Tasty Gifts From Home for the Holidays

If it’s truly better to give than to receive, why not give more than gifts from the store this holiday season? Home-baked treats are the perfect way to warm a heart and satisfy a sweet tooth for the people on your “nice” list.

“Take a break from the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping, and spend a pleasant day in your cozy kitchen making home-baked gifts, like little loaves of Chocolate Hazelnut Fruit Bread,” said Martha White® baking expert Linda Carman. “Giving someone a homemade gift is special because it’s a priceless gift of your time.”

Quick and Easy Ways to Enjoy the Season’s Best Produce

<b>Quick and Easy Ways to Enjoy the Season’s Best Produce</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – You’ve read the articles, seen the news stories — you know that cooking from scratch means feeding your family healthier, less expensive meals. But when you’ve just left the office and need to get home so you can drive the kids to soccer practice, opening a few jars, much less turning out a gourmet meal, seems impossible.

Creating quick, healthy meals at home might be easier than you think. The right equipment can certainly speed things up. For example, one blender, the Vitamix 5200, is so powerful that it can liquefy whole fruits and vegetables, including their peels and seeds, in seconds.

Those using the Vitamix 5200 (www.vitamix.com) can make homemade smoothies, sauces, pestos, hummus and soups in minutes, so convenience is no longer an excuse for choosing the drive-thru. And while high-end blenders aren’t inexpensive, they will eventually pay for themselves, as families stop buying jarred tomato sauce and canned soup — even peanut butter and mayonnaise.

As fresh, seasonal produce hits farmer’s markets, families should take advantage of the naturally delicious food available. Try serving a whole-wheat pasta with Pesto Sauce, followed by a healthy Peach Sorbet for dessert. If you don’t have a Vitamix, you can still make the recipes using a blender or food processor.

Pesto Sauce

Makes 1 1/2 cups (enough for one pound of pasta)

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

3 medium garlic cloves

2 cups fresh basil leaves

3 tablespoons pine nuts

salt and pepper, to taste

Place all of the ingredients, except for salt and pepper, into the Vitamix container in the order listed and secure lid. Select Variable 1. Turn on the machine and quickly increase the speed to Variable 7. Blend for 1 minute, using the tamper to press the ingredients into the blades.

Peach Sorbet

Makes three cups

3 fresh peaches, ripe, halved, pitted

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup sugar

4 cups ice cubes

Place all of the ingredients into the Vitamix in the order listed and secure lid. Select Variable 1. Turn the machine on and quickly increase the speed to Variable 10, then to High. Blend for 30 seconds. The sound of the motor will change and four mounds should form. Stop the machine. Do not overmix or melting will occur. Serve immediately.

Make Your Holiday Desserts Better Than Ever

<b>Make Your Holiday Desserts Better Than Ever</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – During this season of festive treats, why not take a holiday from the typical buttered-down desserts? Now you can whip up sweet favorites for your family and guests that are full of rich flavor with less saturated fat.

One way to reduce your saturated fat intake and make your holiday baking better is by using I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!® Cooking & Baking Sticks in your recipes. They taste and bake like butter with 50 percent less saturated fat than butter and zero grams trans fat per serving. 1 Plus, they are made with a blend of soybean and canola oils, so they are an excellent source of omega-3 ALA. 2

You can use I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! Cooking & Baking Sticks in all of your favorite butter recipes. Just swap it for the same amount of butter that your recipe calls for and see how much better your baking can be. Or give this tasty brownie torte a try. You can go to www.bakeittobelieveit.com for this and other delicious recipes.

Fudgy Brownie Torte

16 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes, Cook Time: 25 minutes, Chill Time: 1 hour

1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoon I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! Cooking & Baking Sticks

1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs, slightly beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup heavy or whipping cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray, then line bottom with waxed paper and spray again; set aside.

Melt 1/2 cup I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! Cooking & Baking Sticks, 1 cup chocolate chips and the cocoa in 3-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, then stir in sugar, eggs, vanilla and salt. Stir in flour just until blended. Spread into prepared pan.

Bake 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out almost clean. Cool 15 minutes on wire rack. Remove from pan and cool completely.

Meanwhile, bring cream just to the boiling point in 1-quart saucepan. Remove from heat, then stir in remaining 1/2 cup chocolate chips and 2 teaspoons Cooking & Baking Stick until melted. Let cool to thicken, stirring occasionally.

Place rack with cake on waxed paper, then spread chocolate mixture on cake. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Garnish, if desired, with raspberries.

1 79% vegetable oil spread. Contains 11g fat (3.5g sat. fat, 0g trans fat) per serving.

2 Contains 500mg of omega-3 ALA per serving, which provides 38% of the daily value of ALA (1300 mg).

Yes, You Can Bake It

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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – Even if you’ve never baked before, the rewards of home baking are within your reach. Many recipes for baked goods aren’t at all difficult. Plum-Good Coffee Cake is a prime example. The coffee cake is a good way to add more fruit servings to your diet for breakfast, brunch or a late-night snack and, best of all, it’s easy to make.

For success, start by gathering all the ingredients and equipment. Let the butter sit at room temperature until it’s soft. This makes it easier to beat the butter with the sugar so they take in air and form a fluffy, creamy mixture. Adding cold eggs to the creamed butter and sugar could harden the butter again and make the batter curdle. To prevent this, take the eggs out of the refrigerator 20 to 30 minutes before you use them or put them in a bowl of warm water while you’re assembling the other ingredients.

Low speed on the mixer helps keep the flour mixture from flying in the air. Because overbeating the flour could toughen your cake, beat just until the batter is smooth. Use a rubber scraper or spoon to add half of the fruit by hand. Be gentle to avoid crushing the plums.

In about half an hour from the time you pop the pan into the oven, you’ll have a cake you can proudly serve to family and friends. Nobody has to know how simple it was to bake!

Plum-Good Coffee Cake

1 (9-inch) cake or 8 servings

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter,

softened

2/3 cup sugar

4 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie

spice

1 1/2 cups diced fresh plums

(about 8 oz.)

Confectioners’ sugar,

optional

In small mixing bowl at medium speed, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla until thoroughly blended. Stir together flour, baking powder and spice. Add flour mixture to egg mixture. Beat at low speed until smooth. Fold in 3/4 cup of the plums. Pour into lightly greased 9-inch round cake pan or quiche pan. Top with remaining plums.

Bake in preheated 375 F oven until lightly browned and top springs back when lightly touched with finger, about 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on wire rack. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, if desired. Cut into wedges. Serve warm or cool.

Nutrition information per serving of 1/8 recipe without sugar dusting: 283 calories, 15 g total fat, 137 mg cholesterol, 210 mg sodium, 101 mg potassium, 33 g carbohydrate, 5 g protein and 10% or more of the RDI for vitamin A, riboflavin

For more easy baking recipes, visit aeb.org or home baking.org.

Learn the Correct Way To Control Carb Intake

<b>Learn the Correct Way To Control Carb Intake</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – For Americans who want to control their carbs, learning how to consume “good” carbohydrates in balance with a variety of proteins and “good” fats can be confusing.

To help people understand the science underlying this nutritional approach, “Atkins for Life,” the book that set the gold standard for controlled-carbohydrate lifestyles, provides clear and complete explanations of how carbohydrates, protein and fat function in the body.

This resource, now available in paperback, contains an extensive meal-planning section with 125 recipes for everything from appetizers to desserts, snacks, entrees, soups, salads and sauces, along with 200 meal plans at various levels of carbohydrate intake.

Charts throughout the book provide information on “good” and “bad” carbs; the order in which carb foods should be added back into meals; the Atkins Glycemic Ranking (showing which carbs can be eaten regularly, which occasionally, and which rarely and in small amounts); and how to count carbs in individual foods. It also includes a restaurant guide to help Atkins enthusiasts choose the right foods when dining out.

The following recipe from the Atkins Kitchen takes a traditional dessert and adds a subtle and natural coconut flavor that really shines through in this slightly sweet ice cream. Pair it with sugar-free chocolate syrup mixed with a drizzle of rum for a tropical treat.

COCONUT ICE CREAM

(Makes 8 servings)

6 egg yolks

14 packets sugar substitute

2 cups heavy cream

1 (13.5-ounce) can unsweetened

coconut milk

2 teaspoons coconut extract

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut, lightly toasted

In a medium bowl, whisk yolks and sugar substitute to combine. In a medium pot, bring heavy cream to a simmer over medium-low heat.

Slowly pour 1 cup cream into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Pour yolk mixture back into pot. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat. Stir in coconut milk, coconut and vanilla extracts. Chill 4 hours.

Pour ice cream mix into ice cream maker. Process according to manufacturer’s directions. About 5 minutes before ice cream is finished, add the toasted coconut.

Nutritional information per serving: 6 g carbohydrates, 4.5 g net carbohydrates, 1.5 g fiber, 4 g protein, 32 g fat, 326 calories.

Atkins offers a free newsletter with product updates, low-carb diet tips and recipes. For great recipes, look for “Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution” (Harper Collins) and “Atkins for Life” (St. Martin’s Press). For more information, visit www.atkins.com.