RECIPES:

 

 

Cherry Pecan Chews Skillet Gnocchi Energy Snack Mix Prosciutto Breadsticks Spinach Artichoke Mac and Cheese Natural Ginger Cheesecake Enchilada Rice Soup Poached Pears in Grape Juice

Cherry Pecan Chews To Share

(NAPSI)—When you’re looking to make a treat to share with family and friends or give as a gift, having a fantastic “go-to” recipe in your arsenal can be sweet. Here’s one that fits the bill on ease of preparation and taste and that you’ll be happy to share with those you love. Created by LouanneBertrand, a popular food blogger at Louanne’s Kitchen, it’s a cookie that’s great anytime of the year.

Cherry Pecan Chews 
Yield: 5 dozen

Ingredients:

  • 2½ cups flour

  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened

  • 1½ cups sugar

  • 1½ teaspoon vanilla extract

  • ½ teaspoon almond extract

  • 1 large egg

  • ⅓ cup finely chopped maraschino cherries

  • 1 cup toasted and finely chopped pecans

Note: The dough must chill before baking; preheat oven to 350º F when ready to bake.

Directions:

Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together; set aside. Cream together butter, sugar, vanilla and almond until fluffy. Beat in egg. Mix in cherries and pecans. Add flour mixture, mixing until well incorporated. Pat dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap or wax paper, and chill for at least 1 hour, although overnight is best. Preheat oven to 350º F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with nonstick spray. Using a small cookie scoop, portion dough onto prepared baking sheet, spacing cookies 2” apart. Bake for 11−12 minutes or until lightly brown around the edges. Allow cookies to cool for at least 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

A librarian by day and wanna-be chef at home, Louanne says, “This recipe, like many others I share on my blog, is my own, based on culinary memories from my childhood.”

She recommends you keep a jar or two of maraschino cherries on hand to add color and flavor to your favorite baked goods. The cherries are so versatile that they can be used in appetizers, beverages and entrées, as well as desserts.

Learn More

For more tips and recipes, visit Louanne’s Kitchen atwww.louanneskitchen.com and the National Cherry Foundation atwww.nationalcherries.com

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Put a Healthy Spin on Comfort Foods

(NAPSI)—A great way to warm hearts—and stomachs—during winter weather is with delicious comfort foods. What many find even more comforting is that you can make them heart-healthy with simple ingredient swaps and healthier cooking techniques. To help, there’s the “Comfort Your Heart” Recipe Collection from CanolaInfo.

“I love these recipes because they are both hearty and heart-healthy,” says Dawn Jackson Blatner, R.D., C.S.S.D., L.D.N., author of “The Flexitarian Diet” and developer of the recipe collection.

To make comfort foods heart-healthy, Blatner uses a blender to thicken soup instead of heavy cream and “bake-frying” to make food crispy without deep-frying. She upgrades grains, using whole grain versions of breads and gnocchi. She also pumps up produce, making fries out of carrots and parsnips, “chips” from zucchini and “pasta” from spaghetti squash to keep calories and saturated fat in check while optimizing nutritional value.

“The emphasis lately has been more on what to add to your diet as opposed to what to subtract,” says Blatner. “It’s about eating whole grains, plant proteins, produce and heart-smart fats like canola oil.”

Each heart-warming entrée contains less than 500 calories per serving and is low in saturated fat. All recipes are made with canola oil, which has the least saturated fat and most omega-3 fat of all common culinary oils and is free of trans fat.

Recipes include:

  • Rustic Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Crostini

  • Chicken Parmigiana with Spaghetti Squash

  • Turkey Burger Casserole with Parsnip and Carrot Frites

  • Cornmeal-Crusted Fish and Zucchini Chips

  • Beef Ragout with Grilled Bread

  • Skillet Gnocchi with Butternut Squash and Kale Pesto

In this last nutrient-rich dish, whole grain gnocchi and the “superfood” kale lay the foundation. Healthful convenience foods such as pre-packaged, whole grain gnocchi and frozen, cubed butternut squash save time in preparing the dish.

“When putting together these recipes, I thought about foods I would like to eat on a winter night,” says Blatner.

Skillet Gnocchi with Butternut Squash and Kale Pesto

Kale Pesto:

  • 2 cups chopped kale leaves

  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

  • 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

  • 1½ Tbsp chopped walnuts

  • 1 clove garlic, minced

  • 2 Tbsp canola oil

Gnocchi:

  • 1½ cups frozen pre-cut (1-inch cubes) butternut squash, thawed

  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped

  • 1 package (16 oz) prepared whole grain gnocchi

  • 1 cup kale leaves, cut into fine strips

Directions:

To prepare pesto: In food processor, purée kale, lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, walnuts and garlic for 2 minutes until paste forms. While processing on low, drizzle in canola oil. Warm large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add pesto, butternut squash, red onion (reserve 2 Tbsp for garnish) and sauté for 5 minutes. Add gnocchi and sauté another 5 minutes until thoroughly heated. Top with kale strips and chopped red onion. Serve.

Yield: 6 servings

Serving size: 1 cup gnocchi

Nutritional Analysis per Serving: Calories 260, Total Fat 8 g, Saturated Fat 1.5 g, Cholesterol 5 mg, Sodium 390 mg, Potassium 337 mg, Carbohydrates 42 g, Fiber 4 g, Sugars 6 g, Protein 8 g

For the recipes and information, visit www.canolainfo.org.

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Keep Your Energy Up

(NAPSI)—The next time you feel your energy flagging, consider this advice from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other experts:

Getting a balance of protein and nutrients in your diet is the key to keeping your energy up all day. That means making sure you eat a variety of whole grains, fruit, veggies and protein at each meal.

• For starters, have a good breakfast. After many hours of fasting, a nutritious breakfast helps provide energy for an active day. A breakfast filled with a balance of nutrients—protein, grains, fruit and dairy—will give your brain as well as your body what it needs to get you through the morning at your best.

• Next, get moving. Getting a little physical activity each day, activities like taking a 30-minute walk around the neighborhood or mowing the lawn, can help you build strong bones and muscles, reduce body fat and feel great. Being active uses energy, and you’ll feel invigorated.

• Finally, snack smart. Rather than empty calories, enjoy something like this:

24-7 Energy Snack Mix

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups roasted peanuts

  • 1 cup toasted sunflower seeds

  • ¼ cup dried mango, diced

  • ¼ cup dried apples, diced

  • ½ cup M&Ms

Toss ingredients together in large bowl. Portion ¼-cup servings into plastic snack bags.

Makes: 16 servings

An important part of that snack is the protein you get from the peanuts. Sherry Coleman Collins, MS, RD, LD, says, “Peanuts are a powerhouse of protein. With seven grams per serving, peanuts contain more protein than any nut. Protein is one of the essential nutrients in life. It is important not only for growing children but also for maintaining muscles, bones and skin throughout life.”

Moreover, peanuts are a natural source of plant-based protein. Collins recommends choosing more plant-based proteins as part of a healthy lifestyle. The government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans specifically point out the need for a shift in food intake to a more plant-based diet; one that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts. Whether you’re a vegetarian or looking to cut down on saturated fat levels, peanuts can be a smart choice when looking for a boost of protein in any meal.

Learn More

For further peanut facts, tips and recipes, go to the National Peanut Board website at http://nationalpeanutboard.org.

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Trendy Meets Easy: Enjoy Charcuterie

(NAPSI)—For a classic party dish that’s popular at today’s gatherings, choose charcuterie—a platter of cooked and dry-cured meats, sausages and smooth pâtés accompanied by crusty baguettes, pungent mustards, enticingcornichons, pickles and other savory morsels. It can make a great appetizer, entrée, picnic staple or the main attraction at a tailgating party. What’s more, it’s easy to create and readily transported to tailgating events and holiday parties.

There are a few elements to consider when assembling a charcuterie platter:

1. Textures: Select foods with a variety of textures—firm sausages, soft pâtés, crusty baguettes, artisan breads and crackers.

2. Flavors: The smoky, spicy and salty flavors of sausages and cured meats harmonize well with the buttery-smooth flavors of soft and semifirm cheeses and the acidity from pickles or cornichons. Leave the smoky cheeses for another occasion as such flavors are too similar to the smoked meats and sausages. Also, select unflavored cheeses, none of the herb or garlic varieties. A classic French charcuterie presentation might include fruit such as figs, dates or dried apricots.

3. Colors: Pair green olives and cornichons with dark cured meats, white baguette slices and pale yellow cheese selections.

4. Shapes: Fold some of the paper-thin sliced sausages into quarters, forming a small triangle. Roll a few of the sausage slices into cylinders. Slice some of the cheeses into wedges or rectangular strips. Crackers that are rectangles, hexagons or squares also add contrasting shapes.

Here’s an interesting way to present bread and sausages:

Prosciutto Breadsticks

Makes 5 to 6 servings

10 pencil-thin crisp breadsticks

10 paper-thin slices prosciutto

No more than ½ hour before serving, tightly wrap one prosciutto slice around the top half of one breadstick. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Cover loosely with waxed paper and keep at room temperature.

5. Drinks: Hearty, earthy-toned red wines are a natural flavor mix for the blend of charcuterie platter flavors.

6. Signs: Your guests may appreciate small labels that identify the meats, sausages and cheeses, especially the spicy, hot varieties.

Learn More

For tips, recipes and more, visit www.hot-dog.org.

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Add A Pop Of Flavor, Nutrition To Home Cooking

(NAPSI)—If you're like most people, you really appreciate the comfort of home-cooked meals around the holidays. Entertaining family and friends can be a great opportunity to take traditional comfort foods and kick them up a notch when it comes to both flavor and nutrition.

Registered Dietitian Tammi Hancock agrees, saying, "Adding spinach is a subtle way to bring nutrient-rich greens to nearly any pasta dish, and ingredients like artichokes can complement that, while adding a pop of flavor."

The following recipe is one way to add flavor and nutrition to traditional home-cooked mac and cheese:

Spinach and Artichoke Macaroni and Cheese
Yield: 10 (1-cup) servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups dry whole grain macaroni pasta

  • 1 (14-oz) can artichokes, drained and chopped

  • 1 (10-oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

  • 4 oz Parmesan cheese, freshly grated; ¼ cup reserved for topping

  • 2 oz Romano cheese, freshly grated (or substitute with extra Parmesan)

  • 4 oz reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

  • 2 Tbsp flour

  • 2 cups Smart Balance® Fat Free Milk and Omega-3s

  • 1 clove garlic, pressed or minced

  • ½ tsp black pepper

  • ½ cup breadcrumbs

Directions:

Cook macaroni in boiling water in a medium saucepan until al dente; drain. Combine drained pasta in a 9x13-inch baking dish with artichokes, spinach and cheeses except ¼ cup Parmesan reserved for topping. Return same saucepan to stovetop. Place flour in saucepan and whisk in milk until smooth. Add garlic and pepper. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat and pour sauce over pasta mixture in baking dish. Stir to distribute sauce throughout. Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and stir until cheese sauce is creamy and smooth. Combine reserved ¼ cup Parmesan with breadcrumbs and sprinkle on top. Return to oven and bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes longer or until sauce is bubbly and topping starts to brown.

Per 1-cup serving: 322 cal, 20g protein, 42g carbohydrate, 8g fat, 4g saturated fat, 1.5g monounsaturated fat, 1g polyunsaturated fat, 0g trans fat, 57mg omega-3 fatty acids, 228mg omega-6 fatty acids, 23mg cholesterol, 519mg sodium, 4g fiber

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Give Family And Friends Their Just Desserts:

A Low-Calorie, All-Natural Whipped Topping

(NAPSI)—Here’s a sweet idea: a delicious dessert with less fat and fewer calories.

Taking aim directly at the waistline of holiday dessert lovers, there’s now an all-natural, frozen whipped topping that boasts an incredible 30 calories per serving.

truwhip is 100 percent natural; free of genetically modified organisms; has no high-fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, trans fats or gluten; and doesn’t contain the chemicals that other whipped toppings do.

You can use it on apple and pumpkin pies or as a topping in coffee drinks and hot cocoa. Try the topping in savory holiday recipes as well, replacing heavy cream with a great-tasting, healthful and easy-to-use alternative. You can also try truwhip in an easy, elegant dish such as this:

Natural Ginger Cheesecake
Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 1¼ cups graham cracker crumbs (for crust)

  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted

  • 8 ounces cream cheese

  • ⅓ cup sugar

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • Pinch of nutmeg

  • ½ cup candied ginger, finely chopped

  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese

  • 10 ounces truwhip whipped topping

  • Thawed gingersnap crumbs (for garnish)

Directions:

Combine graham cracker crumbs with melted butter and mix well. Press into a 10-inch springform pan evenly. Set aside in the freezer until use. Whip cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, nutmeg and candied ginger into electric mixing bowl until smooth. Add the mascarpone cheese and truwhip and whip again until fully mixed and fluffy. Spoon mixture into the gingersnap crust, filling to the top. Sprinkle with ground gingersnap crumbs for garnish. Chill in the freezer. Thaw slightly before serving.

Learn more and find great holiday recipes at www.truwhip.com or call (800) 727-9939.

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Entertaining Idea: Enchilada Rice Soup

(NAPSI)—When it comes to creating a dish that’s nutritious, delicious, economical and a real crowd-pleaser, it’s a good idea to go with the grain. Grains of rice, that is.

Some rice, such as Texmati Brown Rice, is all natural and grown in the U.S.It’s a nutritious addition to many of your favorite dishes.

Rice can be a hearty part of a quick and easy soup that’s great as a light, one-dish dinner; the first course in an elaborate meal for many; or a nice, warming and wholesome treat to serve when the gang has gathered at your place to watch the game-or play one.

Make this Enchilada Rice Soup with low-fat ingredients to deliciously improve your family’s diet.

Enchilada Rice Soup

(Yield: 8−10 servings)

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups cooked Texmati Brown Rice

  • 3 cups low-fat chicken broth

  • 1 (1-lb., 10-oz.) jar chunky garden vegetable pasta sauce

  • 1 (10-oz.) can mild red enchilada sauce

  • 1½ cups shredded cooked chicken

  • Shredded low-fat cheddar cheese

  • Light sour cream, optional

Directions:

In large saucepan, combine rice and all other ingredients, except cheese. Over medium-high heat, bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10−15 minutes. Serve topped with cheese and a dollop of sour cream, if desired.

For more great recipes and food facts, visit www.riceselect.com.

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For The New Year—Get Off To A Grape Start

(NAPSI)—If you’ve resolved to eat better this year, start by packing your plate with produce, including a dynamite little fruit—the Concord grape.Concord grapes are bold in taste and pack quite a nutritious punch. They can be enjoyed as 100% grape juice or in simple, healthy and flavor-packed recipes.

Welch’s uses Concord grapes grown in North America exclusively by its family-farmer owners, who work tirelessly during harvest season to collect exceptional fruit that meets their high quality standards. These Concordgrapes are picked at their peak and pressed into juice within eight hours of harvesting to capture their perfectly ripe flavor.

Thanks to the Concord grape, 100% grape juice can help support a healthy heart. According to Alton Brown, Food Network star, food historian and scientist, “Welch’s presses the entire Concord grape, skin, seed, pulp and all, and that releases heart-healthy plant nutrients called polyphenols.”

Many of the polyphenols in Concord grapes are the same as those found in wine. In fact, you can even use 100% grape juice instead of sweet wine in a variety of recipes, which saves you from needing to buy another ingredient at the store.

There are many ways to share the goodness of Concord grapes. 100% grape juice made with Concord grapes can be enjoyed in a glass as a nutritious beverage and can easily be incorporated into recipes for desserts, low-fat salad dressings, marinades and more. This tasty ingredient not only enhances the flavor of your favorite dishes, but also adds a boost of heart-healthy purple fruit to your day.

Here’s one easy way to add this one-of-a-kind fruit to your menu:

Poached Pears in Grape Juice

Ingredients:

  • 1½ cups Welch’s 100% Grape Juice made with Concord grapes

  • 2 cinnamon sticks

  • 2 strips of orange rind

  • 4 pears, peeled with stems remaining

Directions:

• In a medium saucepan, bring grape juice, cinnamon and orange rind to a boil.

• Place pears standing in saucepan and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

• Turn or spoon juice over pears as they simmer. Remove pears and let cool.

• Reduce sauce by boiling down to about ⅓ cup.

• Spoon sauce over pears and keep chilled.

• Serve pears by themselves or with light whipped cream.

Learn More:

You can find more facts, tips and recipes to share the goodness of Concordgrapes with your family in the New Year at www.welchs.com.

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