Friday, December 31, 2010

Fruit Leather - Tips and a Recipe


Fruit leathers, also known as fruit rolls, are home made dried food snacks. Fruit leathers are made from pureed fresh produce which has been dried in a food dehydrator and then rolled into healthy snack sized pieces. Fruit leathers are easy to make and will cost less, and be better for you, than sugar laden imitators bought at the store.

Here are some tips to follow when making fruit leather:

Almost any produce will make an excellent roll. In particular, apples, apricots, peaches and nectarines are great fruits to dry. Many fruits can be pureed and combined together.
Citrus fruits, which have a lot of juice, and smaller seedy fruits, like raspberries and blackberries, are best used in combinations with other fruits.
Fruits high in fiber and pectin, such as apples or plums, have great textures when dried.
Use fruits that are in season to obtain the best taste. Fruits that are over ripe, slightly bruised, or otherwise less than perfect are great for roll ups. Dehydrate fruit that will otherwise spoil.
Apples or applesauce are excellent to combine with just about any other fruit
Canned fruits can be used instead of fresh fruit. Make sure any liquids are completely drained before pureeing and dehydrating.

Try this recipe that mixes applesauce and strawberries:


In a bowl combine 1 cup of unsweetened applesauce, 2 cups of strawberries and 1 tablespoon of lemon or lime juice. Puree the strawberries and applesauce mixture. If desired, you can add some sugar and sweeten to taste. You may want to taste the strawberry apple puree before sweetening. Mix together thoroughly.


Line a food dehydrator drying rack with parchment paper or non-stick dehydrator sheets. Pour the strawberry apple puree onto the drying tray and spread until about 1/4 inch thick.
Dry at 130° Fahrenheit for 6 to 8 hours. You may want to flip the leather over half way through the drying process. Dry until no moist spots are visible.

Visit Food Dehydrator to learn how to dehydrate food and make beef jerky and dried fruit. Use our numerous articles and recipes to make great tasting fruit leather.

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Are Cranberries a Low Carb Fruit?


It's a simple enough question, but the answer can be elusive, especially because it depends on what kind of cranberries we're talking about: fresh, juiced or dried.

Fresh Cranberries

Dried Fruit

If we're talking about 100g of ordinary, raw cranberries, the carbohydrate figures according to wikipedia are as follows: dietary fibre = 4.6g; total sugars = 4.04. These figures might confuse some of us however, because as low carb dieters we are advised to subtract dietary fiber from total carbohydrates to calculate "net carbs" which is the figure we really care about (dietary fiber is a carbohydrate, but it is not digested so doesn't contribute to raising blood sugar levels).

As wikipedia lists only total sugars and not total carbohydrates, its necessary to check another reputable source to see if they list total carbs. The calorie counter at gives us the following numbers for 1 cup (95g) of cranberries: dietary fiber = 4.4g; sugars = 3.8g; total carbohydrates = 11.6g. Subtracting the fiber from the total gives us 7.2g net carbs, which is low enough for us to conclude that cranberries are a low carb fruit. So far so good, except that we hardly ever eat cranberries raw, we are more likely to drink their juice or eat them dried.

Cranberry Juice

If we're talking about 95g of cranberry juice, these figures from the National Agricultural Library should be interesting: dietary fiber = 0.1g; sugars = 11.49g; total carbohydrates = 11.59g, giving us net carbs of 11.49g (11.59 - 0.1). In other words, gram for gram, cranberry juice contains 1.5 times as many net carbs as raw cranberries. But how often would we drink just 95g of juice?

A typical cup holds 253g of liquid. Using a cup as our new unit of measurement gives us 7.2g net carbs for raw cranberries and a whopping 30.57g net carbs for cranberry juice! Although fundamentally cranberries are a low carb fruit, when you consider how many cranberries must be used to produce a single glass of juice, and the fact that most of the fiber is removed, its easy to see how concentrated the sugar content would be.

Now if that's not bad enough, most cranberry juice has extra sugar added to it because the pure stuff is simply too sour for most people's tastes. So unless it's a specially processed cranberry juice made with artificial sweetener, you're probably best to avoid cranberry juice on a low carb diet.


Finally, let's consider dried cranberries, popularly known as "craisins". Unfortunately, most commercially available craisins are loaded with sugar for the same reason cranberry juices are - plain dried cranberries are too sour for most people. The exact net carb count for a cup of dried craisins would depend on the brand because each producer has its own production process, but suffice it to say that unless they are artificially sweetened, dried cranberries are not low carb fruit.

If you're lucky enough to get a hold of dried unsweetened cranberries, the net carb count on a gram for gram basis will still be higher than for fresh ones simply because they are smaller, so you can fit more of them into 95g than you can the raw fruit.

So are cranberries a low carb fruit? In theory yes, but in practice, the answer is often no.

Are Cranberries a Low Carb Fruit?

Campbell Smith is an Internet Marketer from New Zealand. He is interested in health and fitness, especially the way different diets affect our minds and bodies.

Low Carb Diet Food < - A new site I am working on:)

National Agricultural Library < - A great resource for calculating the nutritional values of various foods.

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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Let's Eat Outside - Great Kid-Friendly Picnic Ideas


Summer is finally here and with the kids home all day this is the perfect time for a picnic. Pack up some food, cool drinks and a blanket and head for the park, playground or even just the backyard. You can even entertain your little ones with a picnic on the kitchen or living room floor on a rainy day.

Of course you could just fix some PB&J sandwiches, pack a couple of juice boxes and call it a picnic, but there are so many other fun and delicious things you could prepare. Here are a few suggestions to get your creative juices flowing.

A New Twist for PB&J

Pack a few rice cakes, a small jar of peanut butter, some raisins and other dried fruit as well as some apples. When it's time to eat, spread peanut butter on the rice cake and let your child decorate it with the dried and fresh fruit. Raisins become eyes, a slice of apple the mouth and a berry makes a great nose.

Crackers and Cheese

Buy some hard cheese, such as cheddar, slice it (or buy it pre-sliced from the deli), and cut shapes out with small cookie cutters. You can also use cookie cutters on thicker slices of ham, salami or bologna. Serve with an assortment of crackers, and fresh fruit, such as grapes or berries.

Deli Style Sandwiches

Get some sub rolls, a little mayo and mustard (the small packs you get at fast food places work great for a picnic), and a variety of deli style sandwich meat and cheeses. Top it all off with a few leaves of lettuce that you washed at home and brought in a plastic baggie. Let each family member create their own sub with their favorite meats and cheeses. A bag of chips completes the meal.

"Fried Chicken Strips" With Veggies n' Dip

Use some crushed cornflakes to bread chicken breast strips and bake them in the oven until done. You can do this the night before the picnic and refrigerate the chicken strips - they are delicious cold. Cut up some veggies like peppers, celery, cucumber, broccoli and cauliflower and add some baby carrots. Bring a little ranch dressing to use as a dip and your picnic is complete.


Fresh fruit of course always makes for a great portable dessert on a picnic. Some homemade or store-bought cookies are another great option. Bake a batch of brownies, cut them and bag them after they have cooled completely for a chocolaty treat.

Grab a cooler, fix some sandwiches and head out to the park, playground or even the backyard for a picnic. Don't forget lots of water on warm days!

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Make Healthy Fruit Leather Snacks With Fresh Fruit and a Food Dehydrator


Do you, or your children, have problems eating enough healthy snacks? Do you, or your children, eat too many chips, sweets and other processed foods and snacks? It is fairly well known that most people do not eat enough fruit and vegetables. In fact a recent study by the Center for Disease and Control stated that only about 30% of adults and students eat the recommended amount of two to three fruit servings per day.

Eating fruit leathers, or fruit roll ups, is an easy, fun and delicious way to incorporate more fruit into a diet. Fruit leathers are also a great way to use fresh fruit before it spoils. Plus fruit roll ups are shelf stable and can be stored for months. Lastly, they are portable and thus a great snack to pack when traveling or on the go.

Dried Fruit

Making fruit leather with a food dehydrator is easy. Here is a basic guide to quickly and easily turn fresh fruit into fruit leather!

Puree the Fruit: Use a food processor, a blender, a mixer, or lots of good old fashioned elbow grease to puree the fruit. Fruit leather can be made with just about any type or fruit or it can be a combination of different types of fruit. Experiment with various combinations. Just add the fruit in a blender or food processor and mix until smooth. Prepare the Drying Trays: Line the food dehydrator's tray with fruit leather sheets or parchment paper. Fruit leather can be sticky, thus, it is a good idea to line the drying trays. You can use paper clips to secure the parchment paper to the trays to keep it from moving around. Pour and Spread the Puree: Spread the puree evenly to about one quarter inch thick. It is important to achieve a constant thickness as this will prevent the dried fruit leather from tearing. Dehydrate: Most roll ups dry in five to ten hours. Dry the puree until it feels leathery and pliable and contains no visible moisture. Flipping the leather over, halfway through the process, can help achieve a faster and more even drying. Cut into Strips: Cut the roll ups into smaller strips and place each rolled up piece in plastic wrap. Securely Store for Future Snacking - Store the roll ups in an airtight container. Enjoy for the next several months, if they last that long!

Make Healthy Fruit Leather Snacks With Fresh Fruit and a Food Dehydrator

Visit Food Dehydrator to learn how to dehydrate food and make beef jerky and dried fruit. Use our content and calculators to find the best dehydrator and the benefits of food dehydrators and dried food.

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Grape Growing Information - Overview


Grapes offer many different uses, and they are also the basis to making wine. Out of all the grapes in the world, 71% of them are used to make wine, 27% is used as fresh fruit and the other 2% is used to make dried fruit.

Grapes aren't the only fruit that is used in wine-making, but grapes are the ideal fruit when it comes to making wine. They contain everything needed to make wine and have the right properties needed as well. These include fermentable sugar, flavors that are strong, and the skin's colors. Grapes can also deliver the aroma and flavor. Vitis labrusca are the grapes used to make grape juices, which are a species of grapes that are natives to the Americas. This is because the skin on these grapes is loose and it can be easily taken off the grape. Another species of grapes is known as the Vitis vinifera, and these are the grapes that are native to both Central Asian and Europe. It's planted just about everywhere, and these types of grapes have skin that is a bit tighter and can also be used for wine production. This fruit has a high nutritional level and they are also rich in protein, carbohydrates, fats that are healthy, and they are cholesterol free.

There have been many people who have a high success rate of growing vines; however they are not as big as vines that are productive. Some people even have the ability to make their own wine. Tending to a small vineyard can take some time; however keeping them healthy requires minimal time. For people who grow smaller vineyards, they begin by finding a spot in their yard that contains the ideal conditions to help ensure healthy vines and grapes.

You need to have an area of your yard that has a good amount of sunlight and also have good drainage. You can determine this after a heavy rainfall. You should examine the area to see if there is standing water or not. If there is standing water, this is a sure way to tell if it's a good area or not. Areas with standing water are not ideal for growing grapes. You may want to consider planting it on a slope as this gives adequate drainage to your vineyard. Slopes can also give your vineyard proper exposure to either hot or cold temperatures and all depends on the orientation. For example, in areas that are cooler, such as the Northern Hemisphere, the vines can benefit if they are planted on slopes as they get exposed to heat and sunlight.

Daily care is needed to upkeep a vineyard. You should make sure that your vineyard is easily accessible in order to allow pruning, pest control, and weeding. Also keep all the tools and water for your vineyards accessible.

Once you have determined exactly where you are going to place your vineyard, the soil and trellis will need to be prepared. Grapevines are so large that they have a hard time sustaining all of the weight of grape clusters that grow. Grapevines can be seen growing on poles as well as fences in the wild. Grapes are perennial, meaning that your first crop won't be able to be harvested for about 3 years. This is why it's important to make sure your trellis is sturdy enough.

After you have harvested your first crop, you can then move on to making your own wine. One of the great things about growing your own grapes is that the area and soil they are grown in can make the wine you make a truly unique taste of your own.

Want to learn more about grape growing guide?

Visit my site for more information and helpful tips on how to grow a successful vineyard at home. - Sebastien Hebert is the owner of Growing Grapes Center.

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Vitamins Can Aid in Weight Loss


So you want to lose weight and you have been doing everything to get rid of all that unwanted fat. You have tried everything from fad diets to buying all those gadgets you see on the TV. But did you ever consider buying any diet drug to lose those extra kilos?

Burning that unwanted fat with an exercise program or tasteless food does not sound very exciting. Are you aware that there are vitamins that can help in weight loss? The use of some drugs and supplements can decrease appetite, block fat absorption, or reduce stomach volume.

Dried Fruit

We all know that vitamins are vital for the proper functioning of our body and it can be easily consumed from the food we eat or dietary supplements. No one can sustain without vitamins. There are vitamins that help natural weight loss. They are not only natural but non-addictive too. Ingredients that have been used for centuries like Green Tea and Cinnamon are used to boost metabolism and curb sugar cravings that aids in weight loss.

Vitamin B2, B3, B5, B6, vitamin B complex and vitamin C help to convert carbohydrates into glucose, and they are burned to produce energy for the body. If you keep this in mind and consume foods that contain these vitamins you will certainly benefit.

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

Vitamin B2 is a vital for the normal functioning of the thyroid and metabolism. Including food such as milk, liver and kidney, almonds, hard cheese, eggs, wheat germ, leafy green vegetables, and marmite can boost the metabolic rate of your body.

Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

Vitamin B3 is also necessary for the proper functioning of the thyroid hormones. Eat plenty of wheat bran, liver, tuna, turkey, chicken, meat, eggs, mackerel, salmon, oats, barley, wheat flakes, cheese, dried fruit, brown rice to keep hormone production normal.

Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)

Vitamin B5 improves our capacity to utilize fat and also plays an important role in energy production and assists adrenal function. Vitamin B5 is present in liver and kidney, meat, poultry, nuts, wheatflakes, wheat bran, wheatgerm, eggs, molasses, oats, barley, beans, wholegrain bread, green vegetables.

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)

Vitamin B6 regulates the production of thyroid hormone and metabolism. Good food sources of Vitamin B6, brewer's yeast, wheat bran, wheatgerm, oats, sardines, mackerel, poultry, beef, avocado, bananas, brown rice, cabbage, dried fruit, molasses, eggs.


Efficient fat metabolism can be achieved with 'Choline' which is not a real vitamin as it is made in the liver. Choline deficiency can result fat to be trapped in the liver. Include lecithin, beef liver, beef heart, egg yolks, wheatgerm, cauliflower, cucumber, peanuts in your diet.


Inositol, also a member of the vitamin B complex family is manufactured inside the body. It combines with choline in the body to help in fat metabolism. Good sources of inositol include: lecithin, beef heart, beef liver, wheatgerm, soy, eggs, citrus fruits, wholegrains, nuts.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C which is found in the blackcurrants, broccoli, green peppers, kiwi fruits, Brussels Sprouts, lemons, oranges, strawberries, cabbage is very good for proper conversion of glucose to energy in the cells. But the best thing to do is to consult your doctor or your dietician to confirm the amount of intake of these vitamins.

Vitamins Can Aid in Weight Loss

There are vitamins that help natural weight loss. They are not only natural but non-addictive too. Vitamins to aid in weight loss can naturally boost your metabolism.

For supplements and vitamins that promote optimal health, visit

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Dehydrated Bananas: 4 Easy Steps To Make Your Own Dehydrated Bananas


Dehydrated bananas are available in any supermarket in the country. Many people like them because of their sweet flavor and delightful texture. But if more people knew how the manufacturers of commercially dehydrated bananas come up with their product, the popularity of this dried fruit would decrease dramatically.

Many people are already very conscious of their health these days, and when they learn how dehydrated bananas are made, they would probably be shocked. This is the usual procedure for making commercially dried bananas: first, they are deep-fried in coconut oil, then they are dipped in sugar water.

This is hardly the most nutritious way of making dehydrated bananas. That is why health-conscious people who know of this process have tried making dehydrated bananas in their own kitchens.

They dry up the bananas by subjecting them to 135 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15 hours. This works well in drying up the bananas, but it also dries up the nutrients of the fruit and leaves it quite tasteless.

If you have tried making dehydrated bananas and have constantly failed, we now have the answer for you. Just follow these easy steps and you will have your own dehydrated bananas that taste just as good as the commercial version, but a million times more nutritious.

1. Soak your bananas for 5 minutes in a bowl of fresh lemon juice. If you don't have lemon juice, you can use unsweetened juice.

2. Slice up the bananas into equally-sized thin pieces. Place the slices on a mesh sheet to let some of the liquid drip off.

3. Slow down the dehydration process. Instead of 15 hours, do it for 18 hours at 125 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not heat them until they are crunchy. Turn off the heat when the pieces are pliable.

4. Let them cool down...and start eating.

For an even more distinct flavor, you can try sprinkling your bananas with some cinnamon or coconut before dehydrating. There you go! You now have created your own home-made dehydrated bananas that are both delicious and very nutritious.

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Specialty Nut Snacks - Your Top Five Healthiest Choices


A quick glance in the snack food aisle of your local grocer or specialty store reveals dozens of specialty nut snacks. But are they a good nutritional choice? Here are five of our top healthiest specialty nut snack choices. Before we begin, let's talk briefly about the health benefits of nuts. In their natural state or lightly roasted, nuts are one of the most healthy snacks around.

Almonds, macadamias, walnuts, and filberts are among the best health conscious choices. They are high in fiber and protein, so they are an excellent after workout snack. Further, they contain potassium, magnesium, vitamin E, and many essential oils. Nuts are particularly helpful for heart health and are known to promote better circulation and blood flow.

Dried Fruit

With that said, here are our five healthy specialty nut snack choices:

Honey Glazed Mixed Nuts: This is a mix of almonds, cashews, filberts, and pecans. They are glazed with natural honey, which itself is one of nature's healthiest sweeteners. The mix is certified kosher too.

Hawaiian Fruit And Nut Mix: A taste of the tropics, this snack is a combination of several dried fruits along with filberts and macadamia nuts. It is exceptionally low in fat, carbohydrates, sodium, and contains no cholesterol.

High Energy Mix: A perfect choice during a hike or bike ride, the high energy mix contains dried papaya, bananas, raisins, and nuts. It is high in protein and also certified kosher.

Mixed Nuts Lightly Salted: Did you know that lightly salted mixed nuts are highly nutritious? We've discussed the health benefits of nuts, but the specific benefits of Brazil nuts should be noted. They are loaded with calcium, zinc, iron, and selenium, a natural anti oxidant known for fighting cancer.

Soy Nut Healthy Combo: A delicious mix of soy beans, cranberries, almonds, cherries, and more. It is a great high fiber, low sodium, low fat snack that leads to higher energy levels. Soy nuts are a very healthy choice by themselves. They are extremely high in protein with a fat content near zero.


If you're looking for a healthy, low fat, low sodium snack, try any of these specialty nut mixes. They aren't expensive, usually running anywhere from five to eight dollars. The natural healthy qualities of nuts mixed with other ingredients like dried fruit makes for a satisfying taste treat. And isn't it nice to enjoy a guilt free snack that tastes great?

Specialty Nut Snacks - Your Top Five Healthiest Choices

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Monday, December 27, 2010

What to Eat to Get the Most Out of Your Exercise, and When to Eat It!


Hello fitness peeps,

This week a guide to what and when to eat to exercise most efficiently.

What to eat to get the most out of your exercise, and when to eat it!


o Wholegrain Sandwich/bagel/roll/wrap filled with skinless chicken, fish, salad or peanut butter.

o Jacket potato with beans, tuna, coleslaw or chicken.

o Pasta with tomato sauce (wholegrain spaghetti is good).

o Brown or wild Rice with chicken, fish or vegetables.

o Wholegrain cereal with skimmed or Soya milk.

o Rice/oat cakes with marmite or cucumber.



o Fresh fruit. BANANAS.

o Dried organic apricots or sultanas. (Watch out! Some dried fruit contains sulphur dioxide a preservative linked with bowel cancers, avoid by reading the packet or choosing organic).

o Smoothie.

o Yoghurt.

o Dilute fruit juice.

o Fruit loaf or raisin bread.


To help your body recover from the workout and repair muscle and increase bone density you need to treat it well after exercising. This will ensure that next time you work out you will be able to work to your full potential and so improve your health and fitness, and lower body fat.

1. Drink water regularly.

2. Replace your carbohydrates e.g. Snack on rice cakes or have a pasta salad for lunch or tea.

3. Eat some protein eg oily fish. Add some salmon or chicken to that pasta salad.

4. Stock up on anti-oxidants. Eat as many different coloured fruit and vegetables as possible, have a fruit salad or a mango smoothie. Blueberries are a high scoring antioxidant food, as are all berries, and prunes. Spinach, broccoli, peppers and beetroot are high-scoring vegetables.

If you want to get fitter or you are exercising for weight loss you must eat the right things. You cannot burn the fat or exercise to your full potential if you haven't eaten balanced meals incorporating carbohydrate, protein, fruit and vegetables and small amounts of good fats (e.g. Oily fish, pumpkin seeds, olive oil, Flax (linseed oil), avocados). Eating enough healthy carbohydrates will allow you to exercise hard enough to improve fitness and burn fat; it may also give you the oomph that you need to get to the class! Missing a meal before you exercise will leave you flat and unable to keep up. Your body will not burn fat and may turn to burning hard-earned muscle. If you are constantly on the run, keep water, bananas and dried fruit and nuts in a bag or in the car and these can be used to re-fuel.

If you are an early morning exerciser and go out for an early run, class or exercise session, then you may not have time to eat before you leave. To combat this problem, eat an evening meal which contains complex carbohydrates such as bran, oats, brown rice, boiled potatoes, and steamed vegetables. This should help in the morning. You may also benefit from having a glass of dilute fresh fruit juice before you leave.

Keep your eyes peeled for trans-fatty acids by looking on food labels. They may be marked as shortening, hydrogenated oil/fat, partly hydrogenated oil/fat. These have no nutritional value and have been linked with heart disease, diabetes, lowered immune defence, lowered amounts of 'cream' in breast feeding mothers, raised 'bad' cholesterol and lowered 'good' cholesterol, they can stop the good work of omega oils which are essential to our health, and they do lots of other nasty things. The US Institute of Medicine suggests that we aim to remove them from our diet altogether.

I hope that this is of interest to you as part of your health and fitness plan- Vikki.

Do you have any friends and family who could benefit from getting fitter and feeling better? If you do, then treat them to free copy of this newsletter, forward it to them, and get them to e-mail me with a request. E-mail subject: newsletter request.

Vikki Scovell BA(hons) PG DIP is a fully qualified Personal Trainer and Fitness Coach. She is a qualified Nutrition Adviser and runs successful Community Exercise classes. Vikki is a consultant in Healthy Eating and Exercise initiatives to schools in the independent sector and publishes School and General Healthy Living newsletters.

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Be It Sweet, Savory, Spicy, Or Smoky - Flavored Teas Satisfy No Matter What Your Palate Preference


When Chinese emperor, scholar, and herbalist, Shen Nung, first discovered tea in 2737 B.C. he immediately recognized it as healthy, and for centuries tea was drunk mainly as a tonic or medicinal brew.

But by the time of the Han Dynasty (AD 206-220) tea was already being flavored with herbs, spices, and dried fruit such as ginger, mint, orange peel, salt, and onions. These early additions led to the creation of the flavored teas we enjoy today, with literally thousands of choices available.

Dried Fruit

Any type of tea - green, black, white, oolong, or pu-erh can be used as the base for flavored tea. Dried fruit, herbs and spices, flower petals, pollen heads, as well as essential oils and flavor granules are blended with the tea at the end of the manufacturing process to ensure an even, lasting flavor and aroma.

Essential oils are usually added to loose tea blends, and flavor granules are usually added to tea bag blends.

Flowers have always been a favorite tea flavoring of the Chinese. One of the most popular floral flavored teas is Jasmine, made by layering tea with fresh jasmine flowers, allowing the sweet scent to permeate the tea leaves.

Rose petal is another deliciously flavored tea, with the sweet, delicate floral scent of pink roses. Rose Congou is made from carefully unbroken black tea leaves and dried pink rosebuds. Other popular flowers used as flavorings are orchids, violets, osmanthus, and marigolds, just to name a few.

Herbs and spices also make popular tea flavorings. The popular Indian Marsala Chai tea is made with a base of black tea and flavored with pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and sugar. The tea concoction is boiled and drunk with plenty of milk and sugar, and served in many of India's upscale restaurants.

Marsala chai is also brewed up in brass kettles and pots on street corners by young boys called "chai wallahs." It is sold to passers-by in little pottery cups that are discarded after use.

Ginseng, mint, rosehips, hibiscus, and chamomile are a few of the herbs used as flavorings in tea. One popular example is China Gunpowder green tea, which usually has mint essential oil, and pieces of dried mint added.

Citrus fruits are popular flavorings, especially lemon, often used to flavor cold or iced tea drinks, but also tasty in hot tea. Lime and orange are also often used. One of the best known citrus flavored teas is Earl Grey, made by blending green, white, black, or oolong tea with essential oil of bergamot, a Chinese citrus fruit similar to an orange.

Rock fruits - apricot, peach, cherry, make delicious flavored teas, as do all types of berries. Strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, cranberry are all very popular flavorings.

Some teas get their flavor by being smoked. Lapsang Souchong is made from a base of black tea before being taken to special smoking sheds. There it receives a long, hard smoke over pine and cypress wood fires, imbuing the tea with a rich smoky flavor enjoyed by millions worldwide.

The vast spectrum of available tea flavors is limited only by the imagination. One traditional favorite flavored tea from China's Yunnan Province is Ba Bao Cha or Eight Treasures Tea. Raisins, walnuts, dried wolfberries, sesame seeds, longan, dates, and rock sugar are combined with a base of green or jasmine tea to create a unique flavor profile.

There are even chocolate and caramel flavored teas perfect for after dinner in place of high calorie desserts. These teas may taste deceptively sweet and rich, but they are really a healthy, low-calorie, guilt free alternative, satisfying even the worst sweet tooth cravings.

So, whatever flavors are your favorites, you can bet there is a flavored tea just waiting to satisfy your cravings.

Be It Sweet, Savory, Spicy, Or Smoky - Flavored Teas Satisfy No Matter What Your Palate Preference

Darlene Freiberg is a freelance copywriter, author, and web publisher, with an avid interest in everything TEA. Come uncover and explore the many amazing facts about tea by visiting:

For more information and to learn more about flavored teas visit:

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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Top Muscle Building Foods To Take Your Results To The Next Level


As you go about your muscle building diet, one thing that you must make absolutely sure you're doing is filling your meals with foods that are going to support proper muscle growth. Many people will put in the time and effort in the gym but then overlook the critical factor of making sure that they are getting their diet spot on.

The problem with this is that diet plays a huge role in the entire process of growing more lean mass so if you aren't eating the top muscle building foods to make this happen, you're going to be lagging in process.

Since you can't build something out of nothing, making sure your nutrition is on the mark is possibly one of the most important things that can be done for success.

Let's have a look at the top muscle building foods that you should consider.

Cottage Cheese

First up on the list of top muscle building foods we need a good source of casein protein. Casein protein is great because it's going to digest so slowly in the body, therefore you can get a steady stream of amino acids going into the muscle tissues at all times.

Cottage cheese can't be beat for casein protein. It's low in fat and will also supply you with a good dose of calcium as well, which is important for ensuring proper muscle contractions.

Egg Whites

Second on the list of top muscle building foods are egg whites. Egg whites are great for in the morning since they're fast to prepare and can be eaten in so many different ways. Egg whites are 100% pure protein as well so for anyone struggling to meet their needs, it will definitely be an option to consider.

Dry Oats

Moving along, dry oats are the next food that you should be focused on with your muscle building diet plan.

Don't cook them like you usually would do though. Try, whenever possible, to eat them raw like cold cereal.

The reason being that they are far lower in volume this way so you'll be able to fit more calories into your stomach, which will go to support your goal of adding more lean muscle tissue.

Raw oats can also be tossed into a shake as well, or baked into your own protein bars for a quick snack on the go.

Dried Fruit

Dried fruit is another of the top muscle building foods that should be in your diet plan. While fresh fruit is a great option and will supply you with plenty of vitamins and minerals, dried fruit is ten times more calorie dense so for those struggling to get their intake up there, will be a much more superior choice.

Dried fruit can also be eaten as a trail mix, added into protein bars, or tossed into your oatmeal and milk in the morning.

Natural Peanut Butter

Finally the last of the top muscle building foods that you should be including in your diet is natural peanut butter. Natural peanut butter can easily be spread over many different foods from bagels, to fruit, to added into sauces that you're preparing.

Natural peanut butter is filled with healthy fats and offers a small amount of protein as well, which will further help your efforts to build more muscle mass.

So make sure you have a good look over your diet and ensure these foods are included in.

For more helpful information that you can start incorporating into your workout program, please see my site dedicated to helping you learn how to build muscle

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How to Make a Healthy Fruit Salad - Free Raw Recipe


If you're wondering how to make a healthy fruit salad and something that is quick and easy, this raw food recipe is so simple it'll only take minutes to prepare. You can make it just prior to serving or make in advance and refrigerate.

There are many fruit salad recipes but not all of them are healthy. This raw fruit salad recipe is healthy and contains only fruits. It's versatile. If you leave something out it won't make a difference. You can add other fruits to it or substitute other fruits. It's one of my favorite healthy raw food recipes. All the kids and adults love it and ooh and ahh over it.

Dried Fruit

If possible, it's best to serve it first before the meal and enjoy the fast digestive benefits. Fruits usually digest within 15 minutes and digest better when not combined with fats and proteins. This saves the body's energy for other digestive processes and other work. Also, more is likely to be eaten before the meal rather than after when everyone is full. Or just serve it with the meal and let everyone help themselves.

Here's how to make a healthy fruit salad recipe:

Choose the fruits you like. You can leave any of these out, except one orange for mixing and bananas, but you may reduce the amount of bananas. The ingredients are:

1 cup of seedless grapes, cut in half

1 orange peeled and sliced in thin slices

1 orange - reserve for top

1-2 oranges for mixing

1 sweet apple like a Gala or tart apple if you like, cubed. Actually, any type of apple you have on hand is good.

1 pear cored, peeled and cubed

5-6 ripe, not green, bananas, sliced

1 handful to 1 cup of blueberries, fresh or frozen

1/2 cup fresh or frozen mango chunks

1/2 cup dried fruit, any combination chopped - figs, dates, raisins and/or cranberries, optional

1-2 cups strawberries, sliced, reserve 5-6 whole strawberries for top

1-2 kiwifruit, sliced thin, reserve for top, optional

Slice the bananas into a big bowl. Add any of the other fruits you like. Slowly and carefully fold them in, being careful not to bruise the fruit. Squeeze one orange, slowly add to the fruit and gently mix in. You may need two oranges if you have a lot of fruit. Lay some thin kiwi and strawberry slices around the edges, alternating or use your creativity. Refrigerate and serve chilled.

That's it. It's really simple and so sweet and healthy. Nothing cooked. No gluten and no dairy either. That's how to make a healthy fruit salad - a great raw food recipe you'll love to serve often

How to Make a Healthy Fruit Salad - Free Raw Recipe

For my raw food diet cure and secrets - how I used it to help cure my breast cancer, arthritis, fibromyalgia, acid reflux, digestive & sleep issues, headaches, pain, weight loss, etc. see a nurse/raw food expert's and my easy raw food recipes

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Saturday, December 25, 2010

How to Add Color to Homemade Soaps


There are many different ways to add color to soap. Natural color can be added with dried herbs, fruit fibers, clays and essential oils. Bright bold colors can be added with FD&C colors, iron oxides, and micas. Here is some more information about these different options.


Many herbs can act as a natural source of color for your soaps. Some herbs like chamomile, calendula, rosehips, and peppermint release their color when infused in oil. These oils retain their color through cold process soap making. Some herbs will lend their color and texture to soap when the dried herb is stirred into the soap. Good herbs to try are powdered sandalwood (light brown), powdered patchouli (brown), calendula petals (yellow), and powdered rose hips (red). Some herbs will not retain their color using this method, so always test your herbs in a small batch of soap before using them to color a large batch. You can get herbs from herb companies as well as soap making suppliers.

Fruit Fibers

Some vendors sell fruit fibers as natural soap colorants. Blueberry, cranberry, and raspberry fruit fibers add differing shades of pink to soap.

Essential Oils and Fragrance Oils

Some essential oils and fragrance oils can be used for coloring soap. Most notable are vanilla fragrance oil or any fragrance oil containing vanilla (will color soaps a light to a dark brown) and sweet orange essential oil (if the color hasn't been removed the folded oil will color soap a dark orange). Some other fragrance oils will all color to your soap - it depends on the manufacturer of the oil. I had a lilac fragrance oil once that always turned my soaps pink after they aged. It was very pretty.

Dried Clays

Dried clays can also be added to soap for color. Two popular clays to add to soap are french green clay (for a pale green color) and french pink clay (for a light pink color).

FD&C Colors, Iron Oxides, and Micas

FD&C Colors and iron oxides add bright colors to soap. FD&C colors are best used with melt and pour soaps. Micas add shimmer and sparkle to soap. Many manufacturers sell kits for these colors.

Ololade Franklin is the owner of - a website for people who want to start and grow handcrafted soap and bath and body care businesses. For labels to package your handmade soaps and cosmetics, visit her site at

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Health Benefits of Dried Fruit Baskets


The first popular dried fruit was the raisin, a dried grape. Its history can be traced back six thousand years to Ancient Egypt. At the time, people dried fruit in the sun as a method of food preservation. But beyond simple preservation, it had several advantages over fresh fruit. For starters, it was highly portable and could be taken along as a snack without having to worry about it spoiling in the desert sun. And as a snack, they were preferable to fresh fruits because they provide sugar in a more concentrated form. Dried fruits like raisins also added a boost of flavor to bland foods.

Are they as healthy as fresh fruit? The answer is probably not. You see, when fruit is dried the dehydration often removes more than just water. Many of the water soluble vitamins like vitamin C and the B vitamins are also removed. As we mentioned, dried fruits are also higher in sugars, which means that they have more calories. But this is not necessarily a bad thing, since sugar provides energy. That may be why this is a common ingredient in popular trail mix snack packs.

Dried Fruit

We also know that dried fruits like raisins and dates are a good source of fiber. The most obvious benefit of fiber is that it promotes regular bowel movements, which will improve overall digestive health. Studies have also shown that high fiber diets can reduce cholesterol levels and may even reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.

Where can you find them? Most supermarkets stock small assortments of these items. But if you want an impressive selection of the fruits either for personal use or to send as a gift, we suggest dried fruit baskets. These baskets can be purchased at competitive prices from fruit sellers on the internet.

The average dried fruit basket will only set you back about thirty to forty dollars and it will include an impressive arrangement of delicious dried fruits. Unlike fresh fruit baskets that often only feature three or four different fruits, these offer a larger sampling. The baskets that we reviewed contained half a dozen food items, including raisins, dates, pears, figs, cherries and sliced pineapples.

But before you buy, make certain that you locate a company that uses natural methods to dry their fruits, rather than chemical agents. Sure, it might end up costing you a bit more, but your family and friends will taste the difference.

And of course, fruit baskets make a perfect gift!

Health Benefits of Dried Fruit Baskets

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Friday, December 24, 2010

Tips on Cake Baking


A Great Cake is Moist and Flavorful!

1. Choose recipe and read thoroughly. If there are any terms you are unfamiliar with, check them out on the Internet.

2. Use fresh ingredients

3. Bring eggs and butter to room temperature

4. Preheat oven-make sure rack is close to center (with exception of Angel Food cakes which need the rack at lowest position).

5. Be sure to use the correct cake pans. Visualize your decoration with frosting, choose cakes accordingly. Most popular birthday cakes are sheet cakes because you can write a lot of words on them. Second most popular is two round pans because cake is so much more tasty with frosting between layers. Cake pans can be round, square, sheet, tube, Bundt or cupcakes. Your recipe may suggest the best cake pans to use.

6. Grease the pans with shortening. Take a small sheet of waxed paper and wrap it around your index and middle finger. Dig into the shortening and apply same to the cake pan. You need quite a bit of shortening-make it look like white layer of cold cream on your face. Be sure to get right into the edges so the cake won't stick. [DO NOT GREASE OR FLOUR ANGEL FOOD CAKE PANS]

7. Flour the pans. Take about 1/4 cup of flour and sprinkle it over the shortening. Pick up the pan and hit the sides so the flour will distribute equally. You want the flour to adhere to the shortening, but you don't want mounds of flour. Toss the excess in the sink. Repeat with additional pans.

8. Use paper liners when making cupcakes as this provides ease in decorating and clean-up.

9. Gather and measure all ingredients before you start mixing. Use medium bowl for flour and small bowls or containers for salt, baking soda, extracts etc.

10. Dry ingredients are measured with dry measuring cups and spoons. Dry measuring cups look like small bowls and there is one for each amount. (ie. ½ cup). When you measure dry ingredients, overfill the cup while holding it over your container. Then run a knife over the top of the cup to level the ingredient with the absolute top rim of the dry measuring cup. Use this same technique with measuring spoons when you are measuring dry ingredients like baking powder, baking soda, salt.

a. An exception to the dry measure technique is when you are measuring brown sugar. You must compact the brown sugar in the dry measuring cup by mashing it with your hand into the bottom of the dry measuring cup. Fill it to the top and scrape off excess with a knife.

11. Only liquid ingredients are measured in glass measuring cups. Glass measuring cups have lines drawn to designate the amount (ie. 1/3 cup, 1 cup, 2 cups, etc.). You measure small amounts of liquids (ie. Vanilla extract) with measuring spoons. They should be filled to the rim. It's a good idea to have at least two sets of measuring spoons, one for dry (salt, baking soda) and one set for liquid.

12. When measuring margarine or butter use the measuring guide located on the stick wrapper and cut evenly. Then let it come to room temperature. If you are using margarine or butter from a tub, it's a good idea to place a small piece of saran wrap inside the measuring cup and then spoon the butter (or shortening) into the cup, this makes for easy clean-up.

13. For extra moist cakes (and muffins), add 1 Tablespoon of sour cream to your batter.

14. Follow your recipe for the order in which to mix your ingredients. Very few recipes say to dump all ingredients in at once. Often, you need to beat in eggs one at a time on low speed.

15. Use an electric mixer, if at all possible. It is much better at mixing your ingredients than you can do by hand. Mixing by hand in a large mixing bowl is possible, but it takes at least 300 beats to properly mix a cake. When you can see no flour or dry ingredient, your cake batter is properly mixed. Stop the mixer occasionally to scrape the batter from the sides of the mixing bowl. An electric mixer will do your work in two to three minutes.

16. Use a sturdy wooden spoon for adding in ingredients like chocolate chips, nuts or dried fruit. Take a few tablespoons of flour and mix with the dried fruit. This will prevent dried fruit from sticking together.

17. Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake pans. Use a rubber spatula to scrape as much of the batter from the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl and beaters as possible. Smooth out the batter so that it reaches the sides of the prepared cake pans.

a. If using two pans, try to get the batter evenly distributed between the two pans. Some cooks use a measuring cup to evenly distribute between the two pans, but that takes time. You do need the two pans to have approximately the same amount of batter so that they will rise and cook the same in the same oven.

18. Carefully, put cake pans in the pre-heated oven.

19. Some ovens require you to change from pre-heat setting to bake setting. If this is required, please do so. Preheat uses both the top and bottom heat elements and baking only uses the bottom. So if you don't want to scorch the top of your cake, be sure to set the oven on BAKE.

20. Set a timer. You can set it 5 minutes less than the recipe calls for. Peaking that late in the process will not make the cake fall.

21. DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR, until the timer goes off. If you open an oven door while a cake is rising, the cold air from the kitchen will rush in and cause the cake to collapse.

22. Cake is ready when the sides have gently separated from the sides of the pan. Best test is to stick a toothpick into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, cake is ready. If there is batter stuck to the toothpick, return to oven for 5 to 10 minutes. Test until toothpick comes out clean. [Pull the rack with the cake pans halfway out of the oven, then test. ]

23. When cakes are ready, remove from oven and place on cooling racks on kitchen counter. Set timer for 10 minutes. Do not disturb the cakes.

24. After 10 minutes, run a butter knife around the edge of the pan (between the pan and cake) to ensure the cake has loosened sufficiently around the edges. Place a cooling rack over the cake with one hand and gently turn the cake over with the other. If you have used enough shortening, your cake pans will lift off the cake layer easily. If not, you may have to gently shake the pans to separate them from the cake. Try not to tear the cake at this point or you will be covering your mistake with frosting.

25. Cool THOROUGHLY before frosting. When you place the palm of your hand on the cake, and it feels cool, you are ready to decorate. It may take 30 minutes to cool.

High-Altitude Adjustments

* For each cup of flour, increase by 1 tablespoon. Add an additional egg to rich cakes to prevent them from falling.

* For each teaspoon of baking powder or baking soda, decrease by 1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon.

* For each cup of fat, decrease by 1-2 tablespoons.

* For each cup of sugar, decrease by 1-2 tablespoons.

* For each cup of liquid, increase by 2-4 tablespooons.

* Try increasing baking temperature 15-25 degrees to "set" the batter.

Experiment with different combinations. All adjustments may not be necessary.

We are a website that specializes in "Birthdays". If you want to bake a cake, throw a surprise party for someone special, cheer up a sick friend or send a card then please visit us at

To send birthday cards visit us at

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DIY Solar Fruit Drier - Cheap &amp; Easy DIY Solar Project For Eco-friendly Healthy Dried Fruit


It always seems to be the way - there is a surplus of fruit or vegetables for just a few short weeks when everything is in season, and the cost then goes up for the rest of the year.  Preserving fruit can be expensive and very labour intensive.  Healthy sun dried fruit and veg may be the way for you to preserve and store the surplus.

If you have either fruit trees or live near a market that sells fruit & veg, you an take advantage of cheap fruit and store it. Once a necessity for homesteaders, country folk and "hippies", there is no reason not to be a little thrifty and give the kids something to do,  and reap the benefits of cheap, healthy dried fruit & veg for snacks & cooking. Eat local and healthier by preserving the goodness of your favourite seasonal foods, garden veggies, fruits and herbs to enjoy all year long.

Dried Fruit

Preserving surplus fruit for thrifty healthy living

Many home gardens have fruit trees and it all seems to ripen all at once. If you don't have a garden with fruit trees or a veggie patch, check out the local fruit growers markets. Often at the end of the day or close of market, cases of fruit & veg will go out at super cheap rates. The trick is - what to do to store and use it all. Preserving by bottling is often put forward as a solution to this problem. Freezing the excess fruit is another option. However, both these methods, while satisfying can sometimes be too much work for a busy family, let alone energy intensive. As far as cheap and easy, the method of preserving which wins hands down is sun drying. A DIY solar food dryer works well and the capital cost is virtually zero (make out of scrap materials), and the running costs are basically nil. Dried fruit needs no special storage requirements and is always to hand. The kids will snack on healthier dried fruit popped into lunch boxes, camping / hiking / boating / bicycle bags or snacks for car trips.

What's the best fruit to Dry?

Apples, apricots, peaches, plums, cherries, bananas, strawberries, pears, mangoes, kiwis, pineapple, melons, tomatoes, capsicum, chillies, corn. When in doubt, experiment or ask a local health food shop or hit the internet for ideas.

How does a Solar Food Dryer Work?

There's no rule on the size, materials or shape to build your solar drier. Our suggestion is just one that worked for us. The way the dryer works is simple - the heat coming through the glass cover is absorbed by the black interior surfaces. The closed box gets hotter as the heat energy is "trapped", heating the air inside. The hot air inside rises and passes out of the upper set of holes by natural convection. The rising and escaping hot air, draws in fresh air from outside via the holes in the base of the dryer. This gives a continuous flow of warm air around and over the fruit, which removes the moisture and dries the fruit.  Once dry, store your dried produce in airtight containers for snacks and cooking at any time.

DIY Solar Fruit Drier - Cheap & Easy DIY Solar Project For Eco-friendly Healthy Dried Fruit

You can read more about how to go about building a DIY Solar Fruit Drier on our website. We hope to provide more DIY Eco Tips & Solutions website to make your living eco-friendly and cheaper.

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Heart Healthy Snacks for Kids and Adults


The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says we should eat no more than 2,400 milligrams of sodium (salt) a day. The World Health Organization (WHO) says the same thing. But Americans, on average, are eating 4,000 milligrams of salt a day, and much of it comes from restaurant meals, frozen meals, and canned food.

Salt is an acquired taste and the more salt kids eat the more they want. This concerns health experts because salt is one of the major causes of high blood pressure and pre-high blood pressure.

Kids get really hungry between meals. All too often, kids snack on high-sugar, high-salt, and high-fat foods. They eat these snacks because they are available. Similarly, kids will eat healthy snacks if they are available. Kids will enjoy healthy snacks if you involve them in preparation. You may want to make Saturday your "official" snack preparation day.

Young children can wash grapes, bag them in zipper snack bags, and pop them in the freezer. Kids will enjoy making pure fruit juice ice pops as well. Older kids may assemble the ingredients for individual pizzas and note the baking directions on a recipe card. The last thing you can do to promote healthy snacks is to store them at a reachable height. These snacks will quell kids' hunger and tide them over until the next meal.

* Crisp apple wedges (Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, and Braeburn are especially good.)

* Frozen red and green grapes

* Individual pizzas made with whole wheat English muffins, salt-free tomato sauce, dried oregano, and low-fat mozzarella cheese

* Fat-free, sugar-free yogurt (Divide into two servings for young children.)

* Orange fruit smoothie made with fresh orange juice, ice cubes, and fat-free, sugar-free vanilla yogurt

* Fruit ka-bobs (pineapple chunks, sliced bananas, and seedless grapes)

* Baby carrots, celery, and broccoli with low-fat vegetable cream cheese (Thin the cheese with a little fat-free milk.)

* Dried apples, apricots, pears, and raisins

* Unsweetened applesauce

* Homemade trail mix (unsalted peanuts, raisins, and a few chocolate chips)

* Plain popcorn with chopped dried fruit

* Fritatta squares made with egg substitute, low-fat cheese, and a few bacon crumbles

* Low-fat peanut butter and sugar-free jelly sandwiches on whole wheat bread

* Low-fat cheese on salt-free crackers

* Low-fat cheddar and a dollop of chutney on salt-free crackers

* 1% cottage cheese with fresh or frozen fruit (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, peaches)

* Pure fruit juice ice pops

* Drained and chilled Mandarin oranges in plastic zipper snack bags

* Flavored water

The last way to promote healthy snacks is to take kids grocery shopping. Let them choose the fresh fruits and veggies they enjoy best. Ask kids to read food labels, too, especially the sugar content, salt content, and serving size. Get on the heart healthy path and enjoy these snacks with your kids.

Copyright 2006 by Harriet Hodgson

Harriet Hodgson has been a freelance nonfiction writer for 28 years. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and the Association for Death Education and Counseling. Her 24th book, "Smiling Through Your Tears: Anticipating Grief," written with Lois Krahn, MD, is available from A five-star review of the book is posted on Amazon. Another review is posted on the American Hospice Foundation Website under the "School Corner" heading.

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Every Door Deserves A Holiday Wreath


No matter what the festival or season, a wreath on the door is a classic decoration. The fun in this ubiquitous decoration comes in choosing a wreath's materials and colors and even whether to replace the traditional round wreath with a graceful swag or loops of garlands.

While a traditional evergreen wreath is an excellent choice, many decorators overlook the potential and sheer variety available in wreaths. There are styles to suit every kind of architecture, interior decorating style and even landscape designs. Options range from a simple bare wreath made of grapevines to full green wreath of fir or pine bedecked with ribbons, bows and balls. The choice is up to the decorator but a few suggestions can assure having a personalized wreath that still fits nicely with a home's style. There are even outdoor rugs decorated with wreaths that can serve as welcome mats for the season.

Dried Fruit

A classic evergreen wreath is ideal for any home in a traditional architectural design. However, that timeless evergreen base can be decorated with any kind of embellishment, from tiny white lights to gaudy metallic balls to homespun artificial or dried fruit. Whether it is holly berries with ivy or silver tinsel, an evergreen wreath has the potential to be a stunningly personalized decoration.

Contemporary style homes can use evergreen wreaths as decorations both indoors and out, depending entirely upon the chosen embellishments. Homeowners with Contemporary or Modern design dwellings can choose to go with manmade materials, such as metallic tinsel wreaths or garlands, or even wreaths made of recycled or plastic components. Remember the silver tinsel trees with their rotating color wheels from the 1950s? That's a look that contemporary and modern homes can still carry off.

Homes in Cottage Country design have the benefit of a wide range of styles from which to choose for holiday decorating. Naturally Lodge or Rustic style homes can use the traditional evergreen wreath handsomely, while an English Cottage home would look lovely with a wreath made from dried hydrangeas adorned with a shimmering silver bow. For holiday color, pick hydrangeas while they are still green and enhance them with chartreuse glass balls. Pink hydrangeas can be picked and preserved to create one of the "pink Christmas" decorating themes that have become so popular in recent years. A pink rug just inside the door would make an ideal transition to the interior decorating theme.

Country Cottage homes in Southwestern style have a wonderful alternative in the classic chili pod decorations known as ristras. These swags of bright red piquin peppers dried and tied together, can last as long as five years if they're well maintained. Christmas wreaths made of chili pods are popular throughout the American Southwest, as are artificial lights shaped like chilis.

Innovative decorators sometimes opt for alternative or naturalistic wreaths no matter what the architectural style. Cuttings from native plants, fruit or seedpods all can be used to create unusual and striking wreaths. Wreaths of this kind often can be used throughout the fall and winter seasons, changing their adornments as the holidays come and go.

The last suggestion for using wreaths in home holiday decorating is think beyond the front door. Wreaths can be hung everywhere, from two vertically stacked on tall doors and windows to small wreaths for interior doors, doorknobs, stairways and even as Christmas tree ornaments. With such versatility, why stop at just one?

Every Door Deserves A Holiday Wreath

Design consultant Fran really enjoys writing about home decorating using wreaths at holiday time. And she says that if you want your room to make a statement without spending a fortune then all you need to is place outdoor rugs or oval rugs on your floor.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

How to Make Fruit Leather


Fruit leathers or fruit roll ups are homemade fruit rolls. Fruit leathers are made from pureed fruit that is dried on a flat surface. After the fruit is dry, it is pulled from the drying surface and rolled into small tubes. Fruit roll ups get their name from the look and texture of the dried, pureed fruit which is shiny and leathery.

Homemade fruit roll ups are a great tasty, nutritious snack that children especially love. Homemade fruit leather can be made from many different fruit combinations and spices and are substantially less expensive and more wholesome than the store bought kind. Store bought fruit roll ups are really over processed candy and contain heavy sugars or corn syrup and are partially made from fruit juice. Thus, store bought fruit roll ups are not one hundred percent fruit.

Making roll ups requires the following utensils:

a double boiler or steamer (optional),
a food processor or blender, or alternatively strong arms and forearms for mashing and blending
and plastic wrap or non-stick dehydrator sheets

Fruit Leather steps:

Use ripe or slightly overripe fruit
Wash, remove stems and seeds, remove peels (some peel can be left on oranges, lemons, limes and other similar food)
Cut the food into slices or chunks
Steam it for 10-15 minutes (optional)
Puree it in a blender or food processor
Add juice or spices as flavoring (pineapple, lemon, lime), if desired add sugar or honey as a sweetener, and or add chopped nuts or coconut to create different textures
To prevent food discoloration and flavor loss, add 1/2 teaspoon of ascorbic acid crystals or 2 tablespoons of lemon juice for every 2 cups of fruit.
Lightly coat the food dehydrator plastic sheets or wrap with a cooking spray
Pour the puree to create an even depth of 1/8 to 1/4 inch
Maintain a food dehydrator temperature of 115 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit, or 46 to 54 degrees Celsius, and dry for up to 10 hours. The fruit leather is ready if it peels readily at the edges and if you cannot see any indentations after you touch it in several places.
Roll your strips of fruit leather and wrap them in plastic wrap. Fruit leather can be stored for a year in the freezer, several months in the refrigerator and a month or two at room temperature.

Fruit leather can also be made via an uncooked method. After slicing the fruit into chunks (step 3), skip step 4 (steaming) and proceed to step 5 and puree the fruit.Other tips:

Fruits suitable for fruit leather include apples, apricots, bananas, berries, cherries, grapes, oranges, pears, pineapples, plums, strawberries, tangerines, and tomatoes
Draining excess juice from the fruit will speed up the drying time
Applesauce can be dried alone or added to any fresh puree. Applesauce will add sweetness and make the fruit leather smoother and more pliable.
Spices to add: Sparingly use cinnamon, cloves, coriander, ginger, mace, mint, nutmeg or pumpkin pie spice

Visit Food Dehydrator to learn how to dehydrate food and make beef jerky and dried fruit. Use our food dehydrator content and calculators to discover the benefits of food dehydrators and dried food.

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The Best Foods to Eat to Gain Muscle Mass Fast For Skinny Guys


In this article you will discover how to gain muscle mass fast with the power ofnatural foods. There is absolutely no need for you to waste your money onsupplements because they will cost you a lot of money to see tinny results. Of coursepopular bodybuilder magazines are promoting them because these bodybuildingmagazines are owned by the supplement industry. I'm going to give you five veryefficient tips to use natural food in your advantage.

Eat nutrition dense food
Eat calorie rich food that are loaded with nutrients. Foods with empty calories shouldbe avoided, empty calories means that there is no nutrition value in the calories youare eating. If you meal is fulfilled with bad fats and sugar you will end up feelingsluggish and soft. I recommend you to eat a a high caloric meal loaded with slowreleasing carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, fiber and minerals.

Dried Fruit

Eat more dried fruits
Dries fruit such as mangos, apples, pear, apples and dates can work to your advantageif you want to gain weight. Did you know that a handful of dried fruit has the sameamount of calories like a large apple. But don't eat the extra sweetened ones becausethey are loaded with hydrogenated oils as an additive. A note of warning here driedfruit can work in your disadvantage if you want to lose fat.

Eat foods rich in protein
Protein is the number one nutrient element you will need to get rid of your skinnybody. Make sure that you eat plenty of good protein sources such as chickenwhite/breast, tuna, low cottage cheese, milk, beans and nuts.

Eat more health fats
Unconsciousness you will link fat to fat loss but it is also very important in gainingmuscle mass. You must eat healthy fats, they are the nutrient used in the hormonemanipulation. Sources of healthy fats are eggs, yolks, beef, and avocado.

Omega 3 fat acids
It is also important to eat a lot of omega 3 fat acids it can be found in eggs (the whitepart) and in salmon. It is always recommend to eat your food as natural as possible sochoose wild salmon instead of cultured salmon and choose eggs from chickens whorun outside and can eat their natural foods instead of chickens locked down into smallcages.

Of course to gain muscle mass you will have to do workouts as well but I didn'tdescribe them in this article because nutrition is the most important factor. Thinkabout it you only need to workout for a few hours a week (at least 5) so are you reallygoing to mess it all up in your "free time".

The Best Foods to Eat to Gain Muscle Mass Fast For Skinny Guys

Discover step by step how an ex runner junkie gained. 41 lbs. of pure muscle mass in six months. And now you can copy him because he is willing to teach you how to do the same. Yes you will have time to things outside the gym. Yes you can save your money on body building magazines because you will not need them anymore .

Do yourself a favour and go to my website right now. And of course you will get a lot of nutrition information

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Knowing The Good Foods for Your Health


Some of our healthy foods can be surprisingly filled with hidden fats. With so many people dieting and so may new so called diet foods available we tend to take for granted that they are healthy and not pay attention.

Eating fish full of omega 3 fatty acids has been said to be a benefit health wise for us.

Sushi can be a healthy treat but if you don't make the right choice you may end up eating sushi made with bad ingredients you don't want such as mayonnaise.

Have a tuna roll or sevechi so long as you know it's the healthy sushi you choose.

The fresh fruit or dried fruit dilemma, which is better for you? Fresh fruit is less dense than dried fruit and you can be sure there is no added sugar. Dried fruit is a handy fruit choice but because it has fewer calories than the dried fruit, fresh fruit should be your fruit choice whenever possible.

In the dieting world the granola bar is a big so called healthy choice for a snack or to replace lunch with. Store bought granola contains added sugar and therefore more hidden calories than you may realize. If you must have granola then try making your own, some honey, nuts, fruits and oatmeal is all it takes to be sure your eating healthy granola.

Lunch seems to be that one meal that is hard to find the right choices for.

The veggie burger seems to be the healthy choice instead of that whopper with cheese. Well be aware that the cheese may be what is holding that veggie burger together. Although the veggie burger is a smarter choice they should be eaten in moderation.

Learning what to look for in your food choices, even the diet food we take for granted can make us healthier people making smarter choices.

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Enjoy the Virtues of Argan Oil in the Best Riad Hotels in Marrakech


For centuries, argan oil has been one of the best kept beauty secrets of the Berber women in southern Morocco. This natural oil, extracted by pressing the dried fruit of the argan tree, is traditionally used for its nourishing and exceptional cosmetic qualities in the care of skin and hair, but also as edible oil used to flavor couscous, salad or fish.

The argan tree (Argania Spinoza) is a tree endemic to the region of the Atlas Mountains and the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, especially the regions of Essaouira, Agadir, Tiznit and Mirleft. It is a tree mainly found in Morocco, in an area known as the Arganeraie Biosphere Reserve, listed as World Natural Heritage by UNESCO.

Dried Fruit


After harvesting by hand, the fruits of the argan tree are sun-dried for several weeks. The shells of nuts are then broken in order to extract the two or three small kernels they contain. The extraction of the oil is done by mechanical almond presses which do not require the use of any chemicals. This technique of traditional manufacturing has enabled the main Virgin Argan oil to obtain a certification as "Bio".

The production of argan oil for food requires an additional step that provides an exceptional eating quality. Before pressing, the nuts are lightly roasted to give argan oil a delicious taste of almond and hazelnut.

Rediscovered in the last few years, the production of this unique oil is now a central element of the policy to improve the working conditions of rural women in the regions of Essaouira and Agadir. The vast majority of the production of oil from argan is now mostly provided by women's cooperatives, which are sometimes supported by government agencies in Morocco. Strong international demand for argan oil has also helped the establishment of sustainable management of forest estate of the argan tree in south-west Morocco.


Argan oil is soaked with essential omega-6 fatty acids and vitamin E (tocopherols). These antioxidants help combat dry skin by compensating for its lack of proper nourishment.

As for your diet, this oil has also proved to be a valuable ally for the linoleic acid needed by your body. Richer in this acid than olive oil, the oil extracted from argan contains nearly 80% of unsaturated fatty acids, of which 42% is linoleic acid.

Argan oil is another of the many secrets that can be discovered during your visit to the South of Morocco and during your stay in some of the most charming riad hotels in Marrakech, where you will get lots of information about how and where to find the best argan oil. In Marrakech, you will find how argan oil is always present in many aspects of life for the local population in this region, especially women's beauty, food, etc.

Enjoy the Virtues of Argan Oil in the Best Riad Hotels in Marrakech

Visit Marrakech to enjoy a fantastic opportunity to discover the main uses of this oil, unique this part of the world, and appreciate many of the delicious famous Moroccan meals elaborated with argan oil in the best restaurants in the Ochre City. Find the best riads in Marrakech, where you are always welcome and invited to enjoy an unforgettable holiday in this magical city.

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Hostess Gifts - Beyond the Bottle of Wine


Don't get me wrong, a bottle of wine is a great hostess gift, but sometimes we want to give something more unique. Why don't you try a memorable hostess gift this holiday season!

Think breakfast!

The party was wonderful, your hosts had a blast, but a late night of cleaning made the morning come way too fast! Wouldn't it be nice to leave them a breakfast hostess gift!

Homemade Muffins

Fresh Bagels and Gourmet Coffee

Homemade Bread with Homemade Strawberry Jam

Homemade Granola

Homemade Granola Recipe:

2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup pecans, optional
1/3 cup frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 cup coconut
1 cup dried fruit - craisins and golden raisins are yummy!

Homemade Granola Directions:
Preheat oven to 300.
Mix together oats and pecans.
Mix in apple juice concentrate, brown sugar and cinnamon.
Spread on non-stick cookie sheet.
Bake 25 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
Stir in coconut and bake 15 more minutes.
Remove from oven and cool completely.
Stir in dried fruit and give in an airtight container.

No Cooking Required!

Look no further than your local T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, Ross or Homegoods for inexpensive hostess gift ideas! The rosemary plant will have to be purchased from a garden center.

Rosemary Plant - smell great, looks great & it's useful!

Cocktail Napkins - seasonal or silly!


Christmas Ornament

Gourmet Foods - Pasta with sauce or soup mixes will make dinner the next day nice and easy!

* What is The Budget Diet? is a diet for your wallet...not your waistline! You'll discover a collection of Shape-Up Tips to help you slim down your daily spending! Whether you need to cut back a lot or just a little, you're sure to find plenty of Shape Up Tips that your family can live with. Challenge yourself to incorporate my top 5 Shape Up Tips in your life, and subscribe to my free Shape Up Tip of the day and you'll soon find your family saving at least $400 a month! So, let's get this diet started!

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12 years ago, I left my job to stay home with our 3 children, and our household income was cut in half! Of course, I didn't want to change our lifestyle and more free time meant more time to shop, but how would shopping be any fun without money? I quickly discovered that the stay at home mom job description included more than just play dates...I was now the CEO of the Story family and also the maid, the cook and yes, the bargain shopper. So, my life on a budget began, and I created to share money saving tips with other stay at home moms.

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Vacuum Packaging - Why Its Used


You have heard about vacuum packaging all your life and every time you shop at you local grocery store you encounter it. What is the reason behind it and is it necessary, or is it just a gimmick? Also, what types of products does it benefit the most?

Does Vacuum Packaging Suck?

Dried Fruit

The basic principles behind vacuum packaging are quite simple. Heated plastic is encased around a product, or substance and before it has cooled and solidified, the air is sucked out of the package or container. The result, is that when the package cools, it is form fit around what it contains and most, if not all of the air in the package has been sucked out.

Gases Out - Product In

The air that you breath is actually a combination of several different gases, with oxygen being the most prevalent. Each type of gas has the potential to react with a variety of substances, with oxygen possible being the most reactive. For instance, an item that is made from steel will rust if it is expose to the air. By vacuum packaging a steel product, it is prevented from rusting while it is on a store shelf.

So many Products - So Much Packaging

The same goes for food products. Dried fruit for instance, will be effected by the oxygen and nitrogen that is in the atmosphere. By vacuum packaging dried fruit, its freshness and shelf life is extended greatly. On an on the list goes of products that benefit by being protected from the air that surround us and vacuum packaging is the most common method of protecting these products.

Food safety is another thing that vacuum packaging provides for consumers. When you pick up a package of hot dogs and can see that the vacuum seal is intact and viable, you can rest assured it is safe for your family. Should the vacuum packed hot dogs be bloated with gas, you then can plainly see that there is an obvious problem.

Vacuum Packaging - Why Its Used

Written by Timothy Bardoah. Get all you need to know about Vacuum Packaging [] and even Vacuum Food Sealing [].

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Fruit Leather - Homemade Via a Food Dehydrator Versus Store Bought


Fruit leathers are a great tasting, healthy snack that can be easily made with a food dehydrator. Homemade fruit leather's basic ingredients should consist of:

- ripe or slightly overripe fruit,

- if desired, juices, spices, nuts, coconut or applesauce for flavoring and or different textures and,

- if desired, honey, sugar or other sweeteners.

Fruits best suitable for leather include apples, apricots, bananas, berries, cherries, grapes, oranges, pears, pineapples, plums, strawberries, tangerines, and tomatoes. Applesauce can be dried alone or added to any fresh fruit puree before dehydrating. Applesauce will add sweetness and make the roll up smoother and more pliable. Further, spices can be added to the pre-dehydrated fruit mixture including cinnamon, cloves, coriander, ginger, mace, mint, nutmeg or pumpkin pie spice. However, spices should be used sparingly.

Homemade leathers are wholesome, 100% fruit snacks that are easy and fun to make. In contrast to homemade fruit leathers, store bought roll ups are over processed, over priced, imitation fruit products that include extra sugars, extra corn syrups and trans fats as ingredients. Below is a listing of the major ingredients from a well known, branded fruit roll up product sold in a typical grocery store:

- Pears from concentrate,

- Corn syrup,

- Dried corn syrup,

- Sugar,

- Partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil

To recap:

- Homemade fruit leather or roll ups - 100% fruit, 100% natural ingredients that you control.

Store bought roll up - Fruit juice, corn syrups and trans fat. - Go with the real thing - home made leathers made with your food dehydrator.

Visit Food Dehydrator to learn how to dehydrate food and make beef jerky and dried fruit. Use our content and calculators to discover the benefits of food dehydrators and dried food.

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Benefits - Raisin and Melon


Raisins are defined as dehydrated grapes. They are a dried fruit that are used in numerous dishes and deserts. Since they are rich in minerals and vitamins, it is considered to be very healthy when consumed with milk.

Melons belong to the guard family, and are usually sweet. Originated in Iran or Persia, this fruit has two main varieties: muskmelons and watermelons. The former is usually yellowish orange in colour, and has a hollow centre with seeds. The latter is usually green from the outside and red within, and are heavier too. Both of these can be eaten raw, and made into beverages as well.

Dried Fruit

Apart from being used for various food preparations, raisins and melons have important health benefits too.


• People with high acidity, or with chronic diseases are often advised a raisin diet. They are alkaline in nature, and thus maintain the body's acid balance.

• They are very rich in irons, hence making it ideal for treating anemia. It also helps in absorbing vitamins and minerals, thus it is good for underweight people to gain weight.

• They also make the heart stronger, help bowel movement, and prevent growth of cancer cells. Hence it is advisable to soak it and give it to children daily.

• Also if boiled with milk, they are used for arousing sexual pleasure and relieve stress.


• Melons help in relieving stress and treating panic and anxiety attacks, as they are rich in Vitamin B6, which is essential to manufacture important brain chemicals.

• Rich in Vitamin C, hence boosting the immune system. It also helps in attacking the radicals to prevent premature aging.

• They can effectively help in reducing bad cholesterol levels, and even high blood pressure.

Benefits - Raisin and Melon

Mr Ajeet K is a health nutritionist, and over the years has even worked in the capacity of a nutritionist for some of the renowned hospitals! He continues to enjoy studying how food items affect the body, and now has made it his mission to share such information with others.

For further information, check out raisin health benefits and melon health benefits

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Pie for All Seasons - Tips for Preparing the Fillings for Your Pies


Most of us will admit to a favorite type of pie. I love a pecan pie or a tart cherry pie still warm from the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. We can all also recall a time when we sat down to a delicious looking pie that had a tough or soggy crust, or the filling was under done, over done, or perhaps even contained a seed or pit of shell. Perhaps you have had a meat pie with bones! It can certainly ruin the enjoyment in a hurry. Here are some general tips to help you be sure the filling is the best it can be.

If currants are used in pies, you should carefully pick over and wash in several cool water baths, dry in a towel and dredge with flour before they are suitable for use. Today you can get currants that are already prepared for you, but if you can find fresh currants, well, all the better. The reason we dredge them in flour first is two-fold. First, the flour helps thicken the juices of the pie, and second, it helps suspend the currants within the pie so they don't all sink to the bottom.

Raisins, and all dried fruits for pies and cakes, may need to be seeded or stoned and dredged with flour before using.You may want to 'plump' some dried fruit. You can do this by soaking them in a hot liquid for 15 minutes or so. some recipes may call for you to boil dried fruit first. For example, if you want to use dried apple for an apple pie, simmer the slices in apple juice or cider for about 30 minutes before draining and using them in the filling. They will make a more tender pie.

Fresh almonds should be blanched by pouring boiling water over them and then slipping the skin off with the fingers. In crushing them, always add a little rose or orange-water, with fine sugar, to prevent their becoming oily. You could also use a few drops of lemon juice from a fresh lemon provided the flavor does not clash with your pie filling. Many fillings however, include lemon juice to prevent the fruit from turning brown.

Other nuts such as pecans or walnuts, release the flavors if they are roasted a bit before using them. The become sweeter and more tender. Place the nuts in a single layer on an un-greased baking pan and bake at 350 degrees F. for about 10-15 minutes. You do not want them to get browned, just warmed through.

When making custard pies, allow cooked custard to cool slightly before filling the pie. Then chill in the refrigerator,not the freezer. Cream pies may be made today using packaged mixes, a great convenience, but I find them somewhat lacking. Be sure to use the freshest ingredients, medium-sized eggs, and follow your recipe for outstanding results.

Great care is required in heating an oven for baking pastry. If you can hold your hand in the heated oven while you count twenty, the oven has just the proper temperature and it should be kept at this temperature as long as the pastry is in; this heat will bake to a light brown and will give the pastry a fresh and flaky appearance. If you suffer the heat to abate, the under crust will become heavy and clammy and the upper crust will fall in. While this advice predates today's ovens, it still holds true. You should follow your recipe or use about 350° for a moderate and 450° for a hot oven. If you can get an oven thermometer, use it. Even though the little dial says one thing, doesn't mean the element inside is listening. Most ovens are off by several degrees. I had an oven once that was off by 50 degrees, so when I thought I was baking cookies at 350 degrees, it was actually closer to 400 and I burned several batches before figuring it out.

Filling the Crust

Pie crust can be kept up to a week, or frozen and used within 6 months, but it is best if used within about 2 days.I usually make up several batches of crust and freeze. This way I can make a fresh pie with little effort any time I am in the mood.

In baking custard, pumpkin or squash pies,to prevent the mixture from being absorbed by the pastry, you will first partly bake the pastry before adding the filling, and when stewed fruit is used the filling should be perfectly cool when put in, or it will make the bottom crust soggy. Remember that when pre-baking pastry you should either prick the bottom, or line it with foil and fill with beans to keep the crust from puffing up too much.

After making the crust, take a portion of it, roll it out and fit it to a buttered pie-plate by cutting it off evenly around the edge; gather up the scraps left from cutting and make into another sheet for the top crust; roll it a little thinner than the under crust; lap one-half over the other and cut three or four slits about a quarter of an inch from the folded edge (this prevents the steam from escaping through the rim of the pie, and causing the juices to run out from the edges).

Now fill your pie-plate with your prepared filling, wet the top edge of the rim, lay the upper crust across the centre of the pie, turn back the half that is lapped over, seal the two edges together by slightly pressing down with your thumb, then notch evenly and regularly with a fork, dipping occasionally in flour to prevent sticking. Bake in a rather quick oven a light brown, and until the filling boils up through the slits in the upper crust.

To prevent the juice soaking through into the crust, making it soggy brush the bottom crust with the white of an egg, just before you put in the pie mixture. If the top of the pie is brushed over with the egg, it gives it a beautiful glaze.

Of course you don't have to stick to pastry crusts for pie. You can make a crumb crust by crumbling cookies, adding a little melted butter and sugar and pressing into a pan. These types of crusts are best used with chilled pies, such as a chocolate cream pie where a pudding like mixture is poured into the pie and the pie is chilled to set. These are fast and easy if you use a packaged instant pudding mix, and almost as fast if you make the pudding from scratch. But that is another article.

If you keep these tips in mind when making your pie, you will be able to achieve the results you want. Pie is making a resurgence lately as one of our favorite desserts. Master the pie and you will tame the family.

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