Thursday, October 30, 2014

More Interesting Cranberry Info and A Guest Recipe From The Cranberry Institute: Cranberry Chicken Salad on Flatbread

Fall is in full swing and one of the best flavors of the season is cranberries.  I was excited to get more info from the Cranberry Institute which I am sharing with you along with their delicious Chicken Salad Recipe which is posted below as well.  Enjoy!!

Tips: Four Tidbits about the Tiny, Tart Cranberry

1.       Cranberries naturally contain the flavonoid proanthocyanidins (PACs). The unique structure of the PACs found in cranberries offer properties that prevent bacteria from sticking to cell walls.
2.       The PACs in cranberries may help prevent harmful bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract, such as E. coli associated with urinary tract infections (UTIs).
3.       MyPlate suggests trying dried fruits, including dried cranberries, as a snack because they are easy-to-carry and store well. Perfectly portioned single-serve packs of dried cranberries are an easy grab-and-go snack!
4.       Cranberries are naturally fat-free, have little sodium and align with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommendations.

Tricks: A Few Favorite Fall Ways to Use Cranberries

Add cranberries, in various forms, to some of your favorite recipes to boost fruit intake.
·         Use cranberry sauce as a spread on turkey sandwiches
·         Turn fresh or frozen cranberries into a cranberry relish
·         Top pancakes or waffles with whole berry cranberry sauce instead of butter or syrup
·         Mix fresh or frozen cranberries into store-bought or homemade applesauce
·         Add dried cranberries to oatmeal for added layers of sweet and tart flavor

Science Bites: News from Cranberry Scientists

RESOURCE REMINDER! Updated USDA-Reviewed Cranberry Health Research Review
The USDA recently reviewed an updated cranberry nutrition and health review published in the Cranberry Health Research Library on

Low-Calorie Cranberry Juice Improves Biomarkers for Individuals with Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is the name of a host of conditions that include insulin resistance, high blood pressure, abdominal fat and dyslipidemia that significantly increase risk for heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. Metabolic syndrome is an important public health issue as it’s estimated that approximately 25% of the U.S. population suffers from it. As a result of the insulin sensitivity and obesity, chronic inflammation is thought to the risk of cardiovascular disease. 

Researchers in Brazil sought to examine the effect of consuming reduced calorie cranberry juice on risk factors and biomarkers of inflammation and oxidation associated with metabolic syndrome. Published in the British Journal of Nutrition researchers randomly assigned 56 subjects with metabolic syndrome into one of two groups: 20 subjects were instructed to drink 24 oz. of a reduced calorie cranberry juice beverage daily for 60 days and the control group maintained their normal diet. The product used in the study was a reduced calorie cranberry juice beverage that provided 23 calories, 69 mg vitamin C and 14 mg folic acid per 8 oz. serving. Total daily phenolics from the 24 oz. of juice equaled 362.5 mg/day. The researchers monitored markers for inflammation, oxidative stress and metabolic dysfunction.

The results found that those drinking reduced calorie cranberry juice beverage had reductions in several markers for inflammation and oxidation. In addition, the cranberry-treatment group had an increase in adiponectin, a hormone that reduces inflammation, may increase fat oxidation and could lower blood sugar. At the same time, there was a decrease in the amino acid homocysteine, which has been correlated with an increased risk for heart disease. Research has shown that low levels of adiponectin and high levels of homocysteine are independent risk factors for heart disease, therefore improvements in these biomarkers by cranberry consumption is remarkable.

Reference: Simão TN, Lozovoy MA, Simão AN, Oliveira SR, Venturini D, Morimoto HK, Miglioranza LH, Dichi I. Reduced-energy cranberry juice increases folic acid and adiponectin and reduces homocysteine and oxidative stress in patients with the metabolic syndrome. Br J Nutr. 2013 Jun 11:1-10. [Epub ahead of print]

Cranberry Juice Improved Heart Health Markers Among Diabetic Men
Individuals with diabetes are at increased risk for cardiovascular disease. To better understand if cranberry juice could help reduce the risk factors for heart disease among individuals with type 2 diabetes, researchers at Tehran University in Tehran, Iran conducted a double-blinded, randomized clinical trial to assess the impact of cranberry juice on biomarkers of heart disease.
The subjects were randomly assigned to drink either 1 cup of cranberry juice or a placebo beverage daily for 12 weeks. Researchers measured biomarkers for cardiovascular disease: paraoxonase-1 (PON-1) activity, apoA-1, apoB, glucose, and Lp(a), before and after the intervention.
Results? The researchers found that among those drinking cranberry juice, there was a significant decrease in serum glucose and apoB (P<0 .01="" a-1="" a="" activity="" and="" apo="" are="" biomarkers="" compared="" disease.="" for="" heart="" improvements="" in="" increase="" initial="" p="" pon-1="" positive="" reflect="" respectively="" results="" serum="" significant="" span="" that="" these="" they="" values.="" with="">
The authors concluded that a cup of cranberry juice daily for 12 weeks reduced serum glucose and resulted in improved biomarkers for heart disease. This study adds to other previously published studies that suggest flavonoids in cranberry juice may play a role in improving biomarkers for health.

Shidfa F, Heydari I, Hajimiresmaiel SJ, Hosseini S, Shidfar S, Amiri F. The effects of cranberry juice on serum glucose, apoB, apoA-I, Lp(a), and Paraoxonase-1 activity in type 2 diabetic male patients. J Res Med Sci. 2012 Apr;17(4):355-60.

Our Favorite Recipe Right Now!

Cranberry Chicken Salad on Flatbread
Makes 8 servings
Portion: ½ cup chicken salad on 1 flatbread roll
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes

1 cup dried cranberries
⅓ cup 100% cranberry juice, unsweetened
½ cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
⅓ cup fat-free poppy seed dressing
8 oz. grilled white chicken meat, diced
1 cup sliced celery
¾ cup thinly sliced scallions
2 cups shredded fresh spinach
8 flatbread rolls, split

1. Place cranberries and cranberry juice in a saucepan and heat slightly. Remove from heat, cool to room temperature. Cranberries will absorb all liquid. Hold.
2. In a bowl, whisk together mayonnaise and dressing.
3. Stir in diced chicken, celery and scallions. Toss well to coat. Stir in reserved cranberries and mix well. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving.
4. To Serve: For each serving, place ¼ cup spinach onto a split flatbread roll and portion ½ cup salad on top of spinach. Replace top and serve.

Nutrition Information Per Serving: Calories 390, Calories from Fat 100, Saturated Fat 2g, Trans Fat 0g, Total Fat 12g, Cholesterol 20mg, Sodium 800mg*, Total Carbohydrate 57g, Sugars 17g, Dietary Fiber 3g, Protein 13g, Vitamin A 20%, Vitamin C 15%, Calcium 10%, Iron 20%

Recipe courtesy of the Cranberry Marketing Committee,


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Recipe ReDux Post # 27 Kicked Up “Cleansing” Lemonade

Every time I have tried turmeric in a dish it never seems to taste right so I just gave up on it and stopped using this spice all together. I was reintroduced to it when I checked out a fancy juice place and tried a citrus blend that had turmeric in it and I actually liked it a lot!  In fact, I decided I wanted to replicate that drink at home but just never got around to it. The Recipe ReDux challenge for October is fittingly titled “Spooky Spices” where we were encouraged to use spices that intimidate us in the kitchen. This challenge was the perfect opportunity to try turmuric and conquer my fear of using it and it worked!!  This fresh, delicious drink is a nice combo of sweet and spicy, plus the turmeric gives it a beautiful golden hue. Not only does turmeric add a nice color, but it has been the focus of a many health related studies which are discovering it has anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and anti-aging benefits too!  I am not one to drink juice too much because I would rather eat whole fruits and veggies, for less calories , less sugar and more fiber. But this drink is a nice way to treat yourself in a reasonably healthy way.  I use the title “cleansing” lightly because I think the jury is still out on juice cleanses and more research in that area needs to be done.  For now, I will just enjoy this from time to time and hope that it is indeed rejuvenating to my body.  So try a sip and check out these other Spooky Spice creations by the talented Recipe Redux group!


2 cups hot filtered water
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
dash of cayenne pepper


Heat the water to just before boiling in a small sauce pan.  Stir in the honey until dissolves.  Sprinkle in the tumeric, ginger and pepper and mix well.  Chill and serve.

Makes 2 cups, two servings

Serving size:1 cup   Calories 70   Protein 0  g Carb 19 g  Fiber 0   g Sugars   17 g Fat  0 g Saturated fat  0 g Sodium 10 mg

Also, please don't forget to vote for the Mediterranean Rice Salad Recipe that my daughter and I entered in a contest to win $30,000 for her school!  Click HERE to see her cooking video and to vote! We need votes everyday until October 29th!!!


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Gabby's Eats: Mediterranean Rice Salad For The Uncle Ben's Beginner's Cooking Contest!!

Gabby and I have been in the kitchen a lot together lately over the past few months having fun creating delicious and healthy dishes. This recipe in particular is very special to us, not only because we developed it as an easy alternative to boring lunchbox food but also because we made a video about it and entered it in the Uncle Ben’s Beginner’s Cooking Contest as well.  We were very excited to find out it was accepted and that we are now in the running to win a Grand Prize which includes 30,000 to go towards improving and expanding her school’s cafeteria! Gabby worked very hard on this recipe and the video too and I am extremely proud of my little kindergartener for trying to get the word out about healthy eating to others. Our recipe includes whole grains, legumes, veggies and "good" fats.  It is high in fiber and low in sodium too, but packed with flavor! We also discovered that Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice is a quick, easy and tasty rice to use in this and other recipes! It's done in the microwave after just 90 seconds and tastes delicious!!

We thank Uncle Ben’s for this opportunity to try their rice and to share our video and yummy recipe too! 

Part of the contest involves voting for the best video so we hope you will support us in recognizing Gabby’s video as a winner! The voting starts this Wed October 15th and lasts through October 29th. Individuals over 18 are encouraged to vote once per 24 hours. Click HERE to get to the link to vote!!


3 cups cooked lentils or beans of your choice (using canned is very convenient)
2 cups cooked brown or white rice (We used Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice- one package works perfectly!)
1 cup finely chopped cucumber
6 tablespoons finely chopped black olives
6 tablespoons finely chopped sundried tomatoes
6 tablespoons reduced fat crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice


Cook the rice and lentils/beans according to package directions, let cool and then add to a large bowl. (If using already cooked canned beans, rinse well in a strainer before adding them.) Throw in the chopped cucumber, olives, sun dried tomatoes, cheese and basil to the bowl too and mix well. In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, olive oil, rice vinegar and lemon and pour over the salad mixture. Stir well until evenly coated with dressing.  Chill if not serving immediately.

Makes 7 cups,  14 servings

Serving size: ½ cup  Calories 110 Protein 5 g Carb 16 g Fiber 4 g Sugars 3 g Fat 2 g Saturated fat 0 g Sodium 180 mg


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Gabby's Eats: Fall Harvest Snack Mix For A Good Cause

This October Gabby's class hosted a fundraiser breakfast cafe outside her school. It is a weekly event that each grade participates in to help support not only the class but the whole school too!  We wanted to come up with a fun treat to share with her friends and raise money for this important cause so we worked on this snack mix together a few weeks before.  Our teamwork paid off and we developed a yummy semi-indulgent recipe that also has some healthy characteristics as well. In addition to raising money we are also fans of saving money, that's why we in this post are also highlighting the site a great site where you can sell unused gift cards to get cash to buy ingredients for yummy recipes like these or even buy discounted gift cards!  They are hosting a Halloween recipe round up and we thought this was a perfect recipe to share!!

While candy corns and a sweeter cereal are involved, also included are dark chocolate, fruit and whole grains which do indeed have some positive health benefits (like vitamins and minerals and they certainly kicked up the fiber content too)! So we'd say this is a pretty decent treat to munch on occasionally :)  

Plus, this is a very easy to make recipe with your family for the Autumn season and even for Halloween party snacks or favors!

So make some at home and check out Gabby working away with Mommy trying the recipe out in late September, and ironically the first week of Fall!! And check out too!!


2 cups frosted mini wheats (or cinnamon chex if on gluten free diet)
2 cups air popped popcorn
1.5 cups pretzels (if on gluten free diet use GF brand such as Glutino)
½ cup dried apple chips, broken (I used the Bare brand)
1/3 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup candy corns
1 t cinnamon
2 teaspoons sugar (optional)


Mix all the above ingredients together in a bowl. 

Store in an airtight container.

Makes seven cups, 7 servings    

Serving size: 1 cup  Calories 210  Protein 3 g Carb 44 g  Fiber 4 g Sugars  23 g Fat 3.5 g Saturated fat 2 g Sodium 115 mg


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