Valentine’s Day eats and treats
(Family Features) Valentine’s Day naturally brings thoughts of hearts, flowers, sweetness and love. Because it also occurs during American Heart Month, it’s a perfect opportunity to start taking care of your own heart and the hearts of loved ones.
Part of the charm of the day’s celebrations is in giving family and friends flavorful foods to enjoy from chocolates and candies to other sugary treats. However, the festivities don’t have to be completely focused on unhealthy bites in order to make someone feel special.
This year, it can be easy to share in the fun of Valentine’s Day by serving those you love with sweet, seasonal treats. For example, these Frosted Watermelon Cutouts make for ideal snacks for children and adults alike whether it’s an after-school treat or a sweet dessert with just three ingredients, heart-shaped cookie cutters and minimal time spent in the kitchen.
If you’re really looking to impress that special someone, this Watermelon and Chocolate Dessert Board calls for creativity and plenty of tasty morsels like berries, cashews, almonds and dark chocolate. Without any baking or cooking required, simply spread out the ingredients for a platter that’s just as visually appealing as it is appetizing.
Both recipes include the benefits of watermelon, which boasts plenty of vitamin C to boost the immune system’s defenses as a cholesterol-free, fat-free and sodium-free food. Plus, watermelon draws its red color from the powerful antioxidant lycopene (12.7 mg per serving), which may help protect cells from damage, and the healthy treat is American Heart Association Heart-Check Certified with just 80 calories per serving, making it the perfect centerpiece for Valentine’s Day recipes.
Find more Valentine’s Day inspiration and recipes at watermelon.org.
Frosted Watermelon Cutouts
- 1 seedless watermelon, cut into 1/2-3/4-inch thick slices
- 4 brownie bites
- 1 cup frosting (any flavor)
- Using heart-shaped cookie cutters, cut shapes out of watermelon slices or simply use cut watermelon wedges, if desired. Top heart shapes with brownie bites and add frosting as desired.
Watermelon and Chocolate Dessert Board
- 1/2 medium seedless watermelon, cut into wedges and cubes
- 1 cup fresh raspberries
- 1 cup fresh red cherries
- 1 cup strawberries, trimmed and halved
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/3 cup roasted, salted cashews
- 1 cup chocolate covered almonds
- 1 bar dark chocolate, broken into squares
- 1 cup coconut chips
- mint leaves, for garnish
- On serving board, arrange watermelon in center and surround with raspberries, cherries, strawberries, cranberries, cashews, almonds, chocolate and coconut chips. Scatter mint leaves around board for garnish.
Source: Watermelon Board
(Family Features) Nothing brings people together like a barbecue. There seems to be something about being outdoors and the sizzle of fresh food on the grill that makes you want to gather with family and friends.
This summer, you can be the hero of your grill with a few simple tips and tricks:
- A great meal starts with great meat. Make sure to use versatile, high-quality and tender cuts like Smithfield Fresh Pork ribs, chops and tenderloins.
- Cut down on time, not flavor. Look for pre-seasoned meats such as pork chops, or slice, dice or cube larger cuts like boneless loin to shorten cook time and increase flavor.
- Grill like a pro. Use direct heat for burgers and chops, and indirect heat for larger cuts like ribs.
Find more summer grilling tips and pitmaster-perfected recipes at SmithfieldGetGrilling.com.
St. Louis Style Pork Spare Ribs with Coffee Cocoa Dry Rub
Recipe courtesy of pitmaster Chris Lilly
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 3 1/2 hours
- 7 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 4 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ground coffee
- 2 1/2 teaspoons unsweetened dark cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 3/4 teaspoon ancho chile pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon coriander
- 1/8 teaspoon turmeric
- 2 racks Smithfield St. Louis Style Pork Spareribs, membrane removed
- Build charcoal fire for indirect cooking by situating coals on one side of grill, leaving other side empty. Heat grill to 250° F.
- To make dry rub: In small bowl, combine salt, brown sugar, chili powder, coffee, cocoa, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, ancho chile pepper, coriander and turmeric.
- Generously apply dry rub onto front and back of pork ribs. Gently pat to ensure rub adheres.
- Put ribs meat-side up over indirect heat, away from coals, close lid and cook until ribs are tender, about 3 1/2 hours.
- Remove ribs from grill and let rest, uncovered, 5 minutes. Slice ribs between bones and serve.
Pineapple Pork Kebabs
Recipe courtesy of pitmaster Sterling Ball
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
- 1/2 Smithfield Prime Boneless Fresh Pork Loin
- 1 sweet onion, cut into 1-1 1/2-inch square pieces
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-1 1/2-inch square pieces
- 2 cups pineapple chunks
- 3-4 tablespoons barbecue rub
- 2 1/2 cups teriyaki marinade
- 3-4 flexible skewers
- Heat grill or smoker to 250° F. Cut pork loin into 2-inch cubes.
- Season pork loin, sweet onion, red bell pepper and pineapple chunks with rub.
- Thread pork loin, onion, pepper and pineapple on skewer; repeat until length of skewer is almost full. Repeat with additional skewers.
- Put assembled kebabs in large re-sealable bag and add teriyaki marinade. Carefully remove air from marinade bag and refrigerate 20 minutes.
- Remove kebabs from marinade bag and place on grill over indirect heat; cook 12-14 minutes, remove and set aside.
- Increase grill temperature to 400° F. Sear kebabs at high heat, until caramelized. Using meat thermometer, check pork loin cubes for doneness; remove from heat once pork reaches internal temperature of 145° F.
5 ways to add more nutrients to your lifestyle
(Family Features) A nutritious diet is crucial for overall health and well-being. While it’s OK to indulge from time to time, it’s important to make sure you’re providing your body with appropriate nourishment.
There are many ways to help you add more of the essential nutrients you need into everyday meals, including these nutritious ideas from CocoaVia.
Sneak in More Fruits and Vegetables.
You can bulk up the nutritional value of nearly any meal by incorporating fruits or vegetables directly into your recipes. Pureeing veggies is a good way to disguise textures or flavors you might typically avoid. For example, celery is a natural flavor enhancer for many types of broth soup. Adding finely pureed celery to the stock will add the flavor without the crunchy bits. You can also slip vegetables like spinach or carrots into smoothies, and depending on the base and fruit, you may never even taste them. Fresh, canned or frozen, fruit can give a boost of nutrition to dishes like oatmeal or pudding. You can also use purees (think applesauce) as a low-fat substitute for eggs and oil in baked goods like cake.
Fresh fruits and vegetables provide a wealth of essential vitamins and nutrients, but you may be surprised that their frozen counterparts do the same. Frozen foods are often perceived as less nutritious, but they can contain just as many nutrients as fresh produce. In fact, since freezing often involves picking the food at its peak and then quickly freezing it, freezing can actually help retain vitamins more efficiently than refrigeration or canning; frozen vegetables can actually hold on to nutrients longer than fresh produce and are a great alternative when seasonal fruits and vegetables are unavailable. In many cases, frozen veggies also make it easy to experiment with better-for-you meals because the cleaning and prep work is already done. You can try adding them to soups, stir-fries, casseroles and even pasta dishes.
If you’ve historically shied away from cooked vegetables, you may find that proper preparation is the secret ingredient. Not only does overcooking veggies deplete their flavor, in most cases it also diminishes their nutritional value. Cook veggies lightly and quickly using methods like stir-frying or steaming to help retain water-soluble nutrients like vitamins B and C.
You may think of dishes covered in rich gravy or sauce as unhealthy, and in some cases, you would be right. However, it’s actually quite possible to create saucy dishes that taste terrific. Both tomato sauce and pesto add nutrients and can top pretty much anything, from pastas to grilled chicken. Tomato sauce contains lycopene, a bright plant pigment known as a carotenoid that has been linked to a range of health benefits. Pesto is traditionally made with healthy pine nuts and basil, but you can also get creative and prepare this light sauce alternative with options such as arugula, spinach and heart-healthy walnuts or pecans.
Consider Cocoa Flavanols.
Another option to consider adding to your diet is cocoa flavanols. These plant-based phytonutrients are found naturally in cocoa, and research supports that these flavanols work within your body to help maintain healthy blood flow. While chocolate, including dark chocolate and natural (non-alkalized) cocoa powder, can be sources of cocoa flavanols, they are often not a reliable source of cocoa flavanols. The way cocoa is handled matters in the retention of these phytonutrients. However, one easy way to add cocoa flavanols to your routine is by incorporating a daily cocoa extract supplement, such as CocoaVia, which contains the highest concentration available in a cocoa extract supplement today. The supplement can be added to the food or beverage of your choice, like a Chocolate-Chai Smoothie or coffee. Visit CocoaVia.com for more information about cocoa flavanols and ideas for adding them to your diet.
The Truth About Chocolate
While there are many misconceptions about chocolate, especially when it comes to its health benefits, these facts from the experts at CocoaVia set the record straight on some of the most common chocolate myths.
- Chocolate contains powerful antioxidants.
Chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, does contain cocoa flavanols, phytonutrients which numerous scientific studies have demonstrated have a positive impact on health. However, cocoa flavanols are not antioxidants. While not antioxidants, cocoa flavanols have been shown to have positive effects on health that are linked to their ability to support the health and function of your blood vessels.
- Chocolate is good for your heart.
Chocolate can be part of a healthy diet, but it is not a health food. Even if chocolate is high in cocoa flavanols, the calories, fat and sugar leave it best-suited as an occasional indulgence.
- Chocolate containing 70 percent cacao or greater is good for you.
The percentage of cacao is not a reliable indicator of a product's cocoa flavanol content. Unfortunately, there is also no way of knowing exactly how many cocoa flavanols are in a conventional chocolate product because traditional cocoa processing, which includes fermenting, drying and roasting of beans, destroys many of the flavanols naturally present in the cocoa bean.
- Chocolate is high in caffeine.
Chocolate does contain caffeine, but an average 1-ounce serving of dark chocolate contains less than half the amount of caffeine found in an average cup of black tea. The amount of caffeine in chocolate is in proportion to the percentage of cacao in the product, meaning milk chocolate contains less caffeine than semi-sweet or dark chocolate.
Makes: 1 smoothie
- 1/2 cup boiling water
- 1 chai-flavored tea bag
- 1/2 cup fat-free milk
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ice cubes
- 1 packet CocoaVia Unsweetened Dark Chocolate (or Sweetened Dark Chocolate) supplement
- In measuring cup with pour spout, pour boiling water over tea bag. Let steep 5 minutes; remove tea bag.
- Pour milk and tea into blender; add honey, a handful of ice and cocoa extract supplement. Cover and blend until smooth.
Nutritional information per serving: 130 calories; 1 g total fat; 50 mg sodium; 27 g carbohydrates; 1 g dietary fiber; 24 g sugar; 5 g protein; 375 mg cocoa flavanols.
Content courtesy of CocoaVia
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (man and woman in kitchen)
Source: Cocoa Via