Category Archives: Fruit

Breakfast Smoothies

Various fruit smoothies isolated on white background
Image by elenaphoto

The breakfast smoothies listed below are all fruit-based and are excellent for breakfast when there is little time to prepare full meals. Some are made with Greek yoghurt, which can be done with most of them if you want to add a little protein.

If you avoid using refined sugar and juices with additives, these can be a healthy, nutritious way to start your day.

Use the recipes below as starting points – adding or substituting ingredients to fit your personal preferences. It is almost impossible to make a bad smoothie when you stick with the basics.

Place all ingredients for each smoothie in a blender and blend until smooth. Add additional ice for thicker consistency and additional liquid for thinner consistency.

Local honey and real maple syrup are the best natural sweeteners available. I do not recommend any other sweeteners.

Almond milk, coconut water, freshly squeezed juices, and water are the best liquids. When in a crunch, milk can be used, as well. A couple of the recipes call for pineapple juice, which is difficult to find in its natural state unless you make your own. Since I tend to be a purist (no additives), I often substitute pineapple juice with OJ that I make myself; but, it can be less sweet than pineapple juice, so adjust the amount of sweetener – to your personal taste.

I do not recommend that you drink a breakfast smoothie every morning (although it is better than not eating at all – or than gulping down a cup of strong coffee and a doughnut); but once or twice a week on extremely busy days, smoothies are a good option.

Banana Cream Pie Smoothie

  • 1 medium banana (sliced and frozen)
  • 1 (5.3 oz. carton) Oikos Greek Yoghurt – Plain
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup almond milk (regular milk will also work)
  • 2 – 4 vanilla wafers
  • 1 T. local honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup ice (more if needed)

Apple Banana Crunch Smoothie

• 1 medium banana (frozen)
• 1 fresh apple (peeled and cored)
• Substitute apple with 1 cup frozen strawberries
• 5 raw almonds
• 1 (5.3 oz. carton) Oikos Greek Yoghurt – Plain
• ¼ teaspoon vanilla
• ¾ cup almond milk
• ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
• ¼ tsp fresh grated ginger
• 2 teaspoons local honey
• ½ cup ice (adjust amount to reach desired consistency)

Banana Mango Apple Smoothie

• 1 cup fresh mango (sliced)
• 1 banana
• 1 apple (peeled and cored)
• ½ cup pineapple or fresh orange juice
• ½ cup cold water
• Enough ice to create desired consistency
• Add a little local honey if it is too tart

Berry Banana Apple Smoothie

• 1 medium banana (frozen)
• 1 crisp apple (peeled and cored)
• 4 ounces pineapple juice
• 1 cup raspberries, strawberries or blueberries (fresh or frozen)
• 2 tablespoons cranberry juice
• Dash of nutmeg
• 1 cup ice (If using frozen fruit, you can use less ice)
• Enough cold water to blend well

Strawberry Apricot Smoothie

• 1 cup fresh strawberries (washed and hulled)
• 1 large medium-ripe apricot
• 1 banana (frozen)
• 1/3 cup almond milk
• ½ cup ice
• 1 scant T. honey

Banana Peach Strawberry Avocado Smoothie

• 1 banana (fresh or frozen)
• 1 medium-ripe peach (peeled and pitted)
• 1 cup strawberries (washed and hulled)
• 1 medium ripe avocado
• ½ cup pineapple juice
• ½ cup cold water (add more if needed)
• Small amount of ice

Cherry Strawberry Smoothie

• 1½ cup pitted sweet red cherries (fresh or frozen, unsweetened)
• 1 banana (frozen)
• 1 – 1½ cups strawberries (fresh or frozen)
• 2 teaspoons local honey
• 1 T. Chia seeds
• Juice of one orange, plus enough cold water to make 1 cup liquid.
• Add ice as needed for thickness

I ran across this wonderful tool you may want to check out: http://www.healthsomeness.com/smoothies/.  It will help you find more smoothie recipes that are just right for you. Have fun! 

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Easy Healthy Breakfast Recipes

Today is the day for a few easy healthy breakfast recipes that you can try right away. You can whip them up in no time and enjoy the delicious foods as a family.

We will start with a traditional omelet, which can be very healthy when made with the right ingredients.  A basic omelet filled with cheese (or meat) and vegetables is the perfect way to start  the day. It is filled with protein and vital nutrients from the veggies; plus, you will enjoy a wonderful blend of textures and flavors.

Veggie Omelet

Image by ccharmon
Image by ccharmon

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 T. butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup broccoli spears (tiny)
  • 1 small onion (diced)
  • ¼ cup real cheddar cheese (grated)
  • You can substitute any kind of meat (chicken, steak, or ham) for the cheese if you prefer
  • 1 small tomato (diced)
  • Salt and freshly-ground pepper, to taste.

DIRECTIONS

  1. Steam broccoli until fork tender (can be cooked the night before).
  2. Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat on your stove.
  3. Add 1 tablespoon high-quality olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter (not margarine).
  4. Scramble the eggs in a bowl until they are pale yellow.
  5. Stir-in diced tomato, onion, steamed broccoli, and cheese or meat to the egg mixture and blend well.
  6. Season to taste.
  7. Pour the mixture into the pan.
  8. Let the mixture cook until it begins to set.
  9. Then, gently lift the omelet from the bottom of the pan and fold it over on itself.
  10. Continue to cook over low heat until set – do NOT overcook.
  11. Serve immediately with a piece of 100% whole wheat toast lightly spread with almond butter.

You can substitute any vegetable that you enjoy: spinach, mixed veggies, green/red peppers, etc. My seasoning preference is salt and pepper, but change it up as you like by adding additional seasonings to taste: basil, oregano, cilantro, parsley, etc. 

Oatmeal with Fruit, Nuts, and Spices

A simple breakfast that will keep you feeling full until lunch.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup of rolled oats
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 banana (chopped into small pieces)
  • ¼ of a cup of pitted dates (chopped into small pieces)
  • 1/3 of a cup fresh blueberries
  • 2 T. thinly-sliced almonds
  • 2 T. chopped walnuts
  • 2 to 3 dashes of cinnamon
  • Real maple syrup for sweetener (to taste – use a light hand)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Bring water and salt to a boil in medium sauce pan.
  2. Stir in the oats and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  3. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes or until close to desired consistency.
  4. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for about 5 minutes or until it reaches the desired thickness.
  5. Divide the oatmeal into 3 or 4 serving bowls.
  6. Sprinkle with cinnamon and a generous dollop of maple syrup.
  7. Top with the fruit and nuts.

Your nutritious, delicious breakfast is ready in about 10 minutes.

You can substitute almost any type of nuts/seeds and fruits in this recipe. Try pecans, pine nuts, or sunflower seeds instead of almonds and walnuts.  You may prefer raisins, dried cherries or dried cranberries – or use apples and raspberries.

This breakfast is very low in calories and extremely filling without adding excessive sodium or cholesterol to your diet.

Banana or Blueberry Pancakes

Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes

Homemade pancakes are at the top of the favorite list in my family – and are definitely a comfort food for many people. In addition to one of the best-loved breakfast foods, they are wonderful for a quick and easy dinner.   

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 1¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour.
  • 1 cup milk
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 T. real butter (melted and cooled slightly)
  • ½ cup blueberries or 1 ripe banana (chopped)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place all dry ingredients in medium mixing bowl.
  2. Use wire whisk to mix thoroughly, set aside.
  3. In another bowl, beat eggs with ¼ cup milk until light and fluffly.
  4. Pour egg mixture into dry ingredients and stir until blended.
  5. Add 1 cup milk and vanilla – whisk until smooth. (DO NOT overmix)
  6. Batter should be thin.
  7. Stir in the melted butter and add fruit.
  8. Let the batter rest for 5 minutes while preparing the griddle.
  9. Place griddle or heavy frying pan over high heat. (Test – when a few drops of water sprinkled on pan steam and dance around, it is ready.)
  10. Spray with butter-flavored PAM or coat with real butter (my preference).
  11. Immediately pour batter into the pan in ¼ cup increments to form pancakes (Use ½ cup if you prefer larger pancakes.)
  12. Allow the batter to set (bubbly on top); then, flip each one gently.
  13. Serve lightly sprinkled with powdered sugar or real maple syrup.

The warm fruit inside the pancakes makes them more nutritious and extra delicious. Bananas add sweetness to the batter; and blueberries give a nice fruity pop to the taste buds.

Try making extra batter without the fruit to save in the refrigerator for the coming week. When ready to use, thin down with milk, add the fruit and you are ready to cook.

You can also buy packaged batter mix, which makes the process even easier, but read labels carefully and choose a brand that has minimal or no additives.

Traditional Hearty Breakfast

The traditional recipes tend to be some of the best, so if you would like to try a simple farmer’s breakfast, this recipe is as quick, easy and wonderful.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 extra large eggs
  • 4 strips bacon or 2 sausage patties
  • 2 slices 100% whole wheat toast
  • Real butter and favorite jam
  • 1 small apple or orange, sliced (or any fruit of choice)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Slice fruit and set on table.
  2. Place eggs in mixing bowl and whip with a fork until pale yellow (a little milk can be added if you like).
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste, set aside.
  4. Place the bacon or sausage into medium frying pan and cook until bacon is crisp or sausage is done through. Thin sausage slices will cook more quickly.
  5. Remove the bacon or sausage from the pan and place on a paper towel to drain.
  6. Place the meat on a cutting board and chop into small pieces and stir into the eggs.
  7. Drain the grease from the frying pan and return to heat.
  8. Pour egg/meat mixture into the hot pan, stirring frequently, until eggs are done (do not overcook). Remove from the heat.
  9. Serve with sliced fruit, lightly buttered 100% whole wheat toast and favorite jam.

You can also put the egg/meat mixture on the toast (sandwich style) to take with you, if time is short. Don’t forget to grab a piece of fruit, too.

Another alternative is to cook the meat, then – the eggs (over easy, sunny-side up, or scrambled) and serve with the toast and fruit.

Easy, Peasy, Healthy French Toast

This version of French toast is easy to make, good for you, and absolutely yummy – a great way to start the day.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 extra large eggs
  • 2 T. milk
  • Dollop of honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla
  • Dash of salt
  • 2 slices hearty whole-grain bread

DIRECTIONS

  1. Set griddle or frying pan on the stove over medium heat.
  2. Whip all ingredients (except bread) together until thoroughly mixed.
  3. Place one slice bread in the egg mixture and pierce with a fork to help soak up the egg.
  4. Flip it over to allow 2nd side to soak up the egg.
  5. Quickly coat the frying pan with a little real butter (or spray with butter-flavored PAM and place soaked bread into pan.
  6. Immediately repeat this procedure with the 2nd slice of bread and place in the pan.
  7. Cook both slices for ~ 2 minutes on each side or until lightly browned and slightly puffed.
  8. Remove slices from the pan – add a little butter and sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar – or real maple syrup. Sooooo tasty!
  9. Enjoy a side dish of fresh strawberries, blueberries, or half a cantaloupe.

Join us tomorrow for some great smoothie recipes and oatmeal cups – for those days when there is a serious time crunch. 

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Veggie Omelet: Photo Credit: Broccoli & Spinach Omelet 03.08.08 via photopin (license)

To Eat or Not to Eat Breakfast, of Course

Image by "with wind"
Image by “with wind”

When you live a very busy life, it is easy to over-look breakfast – a common practice in America today. Far too many people start their morning with a large cup of coffee, sometimes black and sometimes filled with cream and sugar – or a sweet, caffeinated soda and nothing else. Bad habit!

Breakfast means “break your fast.”  Your body has been resting and has received no nourishment for eight hours and needs fuel replenishment to start the day. When coffee or sugary drinks are all it is given, it cannot possible function effectively. I know you know this – most people do – and yet they do not eat breakfast. Why?

When asked, the answers usually fall into a couple of categories: 1) “I have too much to do in the morning, and not enough time.” Or – “I don’t really need breakfast. Coffee gives me the jump-start I need.” When you see those excuses in writing, they sound quite lame and yet people say such things (or think them) all the time.

Yes, it can be difficult to balance work and family responsibilities and the temptation to save time by not eating breakfast can be easily rationalized. In fact, people shudder at the thought of preparing a healthy breakfast even for themselves, let alone trying to prepare breakfast for an entire family.

My goal today is twofold:

  1. To re-emphasize that breakfast is definitely the most important meal of the day. (Better to skip dinner than breakfast.)
  2. To assure you that it can also be one of the easiest meals of the day to prepare.

Let’s start with the first point.

Most Important Meal of the Day

Many studies show that people who eat breakfast regularly are healthier. Any breakfast at all – a piece of fruit, a bowl of cereal, a banana, a piece of toast, etc., is better than no breakfast.

On the other hand, people who skip breakfast, often to cut calories, tend to weigh more than people who eat breakfast every day. Their strategy backfires on them. Skipping breakfast starves your body. Then, in the late morning it starts screaming, “Feed me.” Since you are most likely at work or school, you will probably look for something (anything) to munch on to quell the hunger pangs. As a rule, those quick grab snacks are empty calories filled with fat, salt and sugar and loaded with calories (which you tried to avoid by not eating breakfast).

This sets up a vicious, unhealthy cycle of starving and eating unhealthy foods that is extremely harmful to your body, especially for those prone to blood sugar issues like diabetes. Eating breakfast not only helps maintain a healthy weight, it helps your body maintain a stable blood-sugar level. Eating breakfast also helps with memory, concentration and productivity.

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health completed several studies on the relationship between children who eat breakfast and children who do well in school. The studies show amazing correlations between a nutritious breakfast and the ability to succeed in difficult cognitive tasks. They also show how easily hunger affects mood and concentration.

Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital completed another study that showed students who ate breakfast actually had higher grades and less disciplinary issues than children who did not eat breakfast.

Other studies show the same type of correlation between adults who do not eat breakfast and those who complain of mood swings, fatigue and irritability, especially during the late morning and early afternoon hours of a workday.

Your Body Needs Fuel

It is impossible to drive a car without fuel in the tank. Why do people expect their bodies to run without fuel? Trying to get through the day without refueling your body in the morning is harmful and foolish.

Breakfast replenishes the body with nutrients that provide fuel to support your activities throughout the day. When you skip breakfast you create a nutritional hole in the day, which means that you cannot regain the vitamins and minerals you lose when you choose to NOT eat breakfast. It affects you in multiple ways – diminished energy, weakened ability to concentrate, and lower productivity; plus it can affect your mood, behavior, and outlook for the entire day.

Breakfast sets up your entire day. It is a small meal that provides huge benefits!

Eat Fruit

Fresh FruitBreakfast is the perfect time to eat fruit, which can be eaten in many forms: whole fruit, fruit salad, fruit smoothie, freshly-squeezed fruit juice, or waffles, pancakes, oatmeal, or yogurt topped with fruit – all of those can be the perfect start to a busy day.

If you have trouble eating enough fruit during the day, breakfast is a good time to make it happen. The nutrients in a fresh orange, apple or banana will stay with you over the course of the day.

Strange as it may seem, eating breakfast can be a money-saver. When you eat breakfast, it is much easier to control eating throughout the day. You don’t struggle with those terrible bouts of hunger that hit mid-morning and you satisfy with snacks from the company vending machine or the corner fast-food establishment. As a result, if you eat breakfast, you spend much less money on unhealthy snack foods during an average work day. Breakfast helps your body and your pocketbook.

Eating breakfast is important for every member of the family from the oldest to the youngest, but it is particularly important and beneficial for children. They will do better in school; they will be less likely to spend money on candy or soda during the school day; and they will be more active and more normal weight than children who do not eat breakfast.

Preparing Breakfast Is Easy

There are so many simple, yummy options for breakfast it is difficult to understand why people avoid it.  Breakfast is my favorite meal because there are so many delicious and nutritious foods and combinations of foods to eat.

Many breakfast foods fall into the category of “comfort foods” and/or favorite foods – everything from waffles to pancakes to omelets, so why not start your day with a favorite food?

Pancakes filled with blueberries, topped with a light sprinkling of powdered sugar or real maple syrup can be a wholesome start to the work week. French toast with raspberries or strawberries, or an omelet filled with onions and peppers topped with fresh salsa can be excellent options for the busy lifestyle. Add a piece or two of bacon or sausage for extra flavor. However, both are high in fat and should be eaten in moderation.

It is easy to pack breakfast with nutrients and ensure that you are getting enough of the important food groups. An omelet with vegetables, 2 slices of bacon, half a cantaloupe, and a piece of whole wheat toast covers all the basics. Such a meal is easy to prepare, fuels your body, and tastes great.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully you now have a better understanding of why breakfast is the most important meal of the day – and how it can make a huge difference in your life.

To sum up – eating breakfast can lighten your mood, increase your concentration, and help you lose weight (and save you money). Breakfast is an enjoyable way to start each morning if you plan ahead, have the proper ingredients on hand, and set aside a little extra time to prepare this amazing meal.

Please join us on Monday; I will be sharing some ideas for healthy breakfasts to get you started. 

Photo Credit (Breakfast): IMG_1655 via photopin (license)

Moderation or Abstinence?

 

McDonalds Big Mac and Fries
Image by Simon Miller

Moderation or abstinence is always a valid question when it comes to foods that are not particularly healthy, such as fast foods. It has been suggested that fast foods should not even be referred to as food – at least not in the nutritional sense.

You may tell yourself that fast foods every once in a while can’t possibly hurt you. But, you are wrong. The fact is they have no nutritional value, they are filled with empty calories and additives – and they are addictive. Would you indulge in heroine occasionally if someone told you that once in a while wouldn’t hurt you . . . of course not! Use the same good judgment when it comes to fast foods.

Because they are addictive, it is almost impossible to eat fast foods in moderation; In other words, the only thing that works is abstinence. If you think you can control the addiction (as most addicts believe about their drug of choice), you will continue to eat large amounts of junk food and suffer the dire consequences for the rest of your “much-shorter-than-necessary” life.

On the opposite end of the spectrum – raw fruits and vegetables can be eaten in abundance – no limits. It is basically impossible to eat too many, except for the popular high-fat fruits we discussed in the previous post: avocadoes, bananas, olives, and coconut, which should be eaten in moderation. But, even eating the high-fat fruits in large amounts is far healthier than stuffing yourself with donuts and potato chips on a regular basis.

It is difficult to over eat high-water content foods because they fill you up so fast. This includes some fruits and vegetables. For example, watermelon and strawberries are about 92 percent water. Other fruits with high water content are grapefruit, cantaloupe, peaches and bananas. High-water content vegetables include lettuce and cucumbers. As a result these foods have a built-in moderation factor.

Moderation is important when eating heavier, higher-calorie foods such as rice, beans, grains and nuts – especially if you are struggling with being overweight.

If you can commit to a healthier diet and start doing a little research, you will find there are many, many combinations of healthy foods that are not only nutritious, but also delicious. When you start feeding your body well and eliminate empty-calorie snacks from your diet, there is a very good chance that you will not miss the bad foods. I know it may take a little time, but the health dividends are well worth it.

Nature offers abundance, not deprivation. So, focus on natural foods as much as possible. Trying changing up your diet – for example, rather than eating a slice of caramel apple pie, slice your favorite apple very thinly and eat it with a yummy dip made from dates, cinnamon and a little ice water – pureed in a high-speed blender. It is a sweet and delicious treat that will quell your cravings and help you forget about the empty-calorie, sugar-fat-salt laden treats you were addicted to.

I know I have used some extreme comparisons and donuts or fast foods are not the equivalent to heroine (but I hope I made my point). You may decide that your health is just fine and you see no problem with having an occasional donut or McDonald’s Big Mac. All I ask is that you recognize that neither of those can be called real food and offer absolutely NO nutritional value whatsoever, and do more harm to your body than good.  Also – define your terms. Indulging in your “drug of choice” occasionally should mean: partaking very small amounts – once or twice a year – possible on your birthday or anniversary – even that carries the risk of your falling back into old habits, as with any addiction.

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Grilled Angel Food Cake with Berries and Whipped Cream – Recipe of the Day

Grilled Angel Food Cake is an absolute life-saver if you suddenly find yourself in need of a tasty dessert that can be put together in minutes and pleases both the eye and the palate.  All you need is an angel food cake, fresh berries, whipping cream, your favorite chocolate bar, and you are ready to go. 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pint fresh strawberries, washed, hulled, and sliced
  • 1 small container fresh blueberries
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
  • 1 angel food cake, (store bought, from a mix, or made from scratch)
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 high-quality dark chocolate bar (optional)
  • Fresh mint sprigs (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Wash, hull, and slice the strawberries – sprinkle very lightly with sugar, stir, and place in the refrigerator.
  2. Wash the blueberries and drain as much water as possible – pat dry with a paper towel if necessary and place in the refrigerator.
  3. In a chilled glass mixing bowl, place the heavy cream, sugar and vanilla extract.
  4. Using chilled beaters in an electric mixer – beat until soft peaks form and place in refrigerator.
  5. Cut angel food cake into equally-sized slices. Do not cut into wedges around the center of the cake as they will not brown evenly under the broiler.
  6. Using a pastry brush, coat both sides of the angel food cake slices with melted butter.
  7. Lay on a metal baking sheet covered with foil and place under broiler.
  8. Toast until golden brown. (Watch carefully because this will occur quickly).
  9. Remove from oven and turn slices to toast second side.
  10. Remove from oven and serve immediately.
  11. Top two slices of toasted angel food cake with homemade whipped cream and fresh berries.
  12. Top with shaved dark chocolate and/or sprigs of fresh mint, if desired.



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