PASS The BUCK-EYE Candy

BUCKEYE CANDY ~ Healthy treat

Healthy ~ Gluten Free and Vegan
My friend surprised me with some great chocolate the other day and I decided to make a favorite confectionery of mine – buckeye candy balls. With only cashews in the pantry,  I thought a variation of the famous buckeye candy would be great using cashews instead of peanuts. A cashew is a tree nut not a ground nut like the peanut.  Although about 2% of the population will have an allergic reaction to peanuts, they may or may not be allergic to other nuts. Most likely “not”!
BUCKEYE STORY
Why “BUCKEYE”?  Buckeye candy  is named after the shiny, dark nuts from the Buckeye Tree – the official state tree for Ohio. The Ohio General Assembly made its declaration in 1952 that “BUCKEYE BALLS” were officially the state’s candy since they  resembled the nut of the state tree of OHIO. Not to be confused with chestnuts. Although they look similar.  You can not eat a buckeye nut because it’s poisonous. But,  you can eat the confectionery version.  You’ll find  buckeye balls at Ohio’s college football games : Ohio State Buckeyes.   The other good news is that chocolate is known to release endorphins, so that may help reduce heart rates during a football game.
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CHOCOLATE COCONUT CASHEW BALLS (aka BUCKEYE’S)
~ Gluten Free ~

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup (8 pieces) Medjool dates, pitted
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla protein powder
  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 2 tsp. sweetener
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate for topping

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Place cashews in a food processor and run on high until smooth, like peanut butter. This can take about 5 minutes.
  2. Add all of the other ingredients and process on high until well combined.
  3. Roll batter into small balls and dip into melted chocolate until almost but not completely covered. To do this, pierce the ball with a tooth pick and dip in the chocolate. Place on parchment and allow to set hard.





DID YOU KNOW? This recipe is free of: Milk, Peanut, Egg, Soy, Gluten, Wheat, Fish, Shellfish and Sesame. Let’s not forget the   six healthy benefits of chocolate. Dark chocolate is also free of the eight most common allergens. FOOD TIP:  You can use sunflower seeds as a substitute for the cashews. Sunflower seeds are very tasty.  Grated fresh ginger is a good substitute for turmeric for adults. Children are sensitive to strong spices.  You can leave out the turmeric for your kids.  Instead of turmeric substitute different flavours or spices. Take a tablespoon of the mixture ( without the turmeric ) and add some flavours ( e.g. coconut, butter extract) or spices (e.g. cinnamon, coriander ) ~  to see if you like it.  Experiment with it.
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VARIATIONS
Since EASTER is upon us, shape your cashew balls like an egg. Dip the egg shape in the chocolate. After cooling,  wrap the egg with coloured foil. METHOD: The egg shape is punctured with a toothpick on one end ~ dipped ~ then –>stick into a piece of potato or styrofoam on the other end to hold up the egg while hardening.   You can always sparsely sprinkle coarse salt on the dipped chocolate for added zip. Another final dip -> into chia seeds (optional). The eyes on the candy “faces” (pictured below) are made by  dipping  3 toothpicks (held together) into white chocolate and applying the drops on the ball. (or use sugar free white tic tacs). Do the same with one tooth pick dipped in dark chocolate for the brown dot inside the eye.  Test on a paper towel to get the right amount.   HALLOWEEN: Pretzel bits make great spider legs for added Halloween fun. You can make your buckeyes fit any season.

Photo courtesy of the purple almond.

Unforgettable Navy Bean Soup

THE MEMORABLE BEAN!
BEANS are the most undervalued food item. Although the bean is a complex carb. like bread and starches, it feels right at home in the veggie group and holds its own in the protein group. The miraculous bean has little or no fat and is cholesterol-free. In fact the bean actually lowers cholesterol and triglyceride levels in your body.  Garlic, rosemary and thyme gives this soup that unmistakable ~unforgettable ~  flavour!

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Café de La Paix, Toronto,ON

The first time I had navy bean soup was at the Colonnade on Bloor Street in Toronto. I was a teenager and I took the subway to the Cumberland Street stop and headed off to the Colonnade. After window shopping and buying a retro 20’s hat with a matching long silk scarf that morning, it was time for lunch at my oasis. I was relieved to get off my feet and settled in to enjoy my bean soup. Good times. The hat shop is gone along with the quaint cafe. But, the memories remain.  I am sharing with you my most favorite, unforgettable memories of a  sumptuous soup. Today, we celebrate the glorious bean!

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NAVY BEAN SOUP Unforgettable

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. Navy beans, dry
  • 1 Onion, Large
  • 1 Red Pepper
  • 5 Stalks Celery
  • 5 Carrots
  • 3 Cloves Garlic
  • 4 tbsp Olive oil (or Avocado oil)
  • 5 cups home-made chicken stock* (or vegetable stock)
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 tsp Rosemary, dried ~ or ~
    (1 Rosemary sprig ( 6-7 inches ), large fresh sprig)
  • 1/2 tsp Thyme, dried or 1 tsp fresh Thyme
  • 1/2 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1/2 Tsp Pepper (fresh ground)
  • 1½ Tsp Fresh Ground Salt (Kosher or sea salt)

Meat Lovers
Optional – add  diced bacon or cooked sausage rounds during or after the cooking process for that meaty flavour.

Organic Rosemary, Garlic and Thyme

* the ratio of stock and water needs to add up to 7 cups. If you don’t have enough stock add more water. Your stock may be very concentrated and rich and you may need to adjust the ratio. Use your good judgement.
Substitution: If you don’t want to use carrots and celery replace them with 4 cups of sliced yellow onions about 3 more onions. It now becomes a Tuscany navy bean soup.
Not enough carrots? If you only have 2 carrots in the frig. add one onion in place of the 3 additional required carrots. The same applies to the celery.navy_beans

Soaking Navy Beans. The water collects carbohydrates from the beans.

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Soak the navy beans for  3 hours. Change the water frequently ~ discards the carbohydrates in the ‘soaking’ water. Carbs make your beans become the “magical fruit”.)
  2. Mince the garlic, dice the onion(s), chop the celery, pepper and carrots.
  3. Sauté the onions, celery, and carrots in olive oil in the pot (dutch oven). After the onions are translucent (about 5 minutes), add the garlic and red pepper and sauté another minute or two.
  4. Add the rinsed navy beans, stock, water, smoked paprika, bay leaf, fresh ground pepper and herbs to the pot.
  5. Bring to a boil (boil for 10 minutes while stirring) then turn down to simmer. Total cooking time 90 minutes.
  6. Taste test to check if the beans are thoroughly cooked. Add salt. Taste again to see if you need more salt. We left the salt to the end because salt makes the beans hard.

Serves 6-8 (good for storing in glass jars & freezing)

ALTERNATE METHODS OF COOKING
For the following two methods, saute the vegetables in a fry pan with olive oil first before adding to the crock pot or pressure cooker.
bean-soup-2SLOW COOKER METHOD: Combine all of the above ingredients into the slow cooker and stir. Set to cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 8 hours.
PRESSURE COOKER: Beans are a perfect match for pressure cooking. Place pressure regulator on vent pipe and cook 30 minutes at 15 pounds pressure.  Use instructions included with your p.c. model. One of my sisters is always using a pressure cooker. (She uses 2 at a time) With her engineer-like mind – it’s a given. Less work and a most efficient method. Freezer friendly for another day!  Their freezer is full of goodies (and don’t last long in the freezer either). Don’t freeze in plastic or freezer bags–use glass jars– and leave a gap of one inch at the top so the jars wont crack.
I have my mason jars ready for this one to enjoy again and again. Make it once serve it thrice ( 3 times ) is my motto!!!  Give a jar to a friend adds happiness to their day.  We are giving a whole new meaning to jar heads!  ◔‿◔  ( aha!)
HAT2FOOD TIP: Common mistakes are boiling or simmering the soup too long or too high. While simmering you should not see any bubbling at all. If you can not obtain a very low simmer then add 1/2 to 1 additional cup of water/stock.  You may want to turn off the heat for 2 minutes after the 10 minutes of boil time. Gas stoves are a favorite with chefs because the heat goes right down quickly when you reduce the flames. The best choice is a pressure cooker. If you have never used one I recommend it. It seals all the moisture inside the P.C.

The Magical Fruit!

The Magical Fruit!

THE HEALTH SMART BEAN
(1) Heart healthy  💖
(2) Nutrients: antioxidants, and vitamins and minerals
(3) Economy: Beans may be the least expensive source of protein
(4) SLOW to digest: keeps you feeling full longer and aids in weight loss
(5) FIBER: 5 to 8 grams of fiber in 3 ounces (100 grams)…prevents constipation.
(6) Reduce cancer risk: 3 cups of beans per week.
(7) Blood sugar balance: Beans digest slowly which helps keep the blood sugar balanced. At the same time reduces fatigue and irritability.
(8) PROTEIN: About 1/2 cup of beans provides 7 grams of protein. The same amount of protein as in 1 ounce of chicken, meat or fish.
BONUS: Beans are inexpensive. Stock up!

BEAN TIPS beans-reduce-gas

superfoodTHE NEW SUPER FOOD
Beans are  on the list of super foods. It does not get a lot of air time. More people are discovering that the lowly, often neglected bean is not only low in cost, it is high in health benefits. Protein:  1 oz chicken=1/2 cup beans.
didyouknow2DID YOU KNOW? Garbanzo beans (chick peas) are the highest in protein of all the beans. It contains Potassium, K and very high in folate. And — is over the scale in energy! —

navyHOW DID NAVY BEANS GET THEIR NAME?
With a long shelf life, navy beans became a staple on U.S. Navy vessels beginning in the mid-1800s; earning them their name that has survived the test of time. The navy bean is the same type of bean you find in tins of baked beans.

EAT BEANS THREE TIMES A WEEK FOR YOUR HEALTH!

SUPER BOWL Super Snacks! Super Tasty!

MEXICAN SHREDDED CHICKEN
This is a perfect snack while watching  SUPER BOWL LI on  Sunday.
I used the spice mix featured in my HOLIDAY GIFT Spice Jars  that Is used in this Mexican shredded chicken recipe from Always Hungry? ..by renowned Harvard endocrinologist Dr. David Ludwig See the full story on Ambition Nutrition.  Dr. Ludwig returned to Toronto where his wife Chef Dawn demonstrated some of the wonderful recipes from his book .  The Mexican chicken dish was a big hit! I have already made it four times because it is so fast andvery’ easy to make! Bonus: kids love it!
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INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 6-8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 1 3/4 pounds)
  • spice mix:
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin (grind you own in a mortar and pestle)
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered red chili i.e. Ancho, chile de arbol or New Mexican
  • Dash of Cayenne pepper ~ or ~ to taste
  • 1 teaspoon salt (use Kosher or sea salt )
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

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INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Mix the spices together in a plastic bag. Add the olive oil and combine. Add the chicken and evenly coat. You can refrigerate this overnight.
  2.  Film the frying pan with 1/16″ oil and set over moderately high heat.  When very hot but not  smoking place the chicken in the pan in one layer without crowding.
  3.  Cover; cook turning regularly especially in the beginning, until the oil and juices from the chicken begin to make a sauce. Add water as needed, 1 tablespoon at a time, to keep the mixture from burning or sticking. Cook until the chicken is cooked throughout, 15 to 20 minutes. Using two forks, shred the chicken in the pan, pulling along the grain to create thin strands. Shredding the chicken disperses more flavour.
  4.  Continue to heat the shredded chicken, stirring frequently, until the liquid and spices have been absorbed and thicken, another 3-5 minutes.

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Total time: 25 to 30 minutes
Makes 6 servings (about 3 cups)
Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Freeze for longer storage.

A VARIETY OF SERVING SUGGESTIONS
Chicken is so tender, juicy and versatile. You can serve it in a myriad of ways.
(1) A filling for tacos
(2) Casseroles, Mexican lasagna
(3) Tortilla or quesadillas (topped with guacamole or sour cream)
(4) Mexican Shredded chicken on pita bread
(5) Chicken salad with tortilla chips, avocado and red peppers
(6) Pizza

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HAT2 FOOD TIP:  After removing the cooked chicken from my pan, I added cream (or  use water)  to the hot pan along with pink peppercorns and started swirling the pan to loosen all the tasty bits in the fry pan.  I poured the cooled mixture  into a glass mason jar.  After a day in the fridge,  I stored the sauce in the freezer.  If you use chicken thighs with the bone in then toss the bones into a pot of water  with leftover vegetables like carrot tops or the core of a cauliflower (save it all ) for a healthy, home-made chicken stock.

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Chicken Stock made from chicken  bones and Pink Peppercorn Sauce from pan drippings.

 

didyouknowDID YOU KNOW?
WHAT GIVES MEAT ITS COLOUR ?
The reddish colour of dark meat comes from the  myoglobin, a hemoprotein (an oxygen-carrying protein) The more myoglobin, the darker the meat and the richer the nutrients. Myoglobin provides muscles with the oxygen they need during exercise or movement. The flightless chicken use their ‘myoglobin’ legs to get around pumping those muscles into a red ‘myogloben’ frenzy.  I bet some of you didn’t know that.

100 g (3.5 ounce) of skinless chicken thigh = 7 g of fat.
100 g (3.5 ounce) of skinless chicken breast = 3.6 g of fat.
100 g (3.5 ounce) of chicken wings = 8 g of fat. A raw chicken wing weighs approximated 3 ounces, or 89 grams

DARK MEAT IS RICHER IN NUTRIENTS THAN WHITE MEAT: CHICKEN THIGHS contain protein, niacin, phosphorous,  Vitamin A, K, D, B6, B12, folic acid, pantothenic acid,  selenium, phosphorus, calcium, zinc (protects immune system) and iron. Niacin helps to build and maintain healthy skin, and aids in the digestion and absorption of food. Vitamin B6 is needed for protein metabolism and amino acid synthesis. Keep in mind that  the darker the meat the more nutrition in the meat.

Blogger Recognition Award

blogger-recognition-award-badgeI can’t not tell you how excited I was to read that Tamara from The Purple Almond nominated me for the blogger recognition award. If you’re not following The Purple Almond yet, then you don’t know what you’re missing. She is one of the most genuine and lovely healthy  ‘foody’ lifestyle bloggers out there. Go check her out! This means so much to me and I feel so blessed that someone recognized all the hard work and time that I’ve been putting into this blog.

My blogging Journey

I would say that I am a pretty creative person and I express my creativity in many different ways . One creative outlet that I hadn’t previously explored is blogging. I’ve been enjoying blogging, reading others blogs, and I can’t wait to see where it will take me. I have a passion for healthy eating. I followed great chefs and enjoy writing about them.  I have discovered great and wonderful blogs from many new fellow blogging friends. I enjoy interacting with my “dear readers”! I love getting new comments and likes on my posts. It’s such a thrill!

Advice for bloggers

curiosityPassion is the key to life and to blogging. Advice for new bloggers is to write about what you have a feverish passion to do. If you enjoy blogging about something you really enjoy, it is not tedious or a chore to do. The other piece of advice is to read and follow other blogs. Your curiosity will lead you to meeting glorious and wonderful people out there, all over the world.

Nominate 15 bloggers.

I nominate all of you beautiful followers and non-followers. Enjoy your Recognition Blogger Award, and let me know if you choose to accept it!

(1) https://thebackyardlemontree.com/
(2) https://www.conorbofin.com/
(3) https://infinitebelly.com/
(4) backroadjournal.wordpress.com
(5) https://kelliesfoodtoglow.com
(6) https://frugalhausfrau.com/
(7) https://cindyknoke.com/
(8) https://ronitpenso.wordpress.com/
(9) https://currylives.wordpress.com/
(10)http://cookazido.com/
(11)https://photofinland.wordpress.com/
(12)https://elsaswholesomelife.wordpress.com/
(13)https://snapshotsincursive.com/
(14)https://fabulousfaresisters.com/
(15)https://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/

Make sure to check these blogs. They are definitely worth the visit. Again thank you so much to Tamara for this amazing honor. Such a great start to the day!curiosity1-copy

Exotic Leftover Turkey

THE NEW COMFORT FOOD
The Christmas Turkey brings to life family gatherings. Such a warm and loving atmosphere of uncles, aunts and good friends. The turkey was enthusiastically embraced as a Christmas tradition and it was considered an “exotic bird”, especially by the upper crust in England during the 16th century. In 1950 turkeys became affordable for the middle class. By making a Thai turkey dish from leftovers may also be considered exotic – for now.
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LET’S EAT…SIMPLE.

leftover_turkey

Turkey Leftovers

I make my leftover Thai turkey every year now. First, I make sure I buy a large enough turkey so I can get about a pound (.46 kilos) of leftover, tasty turkey meat. I have two great meals from one turkey every year. Too tired to cook? Freeze leftover turkey and make this delicious, nutritious meal another day! Make it once and you will enjoy the tantalizing flavours with rich creamy coconut milk. Your family will love it!
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img_4370INGREDIENTS
2 tablespoons avocado oil
1/2 cup chopped shallots
1 large red bell pepper, cut into strips
2 medium carrots, trimmed and shredded
2 teaspoons minced garlic
3 tablespoons easy home-made  or jarred Thai Red Curry Paste
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons palm sugar or light brown sugar
1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk
1 pound left over turkey, cubed or strips
3 tablespoons chopped Thai basil leaves
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Cooked jasmine rice, accompaniment
Sprigs fresh cilantro, garnish
INSTRUCTIONS
1. In a large wok or saute pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat.
2. Add to the pan shallots, saute a few minutes
3. Add to the pan garlic and saute a few more minutes.
4. Add to the pan shallots, bell peppers, and carrots.

Easy Sliced Red Peppers

Easy Sliced Red Peppers

5. Stir-fry until soft (2 to 3 minutes).
6. Add the curry paste and cook, stirring, until fragrant (30 seconds to 1 minute).
7. Stirring, add the fish sauce and sugar, then add the coconut milk and bring to a boil.
8. Simmer until thickened slightly (about 2 minutes).
9. Add the turkey, stirring  (about 5 minutes).
10. Remove from the heat and stir in the basil and cilantro.
Serve over jasmine rice, garnished with cilantro sprigs.
Optional: Add more greens such as leftover peas, spinach, bok choy, celery or kale.

Red Thai Curry Chicken with Jasmine Rice

Red Thai Curry Turkey with Jasmine Rice

In Thailand, POPULAR dishes using red curry paste cooked in coconut milk and are added to meat such as chicken, beef, pork, duck or shrimp are fabulous.

ALTERNATIVE COOKING METHOD
If you are using raw chicken or turkey, you can use a Pressure Cooker to prepare your Thai Red Curry in about 30 minutes
didyouknow
DID YOU KNOW?  Turkey is an excellent source of lean protein and selenium and a good source of vitamin B6.  Selenium is involved in thyroid hormone metabolism, antioxidant defense systems, immune function and DNA repair.  Turkey is also rich in vitamin B3, which helps to control insulin and blood sugar.

HAT2FOOD TIPS: If you don’t have fish sauce handy you can use anchovies. My mum always had fish paste in the frig. She bought it in a squeezable tube and kept it in the door of the frig. She would also keep anchovies in a small glass jar tucked away in the frig. They really come in handy. Hard boiled eggs with anchovies on toasted rye bread was a typical treat in our house.

SPECIAL FESTIVE COLOURS for your Exotic Leftover Turkey. Add green peppers for a MERRY CHRISTMAS and enjoy  the holidays with FESTIVE, ‘HEALTHY’ RED AND GREEN PEPPERS!
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