Pumpkins, Not Just for Carving

It’s that time of years again…falling leaves, bonfires, apple cider and PUMPKINS!

As an official symbol of the fall, pumkpins carry us from October through the end of November, varying in use and style.  However one thing never changes, and that’s the amazing health benefits of pumpkin.

Pumpkins contain the provitamin, beta-carotene, which converts to Vitamin A in the body.  Beta-carotene aids in healthy eyes, as well as preventing cornonary heart disease.  One cup of canned pumpkin has seven grams of fiber and three grams of protein— even more than the fresh stuff— and contains only 80 calories and one gram of fat. Plus, canned pumpkin is packed with vitamins and provides over 50 percent of the daily value of vitamin K, which may reduce the risk for some types of cancer.

Don’t forget about the seeds… Even more amazing health benefits are found in the seeds of the pumkpin!  These tiny powerhouses of nutrition are packed with magnesium, zinc, omega-3, phytoestrogens, healthy fats, fiber, tryptophan, protein and potassium.  Talk about a superfood!

Check back tomorrow for a delicious pumpkin brownie recipe!!

Advertisements

Keeping Summer Alive… Spiked Summer Pops & Slush!

Summer may have ended with the recent start of school, however that doesn’t mean that we need to say good-bye to summer fun for good yet.  With the recent craze of combining classic cocktails with slushes and popsicles, I found two amazing recipes for fresh and spirited concotions that I just had to share with you all!  I am currently working on some equally amazing, but more fall-oriented spirited creations – feel free to share any ideas of your own as well!

Blueberry Julep

Serving Size: 6
Preparation time – 10 minutes
Infusion time: 30 minutes
Freezing time: 6 hours

Ingredients


1/2 cup superfine raw sugar or stevia (agave nectar should work as well)

4 sprigs mint

1 cup water

2 cups blueberries

6 tablespoons bourbon

Place the sugar (or natural sugar alternative) and mint (use the whole mint sprig – stalks included- for a stronger minty taste) in a saucepan with 1 cup water and slowly bring to a boil, allowing the sugar to dissolve.  Simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from heat and allow to infuse for 30 minutes.

Place the blueberries and bourbon in a food processor or blender, and pour over the now-infused syrup, mint sprigs included.  Blitz (I had to look this one up – means to quickly blend or chop in your food processor or blender) until completely smooth.  Pour into 6 popsicle molds.

Place the molds in the freezer. Let set for 2 hours, insert popsicle sticks, and allow to freeze until completely solid (about 4 more hours).  ENJOY!

======================================================

The Jaliscito

Serving Size: 6
Preparation time – 10 minutes
Freezing time: 6 hours

Ingredients

1/2 cup superfine raw sugar, stevia or agave netar

1 lime – grated zest

1 cup water

1/3 cup lime juice (from 3-4 limes)

2 cups chopped watermelon

6 tablespoons tequila

2 tablespoons Grand Marinier

2 tablespoons agave nectar

Combine the sugar and lime zest in a saucepan with 1 cup water.  Place over low heat.  Bring to a simmer, allowing the sugar to dissolve.  Let bubble gently for 5 minutes, remove from heat and pour in the lime juice.

Place the chopped watermelon in a food procesor or blender, add the lime syrup, tequila, Grand Marinier and agave nectar.  Blitz until well combined.

Pour into a freezer-safe container, cover and place in the freezer for up to 6 hours, giving it a good stir every 2 hours.  Remove from freezer, blitz in a food processor or blender, and pour into glasses.  Thaw for about 10 minutes and then serve.  ENJOY!

Both of these recipes were found from Poptails by Laura Fyfe.

Zucchini Crust Pizza

Zucchini Crust Pizza Recipe photo by Taste of Home

Last night I finally tried the cauliflower crust pizza that has been on my goal list for a while now.  Delicious!  While not being a huge cauliflower fan, I was pleasantly surprised with the results.  The caulifower taste was pretty masked, and my kiddos even happily ate it, however they preferred no sauce on theirs.  

As fate has it, today I came across another brilliant idea for a grain-free pizza crust using zucchini and wanted to share it with you all.  I researched quite a few different recipes and edited the version below to my own likings…  It is also simple to create a vegan version of this pizza with egg replacer and dairy-free cheese…  I cannot wait to try this!  Mangia!! 

Zucchini Pizza Crust

  • large zucchini, shredded about 2 cups
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded parmesean or mozzarella cheese
  • handful of fresh torn basil or 2 teaspoons dried
  • salt and pepper
  • 15 oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • dried oregano
  • pepper flakes
  • garlic powder
  • 3/4 pound mozzarella cheese (sliced or shredded)
  • toppings of your choice
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Toss the shredded zucchini with salt and let it sit in a colander for about ten minutes. Squeeze handfuls of zucchini to remove any excess water. Add the eggs, cheese, basil, salt and pepper to the drained zucchini and mix well. Spread the ‘dough’ evenly into a well greased pie pan or parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until the crust is browned on the edges. Remove from oven and add crushed tomatoes (or sauce of your choice), sprinkle oregano, pepper flakes and garlic power.  Add cheese, shredded or sliced mozzarella.  Finally place any preferred toppings.  Bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until edges and cheese are slightly browned.  Enjoy!!

Teach Our Youth LOVE for Our Bodies~Not Hate!

Image

Being involved in the dance, fashion and fitness worlds, I am very familiar with self-loathing and disgust for our bodies.  How more often than not, we pick our bodies apart into sections that we love and we hate.  And the parts that we hate are often where we dwell.   I want to be sure that my children are not taught to look for the negative in their bodies, but to love and appreciate the wonderful things that our bodies can do.

To begin, don’t bring up their bodies with attention to size.  Talk about health.  Talk about why health is important so their bodies operate the best they can to make us happy.  Talk about the different functions that parts of their bodies complete all by its amazing self.  Where does our food go after we eat?  How do our bodies use the food we eat?  What foods are more beneficial to help our bodies run more efficiently?  What happens when we eat junk foods that do not nourish our bodies?  Where does that food go?  Explain how much harder our bodies need to work to figure out what exactly it is we are ingesting because our systems do not recognize the ingredients to be used in any functional way.  Help them understand the big picture, for it will give them a more solid understanding of why being healthy is so wonderful.

Ignore weight.  Weight is a number we are supposed to use within reason to base health upon.  That is crazy.  A number on a scale has absolutely no measure of someone’s health.  We are not weighed based upon our height, muscle mass or fluids inside.  In my opinion it’s okay to use weight for ‘scientific’ purposes, thus recording an indicator of your physical pull to the earth over the span of your lifetime and to observe changes based upon external circumstances.  However hearing my 6 year old telling my 8 year old that she weighs more than her, and she is proud of it, only reminds me that it will soon not be something she is taught to be proud of in society, and secondly, I do not want her even considering for a moment how much she weighs.  It’s not of any importance. None.

As an adult we are conditioned that dieting is necessary to achieve good health.  That is bogus.  How about eating healthy most of the time, and consuming the foods that give our bodies no nourishment in moderation.  Teach by example and don’t make it seem torturous or difficult.  For I believe that is learned as well.  What if we could teach our kids to enjoy eating healthy by our own example and show them we do enjoy healthy foods.  I am here to tell you that WE CAN!!! 🙂

Don’t talk about other women’s or men’s bodies at all in front of your kids.  Not complimenting or berating.  Don’t wish for someone’s tight abs, or criticize someone’s muffin top.  Why?  Because what are our kids learning from that?  They are learning to value what we say.  So keep it to yourself, and just maybe they will be able to escape the judgements that so many of us heard and picked up as we matured.  Instead of complimenting someone’s amazing body, can’t we compliment their kind action?  Or how well someone shared?  Or was generous?

Explain the benefits of exercise for health purposes.  How it helps us de-stress.  Or how great we feel after yoga.  Or going for a run helps us feel our hearts being used and pumping blood through our bodies.  Or even how walking outside helps us connect with nature and sleep better.

Give your kids the chance to get athletic through any activity because it helps their brains learn in new ways.  How their muscles work better with the more they are used.  How their lungs are given the chance to fill with more oxygen and how that oxygen is necessary for us.  How the social interactions are encouraging our kids to learn about different types of people, and how they are given the chance to co-exist with others in ways that they may or may not appreciate quite yet.

Overall, teach our kids to love their bodies because they are the only ones they will ever get.