Alcohol Drink Calories: Here’s How to Choose Wisely

alcohol drink caloriesThe festive month of December has arrived. Along with extra holiday calories from cookies, candy, and restaurant fare, there are those often shrugged off alcohol calories you drink and forget about. Those high calorie beverages don’t need to contain alcohol, but many are frequently alcohol based. Without being mindful of those alcohol drink calories while you are humming holiday carols, you might be singing the blues come January 1. Anyone hoping to avoid moving out a belt notch in January would be wise to be mindful of the extra alcohol drink calories being consumed while out socializing. Just because your alcohol and party drinks disappear quickly, doesn’t mean they don’t count. While you may not be mentally counting those alcohol drink calories, your body knows better. And, how about some lower calorie snacks to accompany those alcoholic drinks at the next party?

The good news is that there are some festive drinks that will do less damage to your waistline. Your secret weapon here is to watch the portion size of your holiday beverages and be mindful of the calories contributed to your daily intake. Taking it a step further by tracking all your calories (not just thinking about them), usually ends up really helping to keep the belt notch in one spot. If looking for suggestions on how to decrease alcohol consumption in general, here are a few steps to start you off.

Alcohol drinks that are 125 calories or less

lower calorie alcohol drinks

  • 4 fl. oz. champagne- my favorite at only 65 calories a glass
  • 12 fl. oz. most non-alcoholic beers-70 calories
  • 4 fl. oz. Mimosa-75 calories
  • 12 fl. oz. Michelob Ultra-95 calories
  • 12 fl. oz. Miller Light Beer-96 calories
  • 12 fl. oz. Amstel Light Beer-96 calories
  • 1.5 fl. oz. gin, rum, vodka, whiskey, or tequila-about 97 calories
  • 1.5 fl. oz. brandy-98 calories. Consider drinking on the rocks to give the illusion of a larger serving!
  • 12 fl. oz. Corona Lite Beer-99 calories
  • 12 fl. oz. White Claw hard seltzer-100 calories
  • 12 fl. oz. Coors Light Beer-102 calories
  • 8 fl. oz. Rum and Diet Coke-100 calories
  • 4 fl. oz. Sangria-100 calories
  • 2 fl. oz Martini-120 calories
  • 5 fl. oz. of most wines (red or white)-120 calories
  • 2.25 fl. oz. traditional Martini-124 calories
  • 5 fl. oz. Bloody Mary-125 calories

Alcohol drinks that are over 125 calories

  • 6 fl. oz. Mojito-145 calories
  • 12 fl. oz. Beck’s Dark Pilsner Beer-142 calories
  • ½ cup low-fat eggnog-150 calories
  • 12 fl. oz. regular beer-150 calories
  • 10 fl. oz. Irish coffee-160 calories
  • 1 fl. oz. of most liqueurs-165 calories
  • 4 fl. oz. Margarita-168 calories
  • 8 fl. oz. Rum and Coke-185 calories
  • 7 fl. oz. Gin and tonic-190 calories (diet tonic water can slash the calories)
  • 4 ounces Cosmopolitan-200 calories
  • ½ cup regular eggnog-220 calories
  • 4 fl. oz. Daquiri-225 calories

Splurges that are 300 or more calories

  • 5 fl. oz. Mai Tai-310 calories
  • 6.5 ounces Margarita-330 calories
  • 10 ounces Hurricane-380 calories
  • 6 ounces Amaretto Sour-420 calories
  • 9 fl oz. Pina Colada-490 calories
  • 7 fl. oz. Grasshopper Martini-525 calories
  • 8 fl. oz. White Russian-570 calories
  • 12.5 fl. oz. Mud Slide-595 calories

Tips to lighten up alcoholic beverage calories

alcohol drink caloriesWhenever a diet version of a standard ingredient can be used, the calories of your cocktail will be decreased. Note the regular rum and coke is 185 calories. But, the rum and coke using diet coke slashes the drink to 100 calories. You can also use diet tonic water and diet seven-up when possible. While these tactics may not always be an option at a restaurant or bar, you can improvise at a party hosted at a home. Think more ice, water, maybe even adding some frozen fruit puree to your cocktails to displace some of the alcohol calories.

A favorite “trick” of mine when watching calories at parties was to simply put flavored seltzer water in a pretty wine glass. There’s something very psychologically uplifting to drinking plain water or flavored seltzer water in a nice cocktail glass! And, it’s always a good plan to have your alcohol drink followed by plain water before you opt for another serving of alcohol.

Portions sizes always matter

Just as when selecting food for a healthy diet, portion sizes matter! Note the fluid ounces of each beverage are noted above. If your standard serving is slightly more, you need to account for that increase in size. Multiple servings of some of these high calorie beverages, coupled with typical high fat snack foods often served along with these drinks will most likely blow your calorie intake to the North pole. In addition to selecting your alcoholic beverage for your party, consider setting a limit for the event or party as well. And, if dining out at a restaurant this holiday season, consider some of these smart dining strategies as well.

Take away

If you care about maintaining your weight during the holidays, it’s wise to be thinking about the calories you are drinking. Know the better lower calorie options and try to plan for them. Be aware of serving sizes of alcohol just as you would do for food. Try to figure out how to dilute those alcohol calories with water, ice, or diet versions of ingredients when possible.

There’s an old saying, “ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” so enjoy your party beverages, but think about your choices as you enjoy the holiday spirit this month. Doing so will make for a healthy and easier transition to 2020. Portion control tactics and smart eating strategies in December will yield a lot less work at the gym in January. Cheers!

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Healthy Spinach Dip: A Nice Appetizer With Less Calories

low calorie spinach dip recipe

The merry holidays have arrived, bringing with them plenty of social engagements and delicious food. For many people, delicious often means “full of calories.” However, it doesn’t have to. With a bit of crafty cooking, you can make your favorite holiday recipes tasty, but with fewer calories. A healthy spinach dip made lower in calories is a personal favorite. This skinny version recipe always gets rave reviews. No one ever seems to notice that all the fat has been removed from this healthy and classic Knorr spinach dip recipe!

Great tasting dip for fewer calories

A favorite of many, this dish packs a mean 72 calories in each tablespoon. That may not seem like a lot, but remember most of us don’t stop at a just a tablespoon! Making a few key changes to this recipe can reduce the caloric count to 50 calories per tablespoon. It may not seem like 20 calories is a big deal, but keep in mind that most people probably eat about five tablespoons or more. As a result, at least 100 calories saved! During the holidays, those calories add up quickly.

An appetizer dip with important nutrients

In addition to being reduced in fat and calories, this appetizer offers some significant nutrients. In fact, spinach has a reputation as a superfood. It’s a source of lutein, zeaxanthin and beta carotene, which contribute to eye health. It’s also loaded with antioxidants, and has almost as much as kale. Those antioxidants protect the body’s cells from oxidation which is damaging to the body. Spinach is also a source of minerals such as magnesium, potassium, and calcium. It should be noted, however, that the calcium in spinach is not readily absorbed. This is because spinach has oxalic acid which binds the calcium to prevent absorption. So, while spinach is not a great source of calcium, it’s a great source of other key nutrients. Include it in your diet for beta carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, potassium, and magnesium.

The slimmed down healthy spinach recipe

Conventional Spinach Dip Recipe: 1 Tablespoon serving size = 72 calories

Resized Spinach Dip Recipe: 1 Tablespoon serving size = 50 calories

"Resized" Holiday Spinach Dip

Lower caloried classic spinach dip appetizer
Prep Time10 mins
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Servings: 20

Ingredients

  • 3 green onions
  • 1 10 oz package frozen chopped spinach
  • 1 package KNORR brand vegetable soup
  • 1 cup fat-free mayonnaise
  • 1 container no fat sour cream
  • 1 8 oz can chopped and drained water chestnuts

Instructions

  • Make sure the spinach is thoroughly thawed and drained. I usually thaw it and then place it in a strainer and press on it to get as much moisture out as possible. Next, mix all the ingredients together. Chill for several hours to blend flavors. Stir well. Serve with crackers, cut up vegetables, or cubed bread as pictured.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    NUTRITION INFORMATION: 1 Tbsp. is about 50 calories

This goes nicely into a scooped out round loaf of sourdough bread with the scooped out bread used for dipping. This recipe can also be made several days in advance of your party. So, it’s a great make-ahead appetizer to lessen holiday stress. Just make sure you give it a final stir before placing in a pretty bowl or the scooped out bread.

Substituting the fat-free versions of mayonnaise and sour cream in this recipe will help whittle your waist without compromising the taste! If the fat-free versions are not available at your grocery store or in your part of the country, then use the reduced fat versions. I hope you enjoy my version of this low calorie healthy spinach dip.

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Healthy Thanksgiving Food: Low Calorie and Delicious

healthy Thanksgiving foodThe big turkey day is nearly here and many cooks are already planning their menus for Thanksgiving. Across the country, people will eat dinner with family and friends in homes and restaurants. Many of my clients feel it is difficult to focus on health and wellness at this time of the year. For Thanksgiving gatherings, I tell my clients it is “just one day” of dining. This holiday meal should be viewed as a meal enjoyed with those that matter in your life, a time to be thankful, and a time to reflect. And, with a little planning, most traditional Thanksgiving menu choices can end up being truly healthy Thanksgiving food! Let’s take a look at some typical foods and decide how to make them healthy, lower calorie, and still delicious Thanksgiving menu options.

Healthy Thanksgiving food to serve

Low calorie Thanksgiving pumpkin pie

Pumpkin is loaded with beta-carotene which is the plant derived form of vitamin A. That beta-carotene is loaded with cancer fighting anti-oxidants. Along with a lot of other nutrients, it helps protect our vision, our skin, immunity, and is necessary for reproduction. In children, it plays a critical role in bone development.

With traditional pumpkin pie, the vast majority of the calories are from the crust. Consider offering your guests a slimmed down crust free pumpkin pie option. You can still offer the traditional version in addition to the no crust pie. The no crust pie tastes exactly like the version with a crust except except it has a slightly different texture. The crust-free version has 1/2 cup of Bisquick added to the filling to give it some stability upon slicing since there is no crust. Here’s the slimmed pumpkin pie recipe to try. And, top with aerosol whipped cream to limit calories. That aerosol whipped cream is full of air! Air does not yield any calories.

If you want a second dessert option, try my ice cream roll cake. You can tweak this recipe so many ways. Make it lactose free, gluten free, chocolate, or vanilla. It’s perfect for entertaining because you can prepare it way in advance. It’s only about 200 calories a slice. What’s not to love about stress free entertaining?

Sweet potatoes

sweet potatoes as healthy Thanksgiving foodThis is another beta-carotene superstar. Keep the calories in tow by limiting the brown sugar, butter, nuts, and marshmallows used in traditional recipes. You can try slimming down your own traditional recipe by cutting the high calorie ingredients (sugar, butter, nuts, marshmallows) in half or try a new recipe! Here’s a slimmed down sweet potato recipe that looks like it’s worth a try!

Mashed potatoes

Potatoes sure get a bad and undeserved wrap. It seems everyone is afraid to eat them these days. You know, too many carbs! The problem with that thinking is that potatoes are loaded with potassium! In fact, white potatoes are much higher in potassium than bananas (see how potatoes rank in potassium). Potassium is critical to a healthy diet and most people are not meeting their potassium requirements. There should be no guilt in eating mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving or at any meal for that matter. It’s simple to make healthier lower calorie mashed potatoes by just tweaking your standard recipes. Try cutting your added butter in half. Consider using skim milk, low sodium chicken broth, or fat-free sour cream in your recipe to slash the fat and calories. These recipe alterations will have an amazing impact on the calorie content per serving of your mashed potatoes.

Cranberries are healthy Thanksgiving food

cranberries as healthy Thanksgiving foodCranberries are loaded with cancer fighting plant chemicals, vitamin C, and fiber. No need to limit its use to just cranberry bread and sauce which are both high in sugar. Consider using it in a fruit compote instead. Here’s an interesting recipe that foots the bill for a cranberry compote which is low in calories. It gets its reduced calorie content due to the monk fruit used as the sweetener.

Turkey is healthy Thanksgiving food

Traditional Thanskgiving turkey is always healthy Thanksgiving food

Turkey is full of lean good quality protein. A 4 oz. serving of lean turkey has 200 calories, 36 grams of protein, and only 2 grams of fat. Watch your gravy portions or opt for a low fat or fat-free gravy. Just a word on that stuffing, be sure to roast your turkey separately from the stuffing. Baking stuffing in a separate casserole dish will make it less fatty since the fatty turkey juices will not be in contact with it.

Post Thanksgiving meal strategies

For Thanksgiving foods that are not low calorie, consider boxing them up for guests to take home. You might want to have inexpensive containers ready and waiting for those leftovers. Then you can pack them up immediately and get them refrigerated if need be. Send guests home with any personally high temptation foods if you are trying to manage your weight. Otherwise, you’ll need to rely on willpower to stop yourself form overindulging, and that usually fails!

You should eat your turkey leftovers within five days. Sometimes those leftovers just end up sitting in the refrigerator too long, so consider freezing the meat immediately if you think you’ve had enough turkey for awhile. Or, consider using the leftover turkey scraps to make a family favorite turkey croquette. You can just prep the turkey scraps in a food processor, bag them up, and pull the turkey out when ready to make the croquettes.

leftover turkey scraps made into croquettesTake Away

Enjoy the day and the health benefits of a traditional Turkey day menu lightened up. There is always a way to lighten the calories of any traditional recipe. Top your meal with a nice family walk, and you will be slim and ready for the next round of holidays in December!

Do you think any of my suggestions would work for your Thanksgiving menu planning? Do you have any other suggestions to add to this blog? Please share this post if you found it helpful.

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BBQ: How to Make it Healthy and Pull Off Like a Pro!

Healthy BBQWe are finally in full summer swing. Of course, this time of year is noted for sizzling grilled burgers, brats, and hotdogs. A BBQ can be a great way to entertain and not heat up the house on a hot summer day. It keeps overall calories low because there are no cream sauces or excessive amounts of fats added to the meats. However, the high smoke and heat of grilling has it’s own dietary pitfalls. But, by following some simple steps, we can still pull off a healthy BBQ. According to a new report noted by American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), the goal is to prevent the heat and smoke produced in grilling to affect the food. The heat and smoke of grilling can cause cancer causing compounds to form on the food. By tweaking our grilling habits, it’s still very easy to pull off a healthy BBQ.

According to the AICR, here are the easy steps for pulling off a healthy BBQ

  • Vary your meat selection. Too much red meat (beef, pork, lamb) increases your risk for colorectal cancer. “Too much” is defined as more than 18 oz. per week and this applies to all red meats regardless of cooking method.
  • Always marinate. Cooking any meat on the grill causes the formation of cancer causing compounds. Marinating meat for 30 minutes reduces the formation of these cancer causing compounds. Using marinades with vinegar, lemon juice, and wine along with oils, spices, and herbs seems pretty key to a healthy barbecue.
  • Partially precook. By doing some cooking prep ahead of time, there is less time for cancer causing compounds to form from the smoke.The likelihood of cancer causing compounds forming with grilling decreases as grill time decreases.
  • Food safety reminder: get that partially cooked meat on the grill to start grilling immediately after the precooking. Otherwise, you run the risk of bacteria growing on the raw part of the meat.
  • Use a low flame. Lower heat will reduce cancer causing compounds by reducing the possibility of charring and burning.
  • Get colored foods on the grill. Try some grilled corn, sweet potatoes, or zucchini. Start adding color to your grilled menu with the fruit kabob recipe below.

More tips for pulling off healthy grilling

  • Always wash your hands before handling food. Don’t handle raw meat and then handle something like raw vegetables that will be served uncooked.
  • Wash produce as well. Fruits and vegetables are a source of bacteria. Here are 7 tips for cleaning your produce.
  • You should consider using smaller cuts of white meats. By decreasing your portion of meat while increasing your fruits and vegetables (grilled or as a side), you are automatically providing for healthier barbecue menus. Charred sections should be removed before serving.
  • Invest in a good quality thermometer so that you can check the internal food temperatures of your grilled foods. This is key to keeping your family and guests free of food poisoning. Internal temperatures for properly cooked foods vary, so be sure to check the guidelines.
  • Separate your plates and cutting board to prevent bacteria cross-contamination. Do not reuse utensils, plates, or cutting boards that had raw meat on them.
  • After the food is grilled, do not let it sit out on a hot day for more than 1-hour. If it’s not an excessively hot day, then you have up to 2-hours. It’s never worth eating foods  handled incorrectly, as you could end up with food poisoning. And for some, that means a trip to the ER or worse.

Recipes to help you start your healthy BBQ

healthy bareques should add mango lime salsa

Mango lime salsa on lettuce leaves.

Try grilling some salmon or chicken and top with this mango lime salsa. My client provided the recipe and photo, and noted how delicious it was. She kindly calculated the calorie content as well (she’s a good student too)! Thank you Marie!

Mango Lime Salsa-makes 2 cups; prep time about 30 minutes; 50 calories per 1/2 cup serving

1 small red onion diced small
1/2 red pepper 1/4 inch dice
1 jalapeño (or to taste)
1/3 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 large limes)
2 tsp ground cumin
2 mangos peeled, pitted and cut into 1/4 inch dice
1/4 cup chopped parsley or cilantro
salt & pepper to taste

In medium bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix well. The salsa will keep 2 days in the refrigerator. Serve with baked tortilla chips, or over any grilled fish or chicken. You can also top lettuce leaves with salsa and serve as a side dish.

Next, for a great healthy side and alternative to fatty side dishes such as creamy potato salad, try grilled fruit kabob to give that splash of color to your barbecue meal.

Grilled Fruit Kabobs

1/4 cup melted butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
juice from 1 fresh lime and lime rind
1 tsp. cinnamon

In a small bowl, stir together melted butter, brown sugar, grated lime rind, lime juice, and cinnamon until the sugar is dissolved. Use any fresh fruit cut into one-inch pieces such as pineapple, apples, nectarines, melon, bananas, or large whole strawberries. Thread the fruit alternately onto metal skewers. Brush kabobs with butter mixture and place on barbecue grill. Grill for 6-8 minutes, turning frequently and brushing generously with butter mixture until the fruit starts to brown and is heated through.

Key points for healthy BBQ grilling

Enjoy your smaller servings of white meats more than red. Always marinate your meats and precook them prior to grilling to minimize charring and prevent cancer risk. Grill your meats to the proper temperatures for the best juiciness and thorough cooking to prevent food poisoning. Once grilled meats are cooked, serve hot and then refrigerate within 1-2 hours, depending on how hot the day is.

Make sure you keep all utensils, cutting boards, plates and work surfaces in touch with raw meats separate from other foods. You are trying to avoid food poisoning!

Last, but not least, add as many grilled fruits and vegetables (or raw) to your menu as possible. This will always increase the nutritional quality of any menu.

And, add a beer? Check out some of those health benefits here.

If you enjoyed this post, please share with a friend. I’d like to grow my readership.

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7 Health Benefits of Beer: Happy Dad’s Day!

Beer has health benefits

Enjoy your modest beer consumption. Beer has some health benefits!

I know a lot of great fathers and they ALL enjoy their beer. While everyone knows the downside of too much beer-the “santa claus” physique (known technically as central obesity) or the dreaded hangover, there are actually some nutritional benefits from drinking modest amounts of beer. For men, a “modest” amount of beer would be two or less 12 oz. cans of beer. If there was ever a time to toot beer’s horn, it would seem to be Father’s Day. Cheers to you, Dad.

 

7 health benefits of beer consumption (modest)

  1. It can actually decrease blood pressure if consumed in small amounts.
  2. Contributes B vitamins to the diet because beer is made from hops and yeast, both of which provide various B vitamins.
  3. Beer has a relatively high silicon content. Researchers have noted that dietary silicon intake in men aged 30-87 years of age was correlated with higher bone density.
  4. It is a modest source of selenium (an anti-oxidant), calcium, and magnesium. These nutrients are also important for strong bones.
  5. It can be a source of anti-oxidants. In fact, the darker the beer, the more anti-oxidants!
  6. It can thin the blood, thereby decreasing the potential for blood clotting which could lead to heart attack or stroke.
  7. It may lessen the likelihood of kidney stones, in part due to the high water content of beer.

For those dads with special medical problems that would generally require abstinence from regular beer, there are even non-alcoholic beers and gluten-free beers now widely available so you can imbibe without affecting your health! And for those dads trying to whittle their waist or needing to control their carbohydrate due to diabetes, beers come in a wide range of calories and carbohydrate content, so check the labels to find the beer that is best for you. Here’s a list of 20 low carb and low calorie beers that seem worth trying if you are trying to keep carbs and calories down.

So happy Father’s Day to all you great dads out there. Enjoy your beer and do some healthier grilling while you’re sipping your cold beer!

Nothing beats a cold “brewski” with a grilled meal on a hot summer day. Cheers to you.

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Keep Your Grilled Food Safe at the Plate

grilled fod

Keep your food safe to eat

With Memorial Day around the corner, grills will be fired up. Grilled food is usually considered healthy because it is cooked without fat. For instance, a typical 4-ounce chicken breast cooked on the grill contains about 7 grams of fat, while a 4-ounce serving of fast-food fried chicken contains about 17 grams of fat. To keep your healthy grilled foods safe to eat, food safety precautions should be taken.

Although your waistline is better off with grilled cuisine, the American Institute of Cancer Research (AICR) points out that grilling might increase the risk of cancer. Cancer-causing compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) are produced when meat (eg, fish, beef, and chicken) is cooked at the high temperatures used in grilling and broiling. Other cancer-causing compounds called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are formed when meat fat drips onto hot coals. As food cooks on the grill, flames and smoke help deposit the PAHs onto the food.

Making grilled food safer

There are steps that you can take to lower your risk of these potentially cancer-causing chemicals:

  •  Trim the fat. To minimize the PAHs from forming, trim as much fat as you can from the meat.
  •  Marinate. Some studies suggest that marinating meat before grilling may reduce the formation of HCAs.
  •  Precook. Pop the meat in the microwave to partially cook it before grilling.
  •  Use smaller cuts of meat. Smaller cuts take less time to grill. You can also flip your food often, which can further shorten grilling time.
  •  Remove charred parts. After grilling, cut off any charred parts from the meat.
  •  Eat your fruits and veggies. Add variety to your meals by grilling fruits and veggies instead of meat. Vegetables do not produce HCAs.

Other ways to be a safe grillmaster

  •  Frequently wash your hands and surfaces. This can prevent cross-contamination of bacteria, like E. coli.
  • Use separate plates. Use one cutting board for raw meats and a clean one for other foods in order to reduce bacteria crossover. Be sure to use separate plates, utensils, and platters for raw and cooked foods. For instance, if the raw  steaks are carried out on a platter and tongs are used for placing them on the grill, you must use a new clean platter and tongs for taking the cooked steaks off the grill when they are done.
  •  Keep the temperatures appropriate. Meats should be refrigerated while marinating and up to the point of being cooked. When the grilling starts, be sure the internal temperature of meats is appropriate to kill bacteria . Use a meat thermometer to check proper internal temperatures.
  • Refrigerate leftovers immediately. If left out more than one hour in hot temperatures or 2 hours in cooler temperatures they should be pitched.

A little precaution goes a long way in keeping your grilled food safe at the plate, both on this holiday weekend and all grilling season.  Happy Memorial Day!

Pediatric Cancer Moms: The Most Amazing Moms I Know

Pediatric cancer mom

I joined the pediatric cancer club in 2016 as the grandmother of a child with cancer. Never in my wildest dreams (nightmare) did I think pediatric cancer would become a family tagline. Never. We are all healthy, and while we often had some unique medical concerns, cancer was not one of them. Since 2016, the sheer grit, talent, and perseverance of what is called the “cancer”  mom continues to amaze me. Pediatric cancer moms are a force to be reckoned with!

 “Cancer” moms are resilient and generous

Google “cancer” mom and you get information on mom’s with cancer, not mom’s with children who have cancer. Even google can’t handle that search. Now, if you ever hear an adult cancer survivor talk of their journey, they often say the cancer was a “gift”. I certainly don’t see pediatric cancer as a gift, but it has opened my eyes to the absolute strength of those moms as well as the phenomenal generosity of others.

Can you imagine wrapping up brain cancer treatment of your son and then soon after donning a long red gown to attend a fundraiser to support pediatric cancer patients? This “cancer” mom  pulled this off with such elegance that you would never know her son was just wrapping up treatment. Time after time I see poised, strong, and resilient “cancer” moms moving through life with grace and boulder-like strength.

Helping others with the pediatric cancer challenge

A central theme with cancer moms is to help others going through the same experience. It might be the worst emotional trauma on earth to a parent, and so many of these moms (and dads) only want to help others in any way they can to lessen the pain for others. It is not about themselves, but always other families. Here are some amazing ways these moms have helped other cancer families:

  • There is a local cancer mom that is a photographer. She offers to take photos of the cancer warrior children during the holidays. She reaches out for toy donations and then all these children receive toys along with the precious family photos.This act of generosity is priceless to those dealing with pediatric cancer.
  • There is a Chicago area charity called Cancer Kiss my Cooley (CKMC). The purpose of this organization is to create special moments and lasting memories for families living with pediatric brain tumors. The founders of CKMC lost their son, and their son Carter only wanted “everyone’s dreams to come true.” The organization was named after a phrase that Carter used to say during treatment. His backside was called his “cooley” which is Italian slang for “rear end”. He would sing “cancer kiss my cooley” during treatment and hence the legacy name of this organization. There is a mom (and dad) behind this special organization.
  • There is a mom that runs marathons and she is my daughter. She ran two, and runs her third in October, 2019. These marathons are to raise funds for brain cancer research. And then there are the toy drives so that children receiving brain radiation can have a gift after each treatment. And, other children receive Christmas gifts at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago. Why does her running matter for research? Only 4% of federal government cancer research funding goes to study pediatric cancer and only a small fraction of that is slated for brain cancer research.

A toast to all moms

So, I give a toast to all moms this Mother’s day. But for cancer moms, I will toast you and also thank you for making lemonade from lemons. It really does take a village to fight and support pediatric cancer. On this Mother’s day, consider your blessings if your children are healthy, and support those that are not with a shoulder to lean on or a donation in your community.

To read more or donate:

Cancer Kiss My Cooley

Lurie Children’s Hospital

Happy Mother’s Day to all!

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10 Easter Egg Safety Tips: Keep Your Eggs Safe to Eat

Easter egg safety

Easter egg safety during the holidays

The egg hunt is on! However, if you want to eat those Easter eggs after the Easter hunt, you need to be thinking about Easter egg food safety. Families all over the country will buy, dye, and hunt for eggs in the next few days. If you handle the eggs properly, those colored eggs will be safe to eat in the upcoming week. Add the leftover eggs to a salad, eat as a snack, or a even a quick breakfast.

Nutrients in an egg

A hard boiled egg has only about 80 calories, but is rich in many nutrients such as protein, phytochemicals, and B-complex vitamins. Eggs are also a source of vitamins D, A, and E. If eggs are from chickens fed an omega-3 rich feed, the hatched eggs will also contain omega-3 fatty acids which we need more of in the American diet. Another nutritional perk of eggs hatched in 2019, is they are significantly lower in cholesterol. Today’s eggs have an average of only 180 mg. of cholesterol, down from about 220 mg. cholesterol in years past!

Purchasing and refrigerating your eggs

  • When purchasing your eggs, make sure there are no broken or dirty eggs. The shell keeps the inside of the eggs free of bacteria and a broken shell can allow for bacterial contamination.

  • Be sure to check the date stamped on the carton. Avoid purchasing eggs which are stamped with a “sell by” date close to the purchase date.

  • After purchasing, refrigerate eggs immediately at 40° or less. Avoid putting eggs in the refrigerator door, as temperatures will be inconsistent and may not meet temperature guidelines.

  • For eggs already in your refrigerator, you may safely use them for both coloring and eating even if the sell-by date has already passed. In fact, they can be safely eaten 2-4 weeks past that stamped “sell by” date. If your eggs are typically stored in another container in the refrigerator, and you have no idea how long they have been there, it is best to pitch them and start with fresh eggs for coloring if you plan on eating them.

Prepping eggs for cooking, coloring, eating

  • Consumers should not wash egg shells prior to hard boiling. When the chicken lays an egg it has a protective film coating to protect the inside of the egg. Washing the shell can actually remove that protective film, and hasten the likelihood of bacteria moving into the egg.

  • Cook the eggs thoroughly. Place your eggs in a pan of water and bring to a boil. Just as water boils, remove from the burner and cover with a lid. Let eggs remain in the hot water for 9 minutes for medium eggs and 15 minutes for extra large.

  • After cooked, refrigerate the eggs within a 2-hour period. You can safely eat your leftover Easter eggs for up to 7 days.

  • Use a food safe dye so you can plan on eating your Easter eggs!

  • Do not plan on eating Easter eggs which have been placed on the ground.  This becomes a perfect recipe for making you ill as the bacteria from the ground can enter the cooked egg. Stick with the plastic version for egg hunting in the yard.

  • If you are hiding real Easter eggs, pick clean areas to hide them inside your home. Bacteria lurks there as well.

Take away for Easter egg safety

Check your egg carton for “sell by date” to assure freshness. And, always check the eggs for intact and clean shells. Refrigerate the eggs at the proper temperature before coloring and within a 2-hour period after properly cooking. Hide them in a safe clean location and be sure to eat within 7 days. Enjoy as a breakfast, snack, or salad ingredient.

Do you do anything special with leftover eggs?

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Chocolate Ice Cream Roll Cake: A Versatile Holiday Recipe

chocolate ice cream roll cake

I have been making this sponge chocolate ice cream roll cake for over 4 decades. It has become a favorite holiday recipe and even the in-laws and grand kids ask for it each holiday. It was passed down to me from an Aunt and I hope my own daughters eventually make it to keep it in the family. For now, they will assume it’s my job!

  Here’s what I like about my chocolate ice cream roll cake

  • I love that it can be made in advance of the holiday. Whip it up and put in the freezer.  I’d say it could freeze for months, but it will most likely never last that long.
  • I call this a chameleon recipe because it can be changed so many ways to suit dietary needs or taste buds.  You can use a gluten free flour mix and make it a gluten free recipe. After cutting out most wheat, I have used gluten free baking flour for this recipe and no one can tell the difference. I still get a treat and no one is the wiser. You can also use lactose free ice cream and make it lactose free as well. You can even modify this recipe and make it a vanilla roll or put a different flavor of ice cream in the roll. There’s pretty much something for everyone.
Chocolate Ice Cream Roll Cake (about 10 servings, 
depending on your greediness)

Ingredients:

6 eggs, separate the egg whites into one bowl and the egg yolks
into a second bowl
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 cup granulated sugar
4 Tbsp. cocoa
4 Tbsp. sifted flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
confectioner’s sugar-have at least a cup to spread on foil
and use to wrap up the roll
About 3 cups of ice cream

Get ready to bake the cake

Preheat the oven to 325 ⁰. Grease a 15.5 x 10.5 jelly roll pan with vegetable spray. On top of that, insert a piece of wax paper onto the pan and spray that as well.

Beat the egg whites until stiff and add ½ tsp. cream of tartar. Gradually beat in ½ cup sugar. Set aside.  Beat the egg yolk until thick. Add ½ cup sugar. Mix the cocoa and flour and add to the yolk mixture. Mix and then add the salt and vanilla. Fold the egg yolk mixture gently into the egg white mixture.

Spread in the well greased jelly roll pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes, just until the surface springs back when touched lightly with finger (be sure to avoid over baking as it will crack while rolling up).  Loosen the edges with a knife and then immediately turn upside down on a large sheet of foil that is sprinkled with a generous amount of confectioner’s sugar. At this point, layer your ice cream on top (don’t wait for it to cool). I usually put at least a quarter inch of ice cream across the top, but it can be more. If the sponge cake starts to stick on the foil, just roll some confectioner’s sugar on that as well.

IMG_3106

The warm sponge cake topped with ice cream and ready to roll up.

To make this a vanilla roll, I just replace the 4 Tbsp. cocoa with 2 Tbsp. of flour (so a total of 6 Tbsp. flour) and follow the rest of the recipe.

~200 calories, 8 g fat, 30 g carbohydrate, 5 g protein~ Happy Easter

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Turkey Croquettes: A Great Comfort Food Recipe

turkey croquette recipe

Those turkey scraps that don’t fit nicely on a serving platter for Thanksgiving lend themselves very well to making turkey croquettes. This turkey croquette recipe has been in my family for generations. I would put these croquettes in the “comfort food” category. They are easy to make, use up all your leftover meat scraps, and are a healthy meat entrée. Enjoy the whole traditional bird on Thanksgiving with healthier thanksgiving menu options, then enjoy this great leftover dish later in the week or whenever you feel like eating turkey again.

Getting started with making turkey croquettes

turkey croquettes ready to bake

It’s so easy to let the leftover turkey just linger in the kitchen while hanging out with family and guests. But, it’s really important to get your meat scraps under refrigeration promptly. As soon as possible, gather your turkey scraps off the serving platters and off the the bird itself. Put all the scraps into the refrigerator to avoid getting sick from food borne pathogens. It’s important to get that cooked turkey refrigerated in under 2 hours (more food safety tips here). The scraps can be tossed into freezer bags for immediate freezing. Or, just toss into a food storage container for making this recipe over the next few days. When I am super organized, I’ll take the scraps and put through the food processor right away. Then, I’ll freeze the shredded turkey. This takes one step away from the recipe when I am ready to cook these croquettes.

This turkey croquette recipe calls for about 2 cups of shredded meat. As I mentioned, you can actually take the turkey scraps and put though the food processor immediately. That way, you have one less step when ready to make this gem of a recipe. When ready to make this croquette recipe, the meat mixture will be mixed with a light roux sauce to bind it. It’s then baked in the oven for a healthier alternative to a traditional fried croquette recipe.

shredded turkey for croquettes

leftover turkey put through food processor for croquettes to be made at a later date

Turkey Croquettes

This recipe is absolutely perfect comfort food. It's a great way to use up all your leftover turkey scraps.
Prep Time30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 8
Calories: 200kcal
Cost: pennies after turkey cost

Equipment

  • blender or food processor
  • Oven

Ingredients

  • 2 cups chopped or shredded leftover turkey
  • 1 tsp lemon juice optional
  • 1 tsp chopped parsley optional
  • 4 Tbsp butter for the roux sauce
  • cup flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 dash pepper
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup fine bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 whole egg mix with 1 Tbsp. water or use eggbeaters

Instructions

  • Take leftover turkey scraps and chop or shred finely in a blender or food processor.
  • Add a pinch of salt, pepper, and/or parsley flakes. Add the optional lemon.
  • Mix the ingredients up and place into a bowl.

Roux sauce for the croquette recipe

  • Melt the 4 Tbsp butter in a saucepan.
  • Add in the ⅓ flour and seasonings and blend.
  • Slowly add in the one cup of milk, stirring continuously with a wire whisk until the roux mixture thickens.
  • After the mixture thickens, add part of it into the chopped turkey set aside in the bowl. You want the mixture to be firm enough to shape, so only use part of the roux mixture initially. Add in more if the mixture seems too dry, just keeping in mind you need to mold the mixture.
  • It can be helpful to chill the turkey/roux mixture in order to shape the croquette patties.

Prepping the croquettes for baking

  • Place the ¼ cup butter in a shallow baking dish or bowl and melt. Put the bread crumbs in a shallow bowl or an a plate. Mix the egg and water and place in a bowl.
  • Dip each molded croquette into the bread crumbs, egg, and back into the bread crumbs. Be careful to coat the entire croquette.
  • After the croquettes are coated with the bread crumbs and eggs, dip each one into the melted butter.

Baking

  • Preheat oven to 350°. Place the croquettes on a foil lined pan (I spray with vegetable spray to prevent sticking). Bake for 30 minutes until crisp.
  • If there is any leftover roux, that can be served on top of the turkey croquette. Garnish with a sprig of parsley and enjoy your turkey once again.

Notes

Nutrition Information:
Each croquette: 200 calories, 9 g fat, 15 g protein, 15 g carbohydrate, 360 mg sodium
If you want to decrease the fat and calorie content further, skip rolling the breaded croquette in the melted butter. Turkey scraps can also be frozen to make this at a later date. And, no turkey scraps? This recipe works great with leftover chicken as well.

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