(Family Features) For many families, spending special moments with loved ones feels more important than ever this year. Whether you’re spending the holidays with family or inviting them for a virtual call from afar, you can plan ahead to enjoy the same dishes even without being at the same table.
Tap into family favorites like these seasonal sweets that include California Walnuts for rich, holiday-worthy flavor. Overnight Walnut French Toast with Cranberry Walnut Ginger Compote offers a tart-sweet combination perfect for a holiday brunch and allows you to prep the night before and simply pop in the oven when you wake up.
Drizzled with a chocolate-peppermint glaze and finished with walnuts and crushed peppermint candies, a Walnut Chocolate Peppermint Bundt Cake can provide the perfect finish to the festivities. The soft cake and crunchy walnuts contrast for an ultimate texture combination.
Find more sweet holiday recipes at walnuts.org.
Overnight Walnut French Toast with Cranberry Walnut Ginger Compote
Total time: 1 hour
Cranberry Walnut Ginger Compote:
- 1/2 cup California Walnuts
- 2 cups cranberries
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 orange, zest only
Overnight Walnut French Toast:
- 8 slices Texas Toast or 1-inch thick slices French bread
- 1/4 cup butter, melted, plus additional for baking dish, divided
- 2 1/2 cups milk or walnut milk
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 6 eggs
- To make Cranberry Walnut Ginger Compote: Preheat oven to 350 F. Place walnuts on baking sheet and toast 8 minutes. Remove from heat and chop coarsely.
- In medium pot over medium heat, combine toasted walnuts, cranberries, orange juice, syrup, ginger and orange zest. Bring to boil and stir frequently 12-15 minutes until cranberries pop and liquid starts to reduce.
- Transfer to container and refrigerate once cooled.
- To make Overnight Walnut French Toast: Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Place bread on baking sheet and bake 5 minutes, or until lightly toasted on outside but still soft on inside. Butter 13-by-9-inch baking dish.
- In large bowl, whisk milk, sugar, 1/4 cup butter, vanilla extract, cinnamon and eggs. Dip each bread slice in mixture and let soak about 15 seconds on each side. Place in prepared baking dish, overlapping slices slightly, if necessary.
- Cover and refrigerate a few hours or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake 50-60 minutes, or until golden brown and somewhat firm to touch. Serve immediately topped with Cranberry Walnut Ginger Compote.
Walnut Chocolate Peppermint Bundt Cake
Total time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
- 1 cup butter, plus additional for greasing pan, divided
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus additional for dusting pan, divided
- 1 cup water
- 2 1/4 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
- 3 eggs
- 2 cups flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup California Walnut halves and pieces
Chocolate Peppermint Truffle Glaze:
- 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped California Walnuts
- 1/2 cup crushed peppermint candy
- To make cake: Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly butter bundt pan then dust with cocoa powder. Turn pan, tapping, to coat on all sides; tap out excess.
- In small saucepan over low heat, melt 1 cup butter, 1/2 cup cocoa powder and water, whisking until smooth; let cool.
- Transfer to bowl of mixer and lightly beat in sugar, peppermint extract and eggs.
- In medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Add about 1/3 of dry ingredients to chocolate mixture and beat on low speed to combine. Add 1/4 cup buttermilk and beat again. Repeat steps ending with flour mixture, mixing only until combined. Fold in walnuts.
- Spread in prepared pan and bake 50-60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool then invert onto serving plate or platter.
- To make Chocolate Peppermint Truffle Glaze: While cake bakes, melt chocolate chips, butter, milk and peppermint extract together until smooth. Let cool slightly to thicken then drizzle over cake. Top with walnuts and peppermint candies.
Source: California Walnuts
(Family Features) While eating healthy and enjoying sweets seldom go hand-in-hand, choosing the right combination of nutritious ingredients can allow for guilt-free indulgences that shirks conventional dieting wisdom. In fact, some eating plans take it a step further by actually encouraging eating big in the evening when you’re naturally hungriest to help achieve your weight loss goals.
For example, “Always Eat After 7 PM,” written by Joel Marion, CISSN, NSCA-CPT, five-time best-selling e-book author and co-founder of the e-commerce supplement company BioTrust Nutrition, debunks popular diet myths and offers an easy-to-follow diet that accelerates fat-burning and allows you to indulge in your most intense cravings by eating the majority of your calories at night. The outlined plan features a 14-day “acceleration phase” designed for rapid results, a “main phase” when you’ll learn which fat-burning foods to eat to achieve your weight loss goals and a “lifestyle phase” to keep the weight off for good.
Conventional wisdom dictates that it’s best to avoid carbs, eat an early dinner and never eat immediately before bed. However, Marion debunks the myths underlying traditional dieting with a simple, highly effective weight loss program allowing readers to enjoy social dinners without restriction, satisfy nighttime hunger with fat-burning sweet and salty pre-bedtime snacks and indulge cravings with strategically timed cheat meals.
With straightforward food lists, easy-to-follow meal plans and recipes for each phase, this can be a simpler, more enjoyable way to lose weight without feeling restricted. Taken directly from the book, these recipes for No Bake Salted Caramel Bars, Cherry Garcia Ice Cream and Fruit Tarts can satisfy that sweet tooth before heading to bed.
Learn more about the diet and book at joelmarion.com.
Recipe courtesy of “Always Eat After 7 PM”
Prep time: 40 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
- 8 egg yolks
- 1 cup raw honey
- 1 tablespoon coconut flour
- 3 cans (13 2/3 ounces each) full-fat coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
Sugar Cookie Crust:
- 1/2 cup coconut oil, plus additional for greasing
- 1/2 cup palm shortening
- 1 cup coconut palm sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 egg yolks
- 1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup blanched almond flour
- 1⁄4 cup coconut flour
- 2 tablespoons arrowroot starch
- 2 kiwis, peeled and sliced
- 1 mango, peeled, pitted and sliced into 1/2-inch strips
- 1/2 cup raspberries
- 1/2 cup blackberries
- 1/2 cup blueberries
- 1/2 cup red grapes
- 1 cup strawberries, thinly sliced
- fresh mint leaves, for garnish
- To make custard: In saucepan, whisk egg yolks and honey until smooth. Mix in coconut flour.
- In medium saucepan over medium heat, combine coconut milk, vanilla extract and lemon zest; bring to boil then remove from heat.
- Pour hot milk mixture into egg yolk mixture, stirring while pouring. Over low heat, simmer 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Remove from heat and let cool, continuing to stir occasionally. Once cooled to room temperature, pour into individual custard cups. Chill in refrigerator 30 minutes, or until serving.
- To make crust: Heat oven to 350° F. Line bottom of pie pan with parchment paper and grease with coconut oil.
- In large mixing bowl using electric mixer on high, beat coconut oil and palm shortening 30 seconds. Add coconut palm sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt; beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla until combined. Beat in almond flour, coconut flour and starch. Chill dough in refrigerator 15 minutes.
- Press chilled cookie dough into bottom of pie pan and 2 inches up sides. Bake 12 minutes, or until crust is golden and browned on top and edges. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes. Place cooled crust in refrigerator 30 minutes or overnight before assembling.
- To assemble fruit tarts: Spread custard over chilled crust. Decorate top in circular pattern with kiwis, mango strips, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, grapes and strawberries.
- Before serving, chill at least 30 minutes or freeze 1 hour to help keep toppings in place.
- Remove from freezer and set out at room temperature 20 minutes before slicing. Garnish with mint leaves.
Nutritional information per serving: 192 calories; 14 g fat; 16 g carbohydrates; 61 mg sodium; 2 g fiber; 1 g protein; 9 g sugar.
Cherry Garcia Ice Cream
Recipe courtesy of “Always Eat After 7 PM”
Prep time: 10 minutes
- 1/4 cup fresh Bing cherries, pitted and halved
- 1/4 cup stevia-sweetened dark chocolate bar, chopped
- 3 overripe frozen bananas, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 pinch sea salt
- Chill cherries and dark chocolate.
- In food processor, pulse frozen bananas, milk and salt until smooth, creamy consistency of soft serve is achieved. Stir in cherries and chocolate. Serve immediately or place in freezer-safe container and freeze until serving.
Nutritional information per serving: 165 calories; 7 g fat; 27 g carbohydrates; 134 mg sodium; 6 g fiber; 2 protein; 12 g sugar.
No Bake Salted Caramel Bars
Recipe courtesy of “Always Eat After 7 PM”
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
- 2 1/2 cups raw pecans
- 8 pitted dates, soaked in hot water 10 minutes then drained
- 2 tablespoons blanched almond flour
- 1 teaspoon coconut flour
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 cup granular zero-calorie, natural sweetener
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
- 1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
- 1/2 cup granular zero-calorie, natural sweetener
- 2 tablespoons full-fat coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 pinch sea salt
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 cups stevia-sweetened chocolate chips
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- coconut oil
- 1/3 cup dry roasted macadamia nuts, chopped
- coarse sea salt
- To make cookie layer: Place large skillet over medium heat. Spread pecans over skillet and toast, stirring often, 8-10 minutes until golden. Remove from heat.
- Transfer toasted pecans to food processor and pulse until fine. Add dates, almond flour, coconut flour, sea salt, sweetener and coconut oil; pulse until dough forms.
- To make caramel layer: In skillet over medium heat, combine coconut palm sugar, sweetener, coconut milk, coconut oil, sea salt and vanilla extract; bring to boil. Once boiling, decrease heat to low and cook 5 minutes, stirring often.
- Remove skillet from heat; whisk in baking soda. Return pan to low heat and cook 2 minutes, stirring often.
- Remove caramel from heat and let cool and thicken 5 minutes.
- To make chocolate layer: In double boiler, melt chocolate chips and coconut oil. Stir until mixture is smooth then remove from heat.
- To assemble salted caramel bars: Line bottom and sides of 9-by-9-inch baking pan with parchment paper, leaving some hanging over sides. Lightly rub parchment paper with coconut oil.
- Press cookie dough into bottom of pan to create even layer. Place in freezer 5 minutes to harden.
- Pour caramel over cookie layer and spread to coat evenly. Place in freezer 5 minutes. Pour chocolate over caramel and spread to cover evenly. Sprinkle with macadamia nuts and coarse salt. Place in freezer 10 minutes until chocolate sets.
- Use overhanging parchment paper to ease set mixture out of pan. Transfer to cutting board and slice into bite-size bars.
Nutritional information per serving: 180 calories; 15 g fat; 15 g carbohydrates; 56 mg sodium; 4 g fiber; 2 g protein; 4 g sugar.
Source: Promote A Book
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