All About Allspice!

All About Allspice!

Contrary to popular belief, allspice is not actually a blend of different spices. Allspice is actually a berry that comes from the “Pimenta dioica” tree, native to Jamaica and other areas of the West Indies as well as Southern and Central America. You can find allspice in the dried berry form, or as a ground powder.

We have Christopher Columbus to thank for bringing these little allspice berries with him to Europe and introducing them to the rest of the world after he thought he’d found the black peppercorns he’d been looking for. He named them “pimienta” which is Spanish for “the pepper spice.” Columbus made a happy mistake that day! Allspice berries are actually a little bit larger than peppercorns, and they turn a reddish-brown color when they’ve been dried.

Jamaica grows most of the world’s allspice but it’s also grown in Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico. The quality, however, is the best when allspice is grown in Jamaica where the climate is perfect for the crop.

You may have had that same jar of allspice kicking around in your pantry for months, but in the Caribbean, allspice is one of the most important spices in the kitchen. Native to this part of the world, allspice is one of the predominant flavors in Caribbean cuisine. If you’ve ever enjoyed “jerk” chicken or meat, you’ve enjoyed the spicy flavor of allspice.

Allspice has been used as a digestive in traditional medicine for many hundreds of years. If you add allspice to foods that are a little hard to digest (the foods that give you gas!) you might find a difference. Allspice is a highly antibacterial food and is also effective in decreasing inflammation in the body.

I love the peppery taste of allspice and I use it all the time in stews, soups, and curries. Add some allspice to your marinades, fruit pies, and meat rubs. I bet you’ll love it!

Now it’s time for your Trick:

Whole allspice berries will keep indefinitely if you store them in an airtight container out of direct sunlight but the ground powder should only be kept for a few months, tops.

Your Tip:

If you buy allspice in its whole form, grind the berries as you need them with a mortar and pestle or a pepper mill. They tend to lose their aroma and flavor shortly after they’ve been harvested.

And your Recipe:

Print Recipe
Pumpkin, Parsnip, and Squash Beef Stew
Course Soups & Stews
Cuisine Slow Cooker
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Course Soups & Stews
Cuisine Slow Cooker
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in the slow cooker.
  2. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours.
  3. Remove bay leaves and stir well, serving when beef falls apart and vegetables are tender.

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Health Benefits of Purple Potatoes!

Health Benefits of Purple Potatoes!

I love purple potatoes. So does my daughter. I remember the first time I made them for her when she was still little–she was delighted! Young children have some of the best reactions to some of the more odd vegetables, though I know a lot of adults that react the same way.

If you’ve never seen purple potatoes, then all I have to say is that they are what they seem: purple through and through – the skin, and even the flesh of the potato is a striking bright violet color. They make for a very boldly colored side dish.

Sure, this potato is full of vitamin C, potassium, iron, and folic acid, but the best thing about this bright-colored veggie is that the color itself is one of the key health benefactors! That purple flare is due to the antioxidant anthocyanin. Anthocyanin can help boost your immune system along with the fight against cancer and help protect your heart. Like I always say, eat a colorful variety of produce!

Here’s Your Tip

If you want an extra kick of nutrition, keep the skin on the potatoes; though be sure to wash them thoroughly.

Here’s Your Trick

Simply sub purple potatoes for the standard russet potato you would normally use for mashed potatoes. The color doesn’t affect the consistency and texture, and the antioxidant level is higher in purple potatoes than it is in russets.

And Here’s Your Recipe

Print Recipe
Fall Roasted Purple Potatoes
Course Side Dishes
Cuisine Vegetarian
Servings
Ingredients
Course Side Dishes
Cuisine Vegetarian
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Wash potatoes thoroughly and cut them into either cubes or wedges (leaving the skins on).
  3. Place in baking dish.
  4. Drizzle olive oil over potatoes and make sure they’re evenly covered.
  5. Then add the spices, and bake for roughly 15-20 minutes or until tender.
  6. Enjoy!
Recipe Notes

And if you can't get purple potatoes, any old plain tater will do!

Per Serving: 101 Calories; 2g Fat; 2g Protein; 19g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 36mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 1 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Fat. Points: 3

In the mood for some more wonderful fall comfort food recipes? Check out our collection of delicious Casseroles, Soups, & Stews ebooks here!

All About Artichokes

All About Artichokes

Artichokes are actually big thistles, a member of the sunflower family. I bet you didn’t know that, did you? Watch for when they are coming into peak season so you can take advantage of the sales that are going to be out there and enjoy this fun, fiber-filled veggie. Don’t know how? That’s why I’m here!

Here’s today’s TRICK: Choose heavy ‘chokes, size doesn’t matter—big ones grow at the top of the stalk, the little ones come out of the sides. You want the leaves to “squeak” when you rub them. Little streaks of brown are indicative of a delicious flavor, nothing to worry about. If the ‘choke is starting to “bloom” and the leaves are opening and it feels light and hollow, it’s too old, don’t buy it.

And here’s a TIP: For easy preparation, wash with cool water, cut off the stem and the tip with a sharp knife. Use your kitchen shears to snip all the little sharp ends off the individual leaves—don’t worry, it doesn’t take much time at all. Steam standing up in a vegetable steamer till tender (you can pull a leaf off easily) and serve with a lemon/mayo dipping sauce. (I use low-fat mayo mixed with fresh lemon juice, about 2:1) YUM!!

And your RECIPE:

If preparing those big old artichokes intimidates you, you can still enjoy the delectable artichoke heart with this easy recipe.

Print Recipe
All About Artichokes
Servings
Ingredients
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. In a food processor, add all ingredients and chop, chop, chop till smooth.
  2. Heat and serve with the usual fixin's: veggies, healthy chips, cut-up whole grain bread...
Recipe Notes

COOKING NOTES: You could double this and serve at a party, you could use as is and give it to the kids for a fun chip and dip lunch. It really takes almost no time to make and it's substantial enough, too. Make sure it's smooth, no chunks allowed--chunks will probably freak out the kids.

Per Serving: 38 Calories; 2g Fat; 2g Protein; 2g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 8mg Cholesterol; 131mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 0 Non-Fat Milk; 1/2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates. Points: 1

Looking for more delicious appetizer recipes like this one? Check out our Dinner Answers program today!

Green about frisee?

Green about frisee?

Such a pretty addition to a gourmet salad, lovely, lacy frisee lettuce is more than just a pretty face! Frisee (pronounced free-zay) is rich in fiber, vitamins A, B, C, and E.

Ever wonder why there are so few of those frizzy leaves of pale green that you see in salad mixes? Well, it’s because frisee lettuce is a very laborious green that is quite expensive to produce commercially. You’ll rarely see it as a sole salad ingredient for that reason. Also, the flavor of frisee is quite strong and rather bitter as far as greens go, so a tiny bit can go quite a long way – you might not want to eat an entire raw salad made with frisee.

Sauteeing or wilting your frisee will help to take some of the bitter taste out of this pretty vegetable. Try it wilted and topped with goat cheese and toasted walnuts or topped with bacon and a poached egg for a grain-free eggs benedict! Wilted frisee is also lovely served with red meat. Remember to always tear frisee into pieces rather than using a knife.

Now that I have you dreaming up a salad for dinner, it’s time for Your Trick!

Limp frisee can be revived by sticking it into lukewarm water followed by a plunge into ice water. You’ll literally shock it back to life.

Your Tip:

Tight packaging will cause your frisee to rot in the fridge. Give it some breathing room and use it within a couple of days of purchase.

And your Recipe:

Print Recipe
Mandarin Orange Teriyaki Chicken Salad
Half of a peeled Mandarin Orange on a white marble surface
Course Salads
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Course Salads
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Half of a peeled Mandarin Orange on a white marble surface
Instructions
  1. In a large zipper-topped plastic bag, combine chicken and teriyaki sauce; seal bag and turn to coat; refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.
  2. Drain and discard marinade.
  3. Coat a large non-stick skillet with cooking spray; add chicken; cook and stir for 5 to 7 minutes or until no longer pink; transfer to a bowl; cover and refrigerate until chilled.
  4. In a large bowl, combine salad greens, frisee, chicken, oranges, carrot, almonds and green onion.
  5. In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine remaining ingredients; shake well and drizzle over the salad; toss gently to coat.
Recipe Notes

NUTRITION per serving: 299 Calories; 13g Fat; 25g Protein; 22g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 49mg Cholesterol; 1066mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 3 Lean Meat; 2 Vegetable; 1/2 Fruit; 2 Fat. Points: 6

Interested in MORE Scrumptious Salads?

Sprouts!

Sprouts!

I’m sure you’ve seen the ubiquitous bean sprout in your grocery store since you were a child. And maybe some alfalfa sprouts. But there’s more to sprouts than what is in your grocery store. There’s radish sprouts, clover sprouts, broccoli sprouts—just to name a few.

These wonderful sprouts are all full phytochemicals, massive nutrients and a nice amount of protein too. The best part is they’re easy and cheap to grow yourself!

Here’s today’s TRICK:

Add sprouts to a variety of foods—in your salads and sandwiches to be sure, but don’t forget to throw in a handful for extra nutrition in your smoothie, soups and even stews! You can add sprouts to about anything.

Here’s a TIP:

Sprouts are fabulously easy to grow, you don’t need special equipment and they grow year round. Here’s how:

Use wide mouth glass canning jars, available at many hardware stores. You will need screen lids; either cut pieces of different (plastic) mesh screens, or buy some of the special plastic screen lids designed for sprouting (usually available in health food stores or even hardware stores).

Sprouting is easy: just put the seed in a jar, add the soak water and put the lid on. When the soak is over, invert jar and drain the water, then rinse again. Prop the jar up at a 45 degree angle so the water will drain (or your seeds will continue to soak).

Keep your seeds out of direct sunlight. Rinse seed in the jar 2-3 times per day until ready, always keeping it angled for drainage.

 

And here’s your RECIPE:

Print Recipe
Avocado Yumwich
Servings
Serving
Ingredients
Servings
Serving
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Put together and eat. How's that for cinchy instructions?
  2. For gooooood eatin', slice onions up and saute till brown.
  3. When they're still working on their tans, add a little barbecue sauce and add that to your yumwich.
  4. Eat with wild abandon.
Recipe Notes

Per serving: 279 Calories; 13g Fat; 9g Protein; 36g Carbohydrate; 7g Dietary Fiber; 8mg Cholesterol; 410mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 1/2 Grain(Starch); 1 Vegetable; 2 1/2 Fat.

Looking for more healthy recipes? Check out our Dinner Answers program today!

Let’s Get to Know Rosemary

Let’s Get to Know Rosemary

You’re probably most familiar with rosemary in its dried or fresh form, being used as an herb for adding a distinct flavor to pork or beef dishes. There are all kinds of flavor in this aromatic herb but it’s also quite healthy for you.

Among rosemary’s properties…

•It’s anti-inflammatory
•It acts as a natural antidepressant
•It serves as an expectorant
•It’s an aphrodisiac (wink wink, nudge nudge)
•It’s even a natural disinfectant

Besides those magical powers, rosemary can do all kinds of other good in your body including stimulating bile secretion and eliminating it in the intestines. It also improves blood flow and it can even keep your mind sharp and energized.

Speaking of your mind, rosemary has many calming effects that can help with digestive problems caused by stress, as well as helping to battle anxiety, sadness, and fatigue.

Rumor has it that rosemary can even help with hangovers, constipation, cramps, cough, muscular pain, and sinusitis.

For these types of benefits, you may want to look at purchasing rosemary in the form of tea, capsules, tincture, or even an ethereal oil.

More to rosemary than meets the eye isn’t there?!

Rosemary is dead easy to grow, so why not plant some of your own? It’s great when used fresh (for best results, store your cut sprigs in a glass of water in the fridge), but you can also dry the rosemary out yourself by hanging the sprigs in a warm and dry place. Then you have your own dried rosemary for the winter. How pioneer-ish of you!

Here’s your Trick:

Rosemary acts as a natural insect repellant so plant lots of it!

And here’s your Tip:

Toss springs of rosemary onto the coals of your barbeque to naturally flavor meats.

And your Recipe:

Print Recipe
Rosemary Pork Medallions
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 5 Minutes
Cook Time 8-10 Minutes
Servings
Servings
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 5 Minutes
Cook Time 8-10 Minutes
Servings
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl or cup, make a paste from the garlic, rosemary, sage and oil.
  2. Rub into the pork then slice pork into almost 1-inch strips.
  3. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, saute pork strips until they are no longer pink in the center, about 4 minutes per side (use a little more oil if needed).
  4. Place pork strips on a serving platter and drizzle with lemon juice.
Recipe Notes

Per Serving: 215 Calories; 7g Fat; 36g Protein; 1g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 111mg Cholesterol; 85mg Sodium.Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 5 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 0 Fat. Points: 5

Interested in finding more dishes that use this delicious herb? Check out our Dinner Answers program today!

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