Large – 11 minutes 3-6 minutes
Peas Select young, tender peas. Shell and wash 2 minutes 4-7 minutes
Spinach. Chard and other greens Select only tender leaves. Discard tough stems and bruised leaves. Wash very thoroughly 2 minutes 4-6 minutes
Squash and Pumpkin Select well matured vegetables. Remove seeds and stringy portion. Cut into small pieces and boil until tender. Cool quickly and remove rind. Mash or sieve. Pack and freeze. None As a vegetable – reheat. For pies = thaw and use as canned or cooked.

To Cook Frozen Vegetables:

  • Cook most vegetables without thawing.
  • Vegetables requiring partial thawing should be thawed in an unopened container.
  • Thaw asparagus, broccoli and spinach just enough to break apart.
  • Corn on the cob should be thawed completely before cooking.
  • Pumpkin or squash can be thawed completely and used as you would for cooked or canned.
  • In general, frozen vegetables are cooked by the same methods as fresh except that cooking time is reduced to about 1/2 the time.

For Guide to Freezing Fruits, please visit:

http://www.mama-knows.com/recipes/guide-to-freezing-fruits.html

Hope this guide has been helpful to you – please send in your comments and suggestions – your input is always appreciated!

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All About Greens

June 18, 2013 in Featured Articles

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greensDid you decide to eat healthier this year? You probably already know that greens are nutritious and overall really good for you. Now the challenge is to know all about them and also how to make them taste delicious.

Here is the information about greens readily available in your local markets:

Collard Greens

collard greens

These greens are a great addition to pork dishes. But this fiber-rich favorite is quite a bit more versatile than you may think. Try collard with sliced avocado and sesame seeds or baked with cheese as a creamy gratin.

Bok Choy

bok choy

Don’t just add this green to stir fry – these vitamin C packed leaves can be eaten raw, added into salads or even chicken noodle soup

Spinach

spinach

Tied with kale as the most nutritious of all greens, spinach delivers more than a dozen flavonoids (anti-inflammatories and cancer fighting compounds) and half the recommended dose of vision-maintaining vitamin A in one 1/2 cup serving. You can add it to your omelet in the morning, to your salad at noon and just about any meal at dinner time.

Dandelion Greens

dandelion greens

With their peppery taste and abundance of vitamin K, these greens are best served simply – sautéed with olive oil and garlic or tossed in a salad in place of arugula

Mustard Greens

mustard greens

These vitamin A rich leaves are anything but subtle. They will add spicy jolt (much like horseradish) to braises, curries and pastas.

Kale

kale

Rich in vitamin C, kale makes awesome Caesar salad, brightens soups and will supercharge pesto. You can easily find and use either Tuscan kale (not the curly one) or the more popular curly one.

Beet Greens

beet greens

You can thinly slice these strong, potassium-rich leaves and mix them with shredded beets for a delicious salad, or combine torn leaves with still-warm roasted beets – that will make the leaves wilt and you will have a great addition to any dish!

Swiss Chard

swiss chard

If you  want a break from spinach or kale, use this wonderful green. Swiss chard is a powerhouse in its own right. You can use its sweet stems and leaves in any pasta or add them to any soup. Just a note: the stems need extra cooking time, so chop them up and add them to the dish a few minutes before the leaves.

Escarole

Here here are few tips for you:

 

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How to Talk to Children About Cancer

June 12, 2013 in Health

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holding handI gave this post a lot of thought – most probably because I was not faced with this challenge personally and could only imagine the dilemma those who need to explain the situation to children go through.

Children will ask questions and the answer on this topic are critical. The situation becomes increasingly difficult if person affected by cancer is someone close to them – someone they love.

Speaking to children openly and making sure they ask all questions that are on their minds will help. The most important thing is to handle their inquiries and their feelings with care.\You will need to recognize that every child will have a unique reaction. Some may be scared, others angry and most of them overwhelmed. You may even find that the child feels guilty or responsible.

It will be important to keep asking them questions – they may not know how to put their feeling into words. The more you talk and the more you allow them to talk, the better the communication will be. Recognize that children will need your help to describe what they are feeling.

To have the conversation, you will need to look for a special time, special quiet moment, like going for a walk, organizing a special picnic or basically finding a little uninterrupted time – it will go a long way.

I would say That the most important thing here is honesty. Children deserve to hear the truth and they can handle it. Talk king to them about illness or death is difficult, but not talking about it is a who;e lot worse.

You may also want to make sure that people your child is close to, like teachers, counsellors, frinds etc. are aware of the situation and provide support.

In summary – keeping the lines of communication comfortably open will go a long way and will definitely be very helpful in a difficult situation.

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