(BPT) - As the weather warms up and you're beginning to think about sunny brunches and breezy dinners on the patio, it may be time to take a fresh approach to your spring entertaining. From Easter and Mother's Day to a number of other spring holidays, who wouldn't want to step up their hosting game?
During a season of celebration, temptations can preoccupy you, but that doesn't mean you have to give in. These tips will help you plan a spring gathering to impress your guests while treating them to better-for-you choices.
Choose dishes that can be prepared ahead of time.
While you may be looking to wow your family and friends with your impressive entertaining abilities, you also want to catch up and spend time with them. After all, isn't that the point of hosting a gathering? Find a main course that can be prepped before your gathering so you'll have more time to laugh and talk with your guests. Make a plan so everything will be ready for your guests to enjoy at the same time.
Reach for home-style-tasting and simple ingredients.
Take pride in each ingredient you use while preparing to entertain. Read labels and be conscious of what you are putting on your table. A brand such as Naturally Fresh(R) offers delicious, home-style-tasting salad dressings and dips with no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.
Make better-for-you substitutions.
Sticking with a better-for-you theme doesn't mean you have to skip dessert. You can find plenty of dessert recipes that substitute ingredients to increase nutrition and lower fat and calorie content. For example, you can substitute applesauce for oil and butter, or coco nibs for chocolate chips. Get creative and your guests will marvel at your fresh approach to cooking and baking.
Opt for fresh foods when possible.
Include various types of fresh fruits and vegetables in your appetizers, main course and side dishes. Fresh foods contain wonderful vitamins and minerals, so why not share some of the benefits with your friends? A veggie tray with Naturally Fresh(R) Classic Ranch Brand Dressing is a classically refreshing hors d'oeuvre to serve at any spring gathering while beautifully displayed watermelon makes a sweet and guilt-free dessert.
Create shared platters.
To avoid loading your guests' plates with huge portions, create platters that everyone can share. While you're setting up, be mindful of the number of people you're hosting compared to the amount of food you prepare. Serve the meal family style and encourage everyone to try a little bit of everything.
Bring a better-for-you mindset to your spring gatherings when you follow these tips. For more recipes and to find Naturally Fresh(R) Brand Dressings in store, visit: naturallyfresh.com/recipes or naturallyfresh.com/find-a-store.
Grilled Ranch Chicken Quesadilla
1/2 cup Naturally Fresh(R) Classic Ranch Dressing
8 - 12 ounces of boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 medium red bell peppers
Olive oil, as needed
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
2 tbsp. green onions, chopped
1 tbsp. cilantro, fresh, chopped
1/4 tsp. cumin, ground
8 (6"- 8" size) flour tortillas
Marinate chicken in ranch dressing, cover and refrigerate for one hour. Grill 4 to 5 minutes on each side, or until no longer pink. Cool slightly; slice thinly.
Brush peppers with olive oil. Grill over high heat, turning frequently, until charred. Remove from grill; peel off skins, remove seeds, and chop coarsely. Combine cooked chicken, chopped roasted peppers, cheeses, green onions, cilantro and cumin in medium bowl; mix well.
Brush one side of tortilla with olive oil; turn over. Spread chicken mixture on one half. Fold other half over filling; press firmly. Grill tortilla over low heat for 4 to 5 minutes on each side; increase heat to medium to crisp. Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling. Cut into wedges and serve.
(BPT) - If you think of oatmeal as part of your average, boring breakfast, it's time to think again. As a morning staple, oatmeal gives you the get-up-and go you need to start the day.
The demand for non-GMO products continues to rise as people become aware of the benefits and desire transparency on the ingredients they consume. In fact, many oat brands now offer non-GMO products. McCann's Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal(R) offers three products - Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal in the 28oz. Tin, Quick & Easy Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal(R) in the 24 oz. Canister, and Quick Cooking Rolled Oats in the 16 oz. Box - that are certified non-GMO.
Whichever oatmeal product you choose for breakfast, there are many unique and delicious ways - beyond your plain, traditional oatmeal - to enjoy the oats. Power up the first meal of your day with any of these ideas:
Baked oatmeal: If you prefer an on-the-go breakfast bar, baked oatmeal is for you. Add in your favorite fruit combination and you'll feel like you're biting into a delicious oatmeal cookie every morning.
Oatmeal breakfast smoothie: Smoothies are the perfect breakfast solution for a busy morning. Add McCann's Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal(R) before you blend to provide a delicious, nutty taste. With no processing or artificial ingredients, these certified non-GMO oats add rich texture and the benefits of 100 percent whole grain.
On-the-go oat bars: Whip up a pan of protein packed oat bars and you'll have a better-for-you breakfast for days. With ingredients like protein powder, peanut butter and coconut oil, it's a quick and easy breakfast that will help fuel you for the day ahead.
Oat flour muffins or pancakes: Did you know you can easily make oat flour at home? Simply grind up oats in a blender or food processor. Use it in place of regular flour for your baked goods and breakfast favorites.
Easy overnight oats: Put your oatmeal together the night before and let the oats soak in a mixture of almond milk, Greek yogurt and fruit. The next morning, the flavors will have deliciously combined to create a creamy on-the-go breakfast, no cooking required.
Oatmeal banana bread: Bananas and oats always create a winning combination of flavors to provide energy for the day. And better yet, adding oats to the recipe keeps your banana bread from getting mushy.
Get more out of your breakfast with any of these delightful breakfast options. For more recipes and ideas, visit mccanns.ie.
Irish Oatmeal Muffins
1 cup McCann's Quick & Easy Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal(R)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 1/2 cup 2 percent milk
1/2 cup honey
1 cup raisins
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup butter, melted
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease the muffin pan or line with paper baking cups.
Lightly toast sunflower seeds for about five minutes. But take care, they burn easily.
Combine the toasted sunflower seeds, the flour, oatmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and raisins in a large mixing bowl and stir them together with a fork. In another bowl, mix the milk, eggs, honey and butter. Then add the combined dry ingredients. Stir with a fork until just blended.
Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin pans, filling each about two-thirds full. Bake for about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.
(Family Features) Americans love their coffee. Millions of people drink at least one cup of coffee per day and many get their caffeine fix with a specialty coffee drink.
Dairy milk is a great complement for any cup of coffee; it’s both a tasty addition and a way to add essential nutrients to your mug. Every type of dairy milk, whether lowfat, fat free or organic, contains nine essential nutrients, including high-quality protein. In fact, milk is the top food source for three of the four nutrients of concern, or the nutrients Americans, including children, are most lacking: calcium, potassium and vitamin D.
If you enjoy a morning cup of coffee, here are a few ways to create gourmet coffee drinks at home.
How to Make a Cafe au Lait
A cafe au lait is simply a strong-brewed coffee drink mixed with steamed milk. The best way to make one is to brew a dark-roast blend in a French press and mix with equal parts steamed milk.
There are a few easy ways to froth milk at home. Use an inexpensive milk frother or try this DIY tip: shake your favorite type of milk in a jar until it froths up. Remove the lid and microwave to desired temperature. Now you’ve got warm milk for your coffee and foam to top it off.
How to Make a Latte
Lattes are two parts milk to one part espresso. Starting your day with a morning latte is a wonderful way to enjoy the buzz of coffee plus milk’s nine essential nutrients, including eight grams of high-quality protein per eight ounces.
How to Make a Cappuccino
Another Italian coffee drink, the cappuccino’s name comes from the Italian word for “hood.” A cappuccino is made with equal parts espresso, steamed milk and foamed milk. A “dry” cappuccino has more foam while a “wet” cappuccino is closer to a latte in consistency.
Whether you prefer a cappuccino, latte or cafe au lait, adding milk to your coffee is a delicious, nutritious complement to your coffee beverage of choice. From espresso to strong brewed coffee – adding dairy milk only adds to the enjoyment. For more tips, tricks and recipes, visit milklife.com.
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder or instant coffee granules
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Pinch of ancho, chipotle or cayenne chile pepper
1 cup fat free milk
In serving mug, stir together espresso, cocoa, sugar, cinnamon and pepper. Stir in 2 tablespoons milk to make a paste.
In saucepan, heat remaining milk until very hot. Pour milk into mug and stir to blend with paste. Serve immediately.
Nutrition information per serving: 120 calories; 0.5 g fat; 0 g saturated fat; 5 mg cholesterol; 9 g protein; 22 g carbohydrates; 1 g fiber; 105 mg sodium; 309 mg calcium (30% of daily value).
(BPT) - Diet fads, new workout regimens, exotic health supplements - every day, people are inundated with headlines about health trends. Out of the clutter and confusion a new, arguably more sensible, health movement is gaining traction: holistic living.
Taking a holistic health approach means looking at your overall wellness from a big picture perspective. That means you take thoughtful steps to better your mental and physical health while doing things that bring you joy.
Wellness expert and culinary nutritionist Katie Cavuto embraces holistic living and believes the best path to health is to look at each person's journey through a broad lens. In honor of Almond Day 2016, she offers her 10 best tips to help anyone get started living healthier by prioritizing mind, body and earth benefits.
1. Savor each bite.
Take time to delight in the eating experience. Doing so helps you feel more satisfied with smaller portions of your favorite foods. Slow down to notice flavors, textures and changes as you chew each morsel.
2. Embrace mindful snacking.
Focusing the mind is nearly impossible when hunger strikes. Almonds are the perfect portable snack to stave off hunger. Forget bland snacking by trying a new flavor of almonds to energize your taste buds.
3. Shift your intentions around food.
Instead of focusing on dieting and will power, focus your energy on creating a nourishing, nutrient-dense plate of whole foods, and find bliss in your intention to care for yourself.
4. Try new nutrient-dense ingredients.
From almond butter to almond milk, almond flour to whole almonds, there are many ways to incorporate almonds into your daily snacks and meals to ensure you're consuming adequate amounts of key nutrients. Get easy ideas for wholesome meals and snacks at www.almonds.com.
5. Snack for heart health.
Scientific evidence suggests, but does not prove, that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, such as almonds, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease. One serving of almonds (28g) has 13g of unsaturated fat and only 1g of saturated fat.
6. Eat with gratitude.
Gratitude practices can bring happiness. The same can be said for creating joyful eating experiences. Shared meals with loved ones can be uplifting and provide a positive boost to any day.
7. Create convenience foods.
Resist unhealthy vending machine temptations by preparing wholesome convenience foods. For example, just one serving of almonds contains 6 grams of protein. Keep servings in your car, gym bag, purse or office so you have a crave-worthy, crunchy snack on hand at all times.
8. Grow something.
Growing your own food is healthy and rewarding. Indoor container gardens are easy to maintain all year. Plus, the presence of plants in the home can improve air quality while reducing stress and anxiety.
9. Preplan breakfast.
Ensure you have time for this essential meal by preparing breakfast foods ahead of time. Make smoothie packets and store them in the freezer, or blend up a smoothie the night before. Add a scoop of almond butter to create a more satisfying meal.
10. Embrace Meatless Monday
Become part of the "Meatless Monday" movement and incorporate plant-based proteins, like almonds into your meals. Plant-based proteins often contain good, unsaturated fats that offer many health benefits.
Try this recipe to kick off your holistic living efforts with a burst of refreshing flavors:
Cucumber Salad with Lemon Almond Dressing
2 tablespoon almond butter
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 cup olive oil
Red pepper flakes (optional)
1-2 tablespoons of water
Salt and pepper
In a blender, combine all of the ingredients for the dressing.
In a bowl, toss the cucumber with ¼ cup of the dressing. Garnish with almonds.
(Family Features) During the cold winter months, a hearty, home-cooked meal is just the thing you need to warm up. After a long day, it can be tough to find time or energy to get dinner on the table – so take advantage of your slow cooker and let it do all of the work for you. A few minutes of morning prep time are all you need for a rich, satisfying dinner that’s ready to serve the moment you walk through the door.
With the right ingredients, you can prepare a flavorful home-cooked meal that the whole family will love in less than 30 minutes. Pre-seasoned in a variety of delicious flavors, like Peppercorn & Garlic or Applewood Smoked Bacon, Smithfield Marinated Fresh Pork is the perfect base for any slow-cooked meal and makes prep time even easier. Whether cubed for a hearty stew or left whole to slice or shred, Marinated Fresh Pork offers endless and easy meal solutions, perfect for any night of the week.
For a fresh twist on a traditional slow-cooker meal, try this Peppery Country Pork Stew. Or for a sweet and spicy option, try Slow-Cooked Pork with Soy and Smashed Sweet Potatoes.
Find more quick and effortless meal solutions at Smithfield.com/RFRF.
Slow-Cooked Pork with Soy and Smashed Sweet Potatoes
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 4 hours
1/4 cup sugar or honey
2 tablespoons regular soy sauce
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup coarsely chopped onion
1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple, undrained
1 Smithfield Original Marinated Fresh Pork Loin Filet
2 tablespoons butter
In small bowl, combine sugar, soy sauce and pepper flakes, cover and set aside.
Coat 5-quart slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray. In slow cooker, combine potatoes and onion. Pour pineapple and its juice over top. Place pork loin filet on top and sprinkle with black pepper.
Cover and cook on high for 4 hours (low: 8 hours).
Remove pork and place on cutting board for 10 minutes.
In slow cooker, add butter to potato mixture. Using potato masher or fork, mash until well blended.
Slice or coarsely shred pork.
Spoon potatoes onto serving platter then top with shredded pork. Stir soy sauce mixture and spoon over pork and potatoes.
Peppery Country Pork Stew
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 8 hours and 15 minutes
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
2 Smithfield Peppercorn & Garlic Marinated Fresh Pork Tenderloins, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/2 pounds carrots, cut into 1 1/2-inch slices
2 medium yellow onions, quartered
2 medium red bell peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons water, divided
2 teaspoons beef bouillon granules
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
salt, to taste
8 ounces dry egg noodles, cooked according to package instructions
In large skillet, heat 1/2 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Working in two batches, brown pork, about 4 minutes each batch, turning occasionally. Add remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil for second batch.
Meanwhile in 5-quart slow cooker, combine carrots, onions, peppers, 1/2 cup water, bouillon granules and thyme. Top with browned pork, cover and cook on high for 4 hours (low: 8 hours).
Combine cornstarch and remaining water until dissolved; stir into pork mixture with peas. Cover and cook on high for 15 minutes to thicken slightly. Add salt, to taste.
Serve pork stew in shallow bowls over egg noodles.
Source: Smithfield Foods
(Family Features) Between blossoming flowers and warmer temperatures, there are plenty of reasons to spend more time outside. Brighten up your spring family gatherings with the sweet flavors of the season. You can prepare a delicious brunch for your family or bring a fun dessert to your next gathering without having to take away any of your time enjoying the outdoors.
Spring is also the perfect time to introduce new twists on classic desserts that will impress your loved ones. Dessert combinations, like a classic cheesecake laced with sweet cherries on a buttery chocolate chip cookie crust or a brunch-perfect cinnamon French toast with your favorite features of an apple fritter, are sure to be the talk of your family’s table.
No matter the occasion, great-tasting Lucky Leaf Premium Fruit Filling and Topping is sure to deliver. With more fruit and many options to choose from, such as apple, cherry, lemon or blueberry, you can add better flavors to your recipes. The premium line contains no high-fructose corn syrup, so you can feel good about whipping up something special for your family.
Overnight Apple Fritter French Toast Casserole
Recipe courtesy of Kate of I Heart Eating
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45-55 minutes
1 package (24 ounces) thick-sliced cinnamon bread, divided
1 can (21 ounces) Lucky Leaf Apple Premium Fruit Filling and Topping
9 large eggs
1 cup fat-free half-and-half
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk
Grease 9-by-9-inch baking dish.
Cube cinnamon bread and add half to prepared baking dish. Add fruit filling over bread. Cover fruit filling with rest of bread cubes.
In bowl, whisk together eggs, half-and-half and cinnamon. Pour evenly over bread.
Cover and chill overnight.
Heat oven to 325 F.
Uncover and bake for 45-55 minutes. If it starts to brown too much, tent aluminum foil over casserole.
Let cool in pan for about 10 minutes.
Whisk together powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon milk, adding more as needed to make pourable glaze. Drizzle glaze over casserole just before serving.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Cherry Cheesecake Pie
Cook time: 67-82 minutes
1 roll (16.5 ounces) refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough
2 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cans (21 ounces each) Lucky Leaf Regular or Premium Cherry Fruit Filling, divided
Heat oven to 350 F.
Press cookie dough evenly into bottom and sides of deep dish (2-inches deep) 9-inch pie plate.
Bake 12 minutes. Cool completely. While crust is cooling, prepare filling.
In large bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. Stir in 1 can of cherry fruit filling. Pour filling into cooled crust.
Bake 55-70 minutes, or until filling is set and golden brown.
Cool. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Top with remaining can of cherry fruit filling.
Source: Lucky Leaf
(BPT) - Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, but it can often be the one that's hardest to fit into busy schedules. Even if you have time for breakfast, you may find yourself trading wholesomeness and quality for speed and convenience. However, having better-for-you breakfasts need not require a lot of time or effort. It can be as simple as making better and smarter choices.
"One of my favorite breakfasts is a bagel with cream cheese, but when I was looking to make healthier choices, I thought this was too indulgent," said New York Times best-selling author and food blogger Andie Mitchell. "In reality, it's about moderation and eating a whole wheat bagel with a natural cream cheese is a guilt-free breakfast option I love."
Here are five wholesome, yet easy breakfast options that can start your day off on the right nutritional foot:
1. Better-for-you bagel and cream cheese
Who doesn't love a good bagel? They're quick, convenient and delicious. They even have their own celebratory day - Feb. 9 is National Bagel Day. If you've been shying away from this traditional favorite thinking you don't need all the carbs of bagels and the additives in most cream cheeses, it's time to rethink your view. A whole grain bagel topped with a better-for-you spread, like Arla cream cheese, is a satisfying and delicious start to the day. Arla's cream cheeses (Original, Light, Herbs & Spices, Peppercorn and Blueberry) are free of artificial flavors, preservatives, thickeners and stabilizers. Visit www.ArlaUSA.com to learn more and to discover unique topping combinations from Blueberry cream cheese with smashed berries to Peppercorn cream cheese with Canadian bacon and cooked egg whites.
2. A better breakfast burrito
Classic breakfast burritos are filling, satisfying and nourishing, but unless you go the frozen route, you may not have the time to whip up a morning burrito. A faster, wholesome option awaits - simply top a whole-grain tortilla with your favorite Arla cream cheese, add fresh-sliced fruit such as kiwi, apple or banana, fold in half and enjoy!
3. Outstanding oatmeal
As breakfast cereals go, oatmeal is a nutritional champ. A 1-cup serving of plain oatmeal has about 150 calories, and it's loaded with nourishing fiber, protein and vitamin A. Add flavor with wholesome toppings like fresh berries, chopped apples, raisins or nuts. Here's even better news - plain instant oatmeal has the same basic nutritional value as the kind you slow-cook yourself, according to the USDA's Nutrient Database. However, be wary of flavored versions that may have a lot of added sugar.
4. Terrific toasts
A slice of toasted white bread slathered in butter isn't sufficient for a good breakfast, but you can take toast to the next level and create a morning meal that's tasty, wholesome and toasted. Start by toasting a slice of whole grain bread. Next spread on some protein - this could be a sugar-free peanut butter, almond butter or better-for-you cream cheese. Top with your favorite fruit or veggies. For example, banana slices go well with peanut butter; mango or kiwi cubes are yummy with light cream cheese; and tomato slices atop Arla's Peppercorn cream cheese make for a great wake-up call!
5. Easier eggs
Everyone knows eggs are a breakfast staple, but who has the time to prepare them in the morning when you're trying to get everyone out the door? You do! The microwave is your morning best friend, from reheating your coffee to whipping up delectable, easy and wholesome egg breakfasts. You can make scrambled eggs in minutes. Just crack an egg into a microwave-safe cup, add a tablespoon of water or milk, a dash of cayenne pepper and some salt, and a teaspoon or two of your favorite veggie finely diced, such as scallions, tomatoes or mushrooms. Top with a generous spoonful of shredded Havarti or Gouda cheese and microwave everything for 45 seconds. Stir and microwave for another 45 seconds until the eggs are set.
Breakfast doesn't have to be time-consuming or a disappointing compromise. A few better-for-you breakfast options can set a healthful, happy tone for the rest of your day.