(Family Features) For those who are always on the go leading up to the holidays, the season can feel more like madness than merrymaking. From planning get-togethers to building out a perfect menu for the events, there can be difficulties for hosts and guests alike to ensure proper nutrition is still top of mind.
Instead of sacrificing taste or eating less, aim for simple changes that give you the energy to power through the busy season. For example, instead of opting for a carb-loaded breakfast in the morning, try a low-carb Milk Chocolate Protein Muffin, which takes just a few minutes of prep and microwave time. The quick cook time leaves you with ample opportunities to run errands or divvy up precious seconds toward other activities, while the protein can fuel you for the day ahead.
Almost nothing beats warm soup on a chilly day, and this Butternut Squash and Pear Soup provides feel-good flavor without weighing you down. Finally, when snacks are on the mind – as it tends to happen when constantly on the go – Coconut Muesli Clusters are simple to make and won’t undo the nutritious efforts you’ve made throughout the day.
This full menu of tasty recipes is part of the Atkins low-carb lifestyle, a long-term, healthy eating approach focused on high-fiber carbohydrates, optimal protein and healthy fats. The plan also aims to reduce levels of refined carbohydrates, added sugars and the “hidden sugar effect,” – when carbohydrates convert to sugar when digested. You don’t see the sugar, but your body does.
An On-the-Go Energy Boost
As a hectic holiday season unfolds, it can be difficult to maintain energy while making dishes for get-togethers and keeping up with the festivities.
To stay fueled and energized throughout the season, try incorporating Atkins Plus Protein and Fiber Shakes. Sweet and creamy, they make for ideal snacks, containing 30 grams of high-quality dairy protein and 7 grams of fiber. To help ensure steady blood sugar levels, the shakes also have a low glycemic impact and are made with 20 vitamins and minerals.
Available in Creamy Milk Chocolate and Creamy Vanilla flavors, the ready-to-drink shakes provide hunger satisfaction for those who are on the go and seeking to maximize production with a busy schedule.
Find more ways to live healthier during the holidays and learn more about the benefits of a balanced, low-carb lifestyle at Atkins.com.
Milk Chocolate Protein Muffin
Recipe courtesy of Atkins
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 1 minute
- 2 tablespoons full-fat cream cheese
- 1 egg
- 3 tablespoons Atkins Milk Chocolate Protein Powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 dash salt
- In microwave-safe mug, heat cream cheese 10-15 seconds to soften. Add egg and blend briskly using fork. Add protein powder, baking powder, cinnamon and salt; blend until smooth.
- Microwave on high 1 minute; muffin will puff up then deflate slightly once done. Remove from mug and enjoy warm.
Coconut Muesli Clusters
Recipe courtesy of “Atkins: Eat Right, Not Less”
Active time: 10 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes
- Olive oil spray
- 1 cup plain protein powder
- 1/2 cup unsalted sunflower or pumpkin seeds
- 1 cup whole raw pecans
- 1 cup unsweetened whole flake shredded coconut
- 1/2 cup chia seeds or ground flaxseeds
- 1 tablespoon stevia
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon peanut butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 cup water
- Heat oven to 350° F. Line large baking sheet with parchment paper, coat with olive oil spray and set aside.
- In large bowl, mix together protein powder, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, pecans, coconut, chia seeds or flaxseeds, stevia, cinnamon and turmeric.
- In large skillet, combine coconut oil, peanut butter and vanilla extract; melt completely then stir in nut mixture. Turn heat off and add eggs and water, tossing well. Transfer to prepared baking sheet and spread mixture in layer about 1/2-inch thick.
- Bake 10-15 minutes until mixture starts to brown and clumps together to make clusters. Cool completely on baking sheet then store in airtight container, refrigerated, up to 1 week.
Butternut Squash and Pear Soup
Recipe courtesy of Atkins
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 medium (2 1/2-inch diameter) onion, chopped
- 2 pounds butternut winter squash, cubed
- 1 medium pear, sliced, plus additional, for garnish (optional)
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 5 cups chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- nutmeg (optional)
- In large pot over medium heat, melt butter. Add onions and saute until translucent, about 6 minutes. Add squash, pear, curry powder, salt and white pepper; saute 3 minutes.
- Increase heat to high and add chicken broth. Bring to boil then reduce heat to low; simmer 20-25 minutes, uncovered, until cubed squash is very tender. Allow to cool about 10-15 minutes.
- In blender or food processor, puree soup in batches until smooth. Return pureed soup to pot and add lemon juice and heavy cream. Stir soup over low heat until hot. Garnish with additional sliced pears and sprinkle of nutmeg, if desired.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (Butternut Squash and Pear Soup, Milk Chocolate Protein Muffin)
Bake a festive brunch spread
(Family Features) Easter is a time meant to be spent creating memories with loved ones. Even when hosting duties fall on your plate, creating the perfect brunch spread doesn’t have to be a daunting task. If you take advantage of quality ingredients and recipes that feature simple preparation, your spread can impress even the pickiest of guests.
Look for diverse ingredients that can be incorporated into a variety of spring recipes: a versatile cheese like Jarlsberg is easy to cook with, whether your menu features light or savory dishes, or a combination of the two.
These tips and recipes from Chef George Duran, host of TLC’s “Ultimate Cake Off” and Food Network’s “Ham on the Street,” can help you prepare a scrumptious meal that lets you keep your attention where it belongs – on the festivities of the day.
- Keep ingredients like puff pastry sheets, cheeses and various spices and seasonings that work in a multitude of dishes on-hand all year long.
- Look for a cheese that won’t overpower other spring flavors; choose a mild, nutty cheese like Jarlsberg, best known for its classic wedge but also available sliced.
- Choose dishes that can be prepared in advance, such as quiches or muffins.
- Work to incorporate a variety of flavors that complement each other, such as mixed vegetables and smooth, nutty cheese.
Find more tips and recipes for a festive, seasonal brunch at jarlsberg.com.
- 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
- 2 cups Jarlsberg Cheese, shredded
- 1 pound asparagus
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- Heat oven to 400° F. Prepare baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Roll out puff pastry into 16-by-10-inch rectangle; trim uneven edges. Place on baking sheet. Using knife, lightly score pastry dough 1 inch from edges. Using fork, pierce dough inside markings at 1/2-inch intervals. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes.
- Remove pastry shell from oven and sprinkle with shredded cheese. Trim bottoms of asparagus spears to fit crosswise inside pastry shell; arrange in single layer over cheese, alternating ends and tips. Brush with oil, sprinkle with thyme leaves and season with salt and pepper. Bake until spears are tender, about 20 minutes.
Festive Salmon Cake
- 2 cans (16 ounces each) red salmon or tuna, drained and flaked
- 1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
- 2 1/2 cups shredded Jarlsberg Cheese, divided
- 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
- 2 lightly beaten eggs
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2 cup minced onion
- 1/2 cup parsley
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- package (16 ounces) frozen mixed vegetables, cooked and drained or 2 cups fresh, chopped mixed vegetables, steamed
- Heat oven to 350° F.
- In large bowl, combine canned fish, spinach, 1 1/2 cups cheese, bread crumbs, eggs and lemon juice; blend well. In skillet, saute onion and parsley in olive oil until onion is translucent. Add to fish mixture. Spread mixture into well-oiled 8-inch springform pan and bake 30 minutes. Top with remaining cheese.
- To serve, remove from pan. Place on serving platter or low pedestal and arrange mixed vegetables on top.
- 3/4 cup milk
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup plain flour
- 1 1/4 cups cornmeal
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 4 tablespoons softened butter
- 1/2 cup Jarlsberg Cheese, plus additional
- cured ham, thinly sliced (optional)
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pack fresh, flat-leaf parsley
- 1 garlic clove
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 1/4 cup cashews
- Heat oven to 375° F. Whisk together milk and eggs.
- In separate bowl, mix flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and butter. Add milk-egg mixture and stir. Spoon mixture into muffin cases.
- Cut cheese into cubes and press down into mixture. Bake in center of oven about 15 minutes.
- To make Nut Pesto: In blender or using hand blender, combine olive oil, parsley, garlic, walnuts, cashews, salt and pepper. Pulse or blend until coarsely chopped.
- Serve corn muffins with additional cheese, Nut Pesto and thin slices of cured ham, if desired.
Notes: If possible, use stiff paper cups, so muffins stand up better. Cornbread can also be baked in large, round baking pan, about 20 centimeters in diameter; adjust baking time as needed until done.
Puff Pastry Swirls
- 4 ready-rolled puff pastry sheets
- 1 1/4 cups grated Jarlsberg Cheese
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped
- Heat oven to 375° F.
- On lightly floured work surface using rolling pin, roll out pastry sheets into rectangles about 20-by-10 centimeters each. Mix cheese, rosemary and pepper. Spread mixture over puff pastry sheets.
- Roll up each pastry rectangle from short end. Press edges firmly together to seal roll. Slice each roll into 3-centimeter thick slices. Place face-down on baking sheet and bake about 15-20 minutes.
Note: To allow pastry swirls to rise more, don’t roll out pastry with rolling pin. Notes: If possible, use stiff paper cups, so muffins stand up better. Cornbread can also be baked in large, round baking pan, about 20 centimeters in diameter; adjust baking time as needed until done.
Sweet ideas for a bright, seasonal spread
(Family Features) Spring is blooming on your Easter table. From yellow chick cupcakes to blueberry French-toast casseroles, there are plenty of ways to wow your brunch guests with simple seasonal recipes.
“Between hiding eggs and preparing baskets, you may be tempted to fall back on brunch basics like pancakes and scrambled eggs, but that’s no fun,” McCormick Executive Chef Kevan Vetter said. “With simple pantry staples – like food color – and a little planning the night before, you can enjoy a fun and tasty holiday brunch.”
These simple tips from Vetter can help you transform a boring brunch into a colorful Easter feast.
- Waffle art is a fun way to get kids (and adults) involved during breakfast time. Try tinting the waffle batter orange by using McCormick Color from Nature Food Colors. Cut them into wedges hot out of the iron and pipe green frosting for the stems to create these Carrot-Shaped Waffles.
- Making French toast for a crowd can be a hassle. Instead, make a sweet breakfast casserole the night before to pop in the oven Easter morning. Add fresh, sweet-tart blueberries to celebrate spring.
- Rather than splurging on designer cupcakes, just pipe yellow marshmallow creme on mini cupcakes for a baby chick then decorate with sprinkles for the nose and cut up wafers to look like a hatching egg.
Baby Chick Cupcakes
Prep time: 30 minutes
- 1 package (12 ounces) white confectionary coating wafers
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
- 2 teaspoons McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract
- 1 box (16 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
- 1 jar (7 ounces) marshmallow creme
- 1 teaspoon Sunflower color from McCormick Color from Nature Food Colors
- 2 tablespoons milk, plus additional (optional)
- 48 unfrosted mini yellow cupcakes, baked in white paper liners
- sprinkles (optional)
- additional McCormick Color from Nature Food Colors (optional)
- To make broken egg shell pieces: melt coating wafers as directed on package. Spread on large foil-lined baking sheet to 1/4-inch thickness. Refrigerate about 10 minutes, or until firm. Break into small, irregular pieces. Set aside.
- In large bowl, beat butter with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add vanilla; mix well. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar, beating until well blended after each addition, frequently scraping sides and bottom of bowl. Beat in marshmallow creme until well blended. In small bowl, stir food color into milk until dissolved. Add colored milk to frosting; beat until light and fluffy. Stir in additional milk, as needed, to reach desired consistency.
- To decorate cupcakes: spoon frosting into large pastry bag fitted with large round tip. Pipe two dollops of frosting on top of each other to form baby chick. If desired, insert sprinkles into face for eyes and beak. Or tint any remaining frosting with food colors to pipe out eyes and beak.
- Place coating wafer pieces around bottom of baby chick to resemble broken egg shell.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 2 cups all-purpose waffle and baking mix
- 1 1/3 cups milk
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3 teaspoons McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract, divided
- 1 1/4 teaspoons Sunflower color from McCormick Color from Nature Food Colors, divided
- 1 teaspoon Berry color from McCormick Color from Nature Food Colors
- 1/2 teaspoon Sky Blue color from McCormick Color from Nature Food Colors
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
- Heat round waffle iron. Spray with nonstick cooking spray. In medium bowl, mix together waffle mix, milk, egg, oil, 2 teaspoons vanilla and 1 teaspoon each sunflower and berry colors until blended. Let batter stand 5 minutes to allow color to fully develop.
- Pour about 1/3 cup batter onto center of waffle iron. Close lid. Cook about 3 minutes, or until no longer steaming. Carefully remove waffle. Repeat with remaining batter. Cut each waffle into 8 triangles. Set aside.
- In another medium bowl, stir sky blue color and remaining sunflower color into cream. Add confectioners’ sugar and remaining vanilla; beat with electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. Spoon into re-sealable plastic bag. Cut piece off one bottom corner.
- To decorate and serve waffles, place waffle triangles onto serving plates and pipe green colored cream on wide side of each triangle to resemble carrot tops.
Overnight Lemon Blueberry Muffin Casserole
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
- 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2 teaspoons McCormick Cinnamon, Ground
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) cold butter, cut into chunks
- 6 eggs
- 1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons, milk, divided
- 1/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons, granulated sugar, divided
- 1 teaspoon McCormick Cinnamon, Ground
- 1 loaf French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
- nonstick cooking spray
- 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
- 1 tablespoon McCormick Pure Lemon Extract
- 2 cups blueberries, divided
- To make Streusel Topping: In medium bowl, mix together brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cover. Set aside until ready to assemble in the morning.
- To make Casserole: In large bowl, mix together eggs, 1 cup milk, 1/4 cup granulated sugar and cinnamon with wire whisk until well blended. Add bread cubes; toss gently to coat. Pour evenly into 13-by-9-inch baking dish sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.
- In medium bowl, mix together cream cheese, remaining milk and sugar, and lemon extract until well blended. Gently stir in 1 cup blueberries. Spread evenly on top of bread cubes. Top with remaining blueberries. Cover. Refrigerate overnight.
- Heat oven to 350° F.
- Remove casserole from refrigerator. Let stand 10-15 minutes.
- Cut butter into Streusel Topping mixture with pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over casserole. Bake 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Quality nutrition for the perfect start to longer spring days
(Family Features) With warm weather on the horizon, it’s time to turn the clocks forward and say “so long” to winter and “hello” to longer spring days. With an extra hour of daylight ahead, spring is the perfect season to get outside, enjoy the fresh air and get the family on track with healthy habits and quality nutrition – starting at breakfast.
As you plan morning meals for your family this spring, remember that milk provides important nourishment – like high-quality protein – for you and your kids. As one of the original farm-to-table food, this wholesome drink typically arrives on grocery store shelves in just two days from many family-owned and -operated dairy farms. Milk is minimally processed for safety and farm fresh, often originating from dairy farms fewer than 300 miles away from your grocery store.
Start off warm springtime mornings with a sweet, butterfly-inspired twist on a breakfast sandwich made with Mandarin orange slices, sure to get your kids excited about wholesome choices at breakfast. Pair with an 8-ounce glass of milk to give your kids more of what they already love, with protein they need to give them a good start on the day.
For more information and kid-friendly recipes with milk, visit milklife.com.
Recipe by Tiffany Edwards of Creme de la Crumb
- 1 white English muffin
- 2 tablespoons whipped cream cheese
- 6 blueberries
- 4 mandarin orange slices
- 1 green grape, cut into strips
- Slice and toast English muffin. Spread cream cheese on both halves of muffin.
- Arrange three blueberries in a line down the middle of each half of the muffin and place a mandarin orange slice on each side of the blueberry lines to serve as wings of the butterfly. Place grape strips above blueberry line as antennas.
- Serve with an 8-ounce glass of milk.
Nutritional information per serving: 310 calories; 8 g fat; 4 g saturated fat; 30 mg cholesterol; 14 g protein; 46 g carbohydrates; 2 g fiber; 440 mg sodium; 364 mg calcium (35% of daily value). Nutrition figures based on using fat free milk, and include an 8-ounce glass of milk.
- 3 cups refrigerated shredded hash browns
- 3 tablespoons melted butter
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 12 links Johnsonville Original Breakfast Sausage
- 6 eggs
- 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
- Chopped fresh chives or green onions, for garnish
- Place 12 paper liners in a muffin pan; spray liners with cooking spray.
- In bowl, combine hash browns, butter, salt and pepper. Press hash brown mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the muffin cups. Bake at 400°F for 12 minutes or until lightly browned.
- Meanwhile, cook sausage according to package directions; cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Divide sausage between muffin cups.
- Combine eggs, cheese and bell pepper. Pour over sausage. Sprinkle with chives. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until set.
Yield 12 servings