Nov 04

Get Cozy This Fall With These 5 Warm Drinks

Get Cozy This Fall With These 5 Warm Drinks

Whether you want to soothe a sore throat, boost your energy or just cozy up with a hot beverage during these increasingly crisp, cool nights, these simple recipes are the perfect solution.

1. Steeped Mint-Fennel Tea

Recipe: Pour one cup of boiling water over ½ teaspoon of fennel seeds, 2 teaspoons of mint leaf and 2-3 thin slices of ginger. Cover and let steep for 5 minutes.

Why it’s good for you: This aromatic blend will naturally stimulate your senses, giving you a boost of energy. Bonus: The strong scent of mint helps with nausea and stomachaches.

Steeped Mint-Fennel Tea

 

2. Warm Cardamom, Vanilla & Honey Milk

Recipe: Combine 1 cup of milk (or nut milk) and ½ teaspoon of brown cardamom seeds in a small saucepan until warm. Remove the pan from heat and add 3 teaspoons of honey and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Stir and let steep for 5 minutes.

Why it’s good for you: Cardamom is a peppery spice known for anti-inflammatory properties. This spice has also been known to alleviate feelings of anxiety — perfect nourishment for a cold, blustery day.

Warm Cardamom, Vanilla & Honey Milk

3. Ginger-Honey Cayenne Tea

Recipe: Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 2-3 thin slices of ginger, 1 tablespoon of honey and 1 lemon wedge. Add ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper and stir.

Why it’s good for you: The honey and ginger mixture will help relieve sore throat symptoms, while the dash of cayenne pepper will be just what you need to clear your sinuses.

Giner-Honey Cayenne Tea

4. Warm Pineapple Ginger Punch

Recipe: In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup pineapple juice, 3 thick slices of ginger, 1 teaspoon honey, 1 cinnamon stick, 2 whole cloves and a dash of pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain and enjoy.

Why it’s good for you: Pineapple is an excellent source of bromelain, an enzyme that alleviates indigestion and can even help clear your sinuses.

 

 

Warm Pineapple Ginger Punch

And Finally…

5. Warm Water with Lemon

Recipe: Combine juice of half a lemon with 1 cup of warm water.

Why it’s good for you: Don’t be fooled by this recipe’s simplicity. Drinking lemon with warm water can give you a boost of vitamin C and potassium, help with digestion and act as a natural diuretic.

Warm Water with Lemon

 

 

Kate from learnandgrowbooks.com

Kate is the founder of Learn and Grow Books, which is a website for parents and teachers of pre-K children.

Oct 30

10 Reasons You Should Eat Blueberries Every Day

10 Reasons You Should Eat Blueberries Every Day

Life is crazy. Overs scheduled, nerve-racking and harried. And yet we all know that eating healthfully has to be a priority. Fueling your body with the best nature has to offer helps cope with those stresses and feel energetic, nourished and clean on the inside and out.

The good news is that there are shortcuts to getting the job done without cutting corners. Like eating a few handfuls of organic wild blueberries every day. Yep, we mean it! That’s 365 days a year. When you consider the cream of the crop of fresh-food options—accessibility, storage, taste and labor vs. nutritional payoff, absolutely nothing beats these purple little wonders. Here’s why.

1) Wild blueberries may contribute to the fight against your biggest health fears.

It seems like there’s hardly a bodily complaint that blueberries don’t have an answer for. Jam-packed with nutrients, the little globes get their unique purplish hue from anthocyanin, a potent flavonoid antioxidant that may help protect you from serious illness like cardiovascular illness, neurodegenerative disease and cancer.

2) They fight inflammation.

It’s today’s ultimate buzzword—and that’s because chronic inflammation affects so many people in the form of arthritis (and related joint issues), skin problems, metabolic syndrome and possibly even increased risk of the scarier diseases mentioned above. In one recent study, obese rats that ate the human equivalent of two cups of wild blueberries per day for eight weeks experienced a significantly improved inflammatory response.

3) They may help keep you sharp.

Flavonoids act to protect cells all over your body, including neurons, the nerve cells that transmit thoughts, feelings, memories and more. Keeping these crucial players in top shape will keep you on your toes, so to speak. Research shows that a diet containing blueberries or blueberry extract may enhance memory function, balance and coordination.

4) They help you maintain the brightest skin possible.

Organic wild blueberries’ vitamin A and C are necessary for the health of collagen, your skin’s support structure. Eating foods rich in these nutrients may help slow the development of wrinkles, sagging and dark circles. The berries also contain water, which keeps skin hydrated, bouncy and young looking.

5) In terms of antioxidant power, they’re the absolute best.

Maybe you’re thinking, Sure, but all produce contains antioxidants. The truth is that blueberries have more! In study after study, blueberries outrank other powerhouses, like strawberries, cranberries, blackberries and apples, in terms of their total antioxidant activity. And—if you really want to get specific—blueberries that grow in the wild pack at least twice the nutritional value as their cultivated counterparts. In fact, many researchers choose wild blueberries for their studies, since those are known to be so much more potent.

6) They’re tough.

Just because they’re small and cute doesn’t mean they don’t know how to survive. Some of the sweetest, nutritionally rich blueberries out there grow in the Alaskan wild, fighting to thrive in the frigid temperatures. This battle for survival yields a particularly hardy fruit that’s packed with mega doses of antioxidants and medicinal compounds.

7) They’re delicious.

Ultimately, we all know that this is the most important part. Blueberries taste good.

Incorporate them into your cereal, yogurt, smoothie, ice cream, muffin or other, and you’re sure to be upping the delish factor of your meal. One tip: Wild blueberries tend to do better in taste tests than the larger cultivated kind, so buy them when they’re available!

8) They’re all give, no take.

Sure, fruits like pineapple and pomegranate are healthy and tasty. They’re also a pain in the rear. All the peeling and chopping and discarding—you literally have to put muscle into harvesting your breakfast. OK, that labor can be worth it. But compare that to blueberries: All you have to do is rinse and dump into a bowl or gobble them up by the handful. Like candy!

9) You can totally save them for later, they won’t mind.

Blueberries are so tough that preserving them doesn’t hurt their nutritional power. Buy them dried or frozen, or get them fresh and preserve them yourself—they’ll keep for months. Aloha’s Daily Good Greens, a simple dried-powder pack that you can take anywhere, contains plenty of wild blueberry goodness.

10) Your kids will love them.

Monkey see, monkey do—especially when what you’re doing is eating something sweet, delicious and toddler-sized! Think of the wonders all those healthy antioxidants can do for your child’s young, developing body and mind. Snack time: solved.
Kate from learnandgrowbooks.com

Kate is the founder of Learn and Grow Books, which is a website for parents and teachers of pre-K children.

Oct 25

4 Guest-Friendly Make-Ahead Breakfasts

4 Guest-Friendly Make-Ahead Breakfasts

Serve up something great for a hungry crew without having to wake up at the crack of dawn.

Spinach and Jack Cheese Bread Pudding

Cheese and veggie-filled bread pudding satisfies any big appetite. Just pair with some poached eggs and a fruit salad to round it out.

A delicious departure from quiche, this savory bread pudding is easier to prepare and very satisfying.

Total Time: 30 min

Oven Temp: 350

Ingredients

  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 cup(s) (1%) low-fat milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon(s) dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon(s) salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon(s) coarsely ground pepper
  • 1 pinch(s) ground nutmeg
  • 1 package(s) (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 cup(s) (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 8 slice(s) firm white bread, cut into 3⁄4-inch pieces

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In large bowl, with wire whisk or fork, beat eggs, milk, thyme, salt, pepper, and nutmeg until blended. With rubber spatula, stir in spinach, Monterey Jack, and bread.
  2. Pour mixture into 13-inch by 9-inch ceramic or glass baking dish. Bake bread pudding 20 to 25 minutes or until browned and puffed and knife inserted in center comes out clean.
  3. Remove bread pudding from oven; let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Tips & Techniques

For a Mexican-style variation, replace Monterey Jack with pepper Jack cheese and add 4 ounces sliced pepperoni. Serve with salsa.

spinach-cheese-bread-pudding-lgn

Chocolate-Glazed Banana Bread Minis

Mini loaves ensure that every sweet-loving guest can grab a bite.

Bake breads in mini paper or foil pans — perfect bake sale packaging!

Yields: 6 loaves

Total Time: 45 min

Prep Time: 15 min

Oven Temp: 350

Ingredients

  • 2 cup(s) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon(s) baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon(s) salt
  • 2 cup(s) mashed very ripe bananas
  • 2 teaspoon(s) vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup(s) (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup(s) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup(s) packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 ounce(s) semisweet chocolate

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, and salt. In another medium bowl, mix bananas and vanilla.
  3. In bowl, with mixer on medium speed, beat butter and sugars 3 minutes, or until fluffy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time. With mixer on low, add flour mixture alternately with banana mixture, starting and ending with flour. Divide among 6 disposable mini (1/4-pound) loaf pans.
  4. Bake breads 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire rack.
  5. Drizzle with chocolate; let set.

chocolate-glazed-banana-bread-minis-recipe-

Overnight Savory French Toast

A combination of cheese and chives transforms French toast into a savory wonder.

This savory, feeds-eight French toast — a cost-effective, cheese-crusted combo of baked bread, eggs, and Gruyère — rests overnight so you can sleep in.

Serves: 8

Yields: 8 main-dish servings

Ingredients

  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 cup(s) milk
  • 1 tablespoon(s) Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup(s) snipped chives, plus additional for garnish
  • 1 loaf(s) (9 ounces) French bread (preferably day-old; see Shopping Tip), cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 6 ounce(s) Gruyère cheese, shredded

Directions

  1. Grease shallow 1 1/2-quart ceramic baking dish. In medium bowl, whisk eggs, milk, Dijon, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper until well blended. Stir in chives.
  2. Arrange half of bread in bottom of prepared baking dish, overlapping slices to fit. Pour half of egg mixture over bread and sprinkle with two-thirds of Gruyère. Cover with remaining bread, overlapping slices. Pour remaining egg mixture over bread; gently press down to help bread absorb egg mixture. Sprinkle with remaining one-third of Gruyère. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until puffed and golden and tip of knife inserted in center comes out clean, covering top during last 15 minutes if browning too quickly. Let stand 10 minutes to set custard before serving. Sprinkle with snipped chives.

Tips & Techniques

Shopping Tip: Look for discounted day-old French bread in your market or bakery.

savory-french-toast-recipe-

Pimiento Cheese Make-Ahead Quiche

With a made-in-advance quiche, you won’t have to worry about overcooking the eggs in the morning.

Pimiento cheese is a classic Southern snack. Here, it’s reinvented, by being used as the creamy, spicy, savory filling for a quick and easy quiche.

Yields: 6 main-dish servings

Total Time: 1 hr 30 min

Prep Time: 25 min

Oven Temp: 375

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup(s) all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) salt
  • 6 tablespoon(s) cold vegetable shortening, cut up
  • 3 tablespoon(s) (or up to 5 tablespoons) water
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup(s) whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) salt
  • 2 cup(s) shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1 jar(s) (4-ounce) chopped pimientos, drained
  • 2 cup(s) green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoon(s) hot pepper sauce
  • 1 teaspoon(s) Worcestershire sauce

Directions

  1. Make the crust: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In food processor, pulse flour, and 1/2 teaspoon each sugar and salt until combined. Add vegetable shortening; pulse until coarse crumbs form. Sprinkle in 3 to 5 tablespoons water, pulsing between additions until dough is just moist. Pat into disk. Cover with plastic wrap; freeze 30 minutes or refrigerate up to 2 days.
  2. On lightly floured surface, with floured rolling pin, roll dough into 11-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch pie plate. Trim off excess dough. Tuck edge of dough under and pinch to create rim. Crimp to decorate edge. Line dough with parchment paper or foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake 15 minutes. Remove liner and weights. Bake another 10 to 13 minutes, or until edge is golden and bottom is no longer raw. Cool slightly on wire rack.
  3. Make the custard: Whisk together eggs, milk, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  4. Stir Cheddar cheese, chopped pimientos, green onions, hot pepper sauce, and Worcestershire sauce into custard.
  5. Bake in 375 degrees F oven 35 to 45 minutes or until center is just set. Cool 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

    Tips & Techniques

    Make Ahead: Bake one (or more) the night before, cover, and refrigerate until morning. Reheat at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes or until warm. Time tip: To save 10 minutes, use a store-bought crust.

     Pimiento -Cheese -make -ahead-quiche-

Kate from learnandgrowbooks.com

Kate is the founder of Learn and Grow Books, which is a website for parents and teachers of pre-K children.

Oct 16

Homemade Dog Treats

Homemade Dog Treats

Homemade dog treats are fun to make and delicious for your household pet! If your dog feels left out of the family’s festive holiday baking, make a batch of tasty homemade dog treats to appease him. These homemade dog treats are simple for your child to make, and the cooking process provides a good lesson on fractions and measurements as well. These homemade dog treats make excellent Christmas gifts for dogs, so go ahead and make a whole batch for your furry friend and his neighborhood companions. These homemade dog treats are made using only ordinary kitchen ingredients, and they are even edible for humans!

What You Need:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup powdered milk
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 1 large egg, slightly beaten
  • 6 tbsp. Crisco
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup flaxseed (optional, but healthy!)

What You Do:

  1. Show your child how to preheat the oven to 325° F.
  2. Have your child combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Cut in the Crisco; help your child add in the egg and water to the mixture.
  4. Ask your child to stir in the flaxseed, if you are including it.
  5. Invite your child to roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface until it reaches about 1/2-inch thickness. Have him use cookie cutters in his favorite holiday shapes to cut up the dough.
  6. Bake the biscuits for approximately 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Kate from learnandgrowbooks.com

Kate is the founder of Learn and Grow Books, which is a website for parents and teachers of pre-K children.

Sep 09

Apple Oatmeal Crisp Recipe

Apple Oatmeal Crisp Recipe

I found a Apple Oatmeal Crisp Recipe that I like.

This dessert is effortless enough to whip up right before company arrives, or just before you sit down to dinner; after an easy prep, it just takes a bit of time in the oven. The ingredients may be typical staples, but this apple-pie like dish is anything but ordinary.

Feel free to mix it up by adding berries (blueberries are delicious) or mix in a few extra spices, such as nutmeg, cardamom, or a specialty pie spice mix. This dish is best served warm, and can easily be reheated in the oven just before serving if needed. Simply reheat at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until warmed throughout and crisp on top. Serve with your favorite ice cream (a la mode) or a dollop of plain coconut yogurt. For those who eschew refined sugar, coconut palm sugar makes a fantastic substitute and delivers and even more of a caramel flavor.

Ingredients
  • 3 small apples, any crisp variety
  • 1/4 cup + 1 Tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon + dash salt
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • Cook Time: 47 minutes
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 62 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings

 

Preparation

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice the apples so that they are about 1/4 inch thick and cut into even sized pieces. There is no need to peel the apples, but you certainly can. I like leaving the peels on as it retains a bit more vitamins and fiber that way.

In a medium sized bowl, cream together the coconut oil, brown sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt until creamy. Toss the coconut oil mixture with the apples to completely coat. Spread apples evenly into an 8 x 8 inch metal baking pan.

 

In a smaller separate bowl, whisk together the dash salt, all purpose flour, oats and cinnamon. Sprinkle liberally over the apples and toss very gently to coat–just once to get rid of any big patches of flour. Drizzle with maple syrup to evenly cover the apples in a criss-cross pattern.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack for about 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Note: This recipe also works well with other types of fruit. Try it instead with peaches, plums, pears, cherries or even nectarines. You will achieve best texture and flavor if the fruit is slightly under ripe–for stone fruits, look for fragrant but firm. If using pears, just be sure they are not too soft, and peeling may be necessary depending on the type of pear used. Bartlett is an excellent choice.



Kate from learnandgrowbooks.com

Kate is the founder of Learn and Grow Books, which is a website for parents and teachers of pre-K children.