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Friday, October 22, 2010

Pumpkin Soup and Pumpkin Hazelnut Cake Recipes with The Healthy Benefits


What's so good about pumpkins, anyway? No matter how health conscious your eating habits, everyone needs a little dessert sometimes. Pumpkin is perfect when you want a healthy treat. That way, you can have all of the enjoyment without any of the guilt. Pumpkin can be used as a fat substitute in many recipes as well.

Pumpkin meat is very high in carotenoids. They're what give pumpkins their orange color—but that's the least of their benefits. Carotenoids are really good at neutralizing free radicals, nasty molecules that can attack cell membranes and leave the cells vulnerable to damage.

Pumpkins are also high in lutein and zeaxanthin, which scavenge free radicals in the lens of the eye. Therefore, they may help prevent the formation of cataracts and reduce the risk of macular degeneration, a serious eye problem than usually results in blindness.

High in fiber (high fiber diets aid the digestive process; help with weight management by helping you feel fuller sooner; help lower cholesterol; help fight heart disease by reducing the tendency of the blood to clot.

High in Vitamin C (Vitamin C help the body's immune functions; helps fight free radicals, which cause cellular damage; helps in the body's production of collagen, which is very important for those recovering from wounds and injuries; may offer cancer fighting properties.)

High in vitamin E (Vitamin E has antioxidant properties, which are essential to skin health and skin care; offers anti-aging benefits for the skin; help regulate Vitamin A in the body; aids in treating sun burns and various skin irritations.)

High in Magnesium (Magnesium is an importabt mineral that is essential to many normal biological functions of the body; important in the formation of bones and teeth.)
High in Potassium (Potassium is an important mineral that helps regulate blood pressure and proper heart function.)

High in a variety of carotenoids (Dietary carotenoids assist in lower risk of a variety of cancers, heart disease, cataracts and blindness, as well as helping fight the effects of aging; provides anti-inflamatory benefits; protects against cholesterol build up.)
So, eat pumpkin its good for you!!

Adapted from William Sonoma
  • 4 baking pumpkins or kabocha squash, each about 2 lb., quartered and
      seeded
  • Olive oil as needed
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 4 carrots, peeled and thickly sliced
  • 6 shallots, thickly sliced
  • 2 celery stalks, thickly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 Tbs. minced fresh sage
  • 12 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup apple cider, reduced to 2 Tbs. and cooled

Directions:

Position 1 rack in the upper third of an oven and 1 rack in the lower third, and preheat to 425°F.

Divide the pumpkins among 2 baking sheets. Drizzle the pumpkins with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the pumpkins, cut side down, on the baking sheets. Roast, turning the pumpkins occasionally, until they are tender and beginning to brown, about 45 minutes; rotate the baking sheets halfway through the roasting time. Let the pumpkins cool, then scoop the flesh into a bowl.

In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, warm 2 Tbs. olive oil. Add the carrots, shallots, celery, salt and pepper. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic, nutmeg and sage and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute. Add the pumpkin flesh and broth, cover the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth.

In a bowl, whisk the cream until slightly thickened. Whisk in the reduced apple cider until blended. Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and drizzle with the cider cream. Serve immediately. Serves 12 to 14.


Pumpkin Hazelnut Tea Cake
    3/4 cup homemade or canned pumpkin puree
    3 tablespoons canola oil
     1/2 cup honey 
     3 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar 
     2 eggs, lightly beaten 
     1 cup whole-wheat (whole-meal) flour  
    1/2 cup all-purpose (plain) flour 
     2 tablespoons flaxseed 
     1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
     1/2 teaspoon ground allspice 
     1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
     1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
     1/4 teaspoon ground cloves 
     1/4 teaspoon salt 
     2 tablespoons chopped hazelnuts (filberts)
     Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly coat an 8-by-4-inch loaf pan with cooking spray or small individual size bundt pans.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on low speed, beat together the canola oil, pumpkin puree, honey, brown sugar and eggs until well blended.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flours, flaxseed, baking powder, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt. Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and, using the electric mixer on medium speed, beat until well blended.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the hazelnuts evenly over the top and press down gently to lodge the nuts into the batter. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 50 to 55 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Turn the loaf  or bundt cake  out of the pan onto the rack and let cool completely. Cut into slices to serve.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Fruit Kabobs with Lime Dip



4 ounces low-fat, sugar-free lemon or lime yogurt
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon lime zest

4 to 6 pineapple chunks
4 to 6 watermelon chunks 
4 to 6 strawberries sliced
1 kiwi, peeled and diced
1/2 banana, cut into 1/2-inch chunks (optional dipped in lemon juice to avoid browning)
4 to 6 red grapes and green
4 wooden skewers

Directions
In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, lime juice and lime zest. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

Thread one of each fruit onto the skewer. Repeat with the other skewers until all fruits are used. Serve with lime dip.
Eat your fruits and vegetables, one of the tried and true recommendations for a healthy diet. And for good reason. Eating plenty of vegetables and fruits can help you ward off heart disease and stroke, control blood pressure, prevent some types of cancer, avoid a painful intestinal ailment called diverticulitis, and guard against cataract and macular degeneration, two common causes of vision loss.

 Compared with those in the lowest category of fruit and vegetable intake (less than 1.5 servings a day), those who averaged 8 or more servings a day were 30 percent less likely to have had a heart attack or stroke.  Although all fruits and vegetables likely contribute to this benefit, green leafy vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, and mustard greens; cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, and kale; and citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit (and their juices) make important contributions. 

 Individuals who ate more than 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per had roughly a 20 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease , and stroke, compared with individuals who ate less than 3 servings per day.

High blood pressure is a primary risk factor for heart disease and stroke. As such, it's a condition that is important to control. Diet can be a very effective tool for lowering blood pressure, eating fruits and vegetables can help lower it by various studies.
Numerous early studies revealed what appeared to be a strong link between eating fruits and vegetables and protection against cancer.
The Bottom Line: Recommendations for Vegetable and Fruit Intake
Vegetables and fruits are clearly an important part of a good diet. Almost everyone can benefit from eating more of them, but variety is as important as quantity. No single fruit or vegetable provides all of the nutrients you need to be healthy. The key lies in the variety of different vegetables and fruits that you eat.
Keep fruit out where you can see it. That way you'll be more likely to eat it. Keep it out on the counter or in the front of the fridge.
Get some every meal, every day. Try filling half your plate with vegetables or fruit at each meal. Serving up salads, stir fry, or other fruit and vegetable-rich fare makes it easier to reach this goal. Bonus points if you can get some fruits and vegetables at snack time, too.
Explore the produce aisle and choose something new. Variety is the key to a healthy diet. Get out of a rut and try some new fruits and vegetables—include dark green leafy vegetables; yellow, orange, and red fruits and vegetables; cooked tomatoes; and citrus fruits.
Bag the potatoes. Choose other vegetables that are packed with more nutrients and more slowly digested carbs.
Make it a meal. Try some new recipes where vegetables take center stage