Monday, January 31, 2011

Hiking Food Tips


Not many people give much thought on what to pack for your hiking expedition. Day hikers are especially notorious for being unprepared. I've come up with 10 foods that you should always have in your pack. It's very important to have the right nutrition in your pack. Not having the proper meal plan could lead to dizziness, tiredness, nausea, and cramps.

NUMBER 10 Tuna with crackers. It's very easy to buy small cans of tuna with the crackers already packed with the tuna. It's recommended you buy the cans with the pull up top so you don't have to carry a can opener. Some tuna packages come with mayo and relish.

NUMBER 9 Hard Cheese and crackers. I would particularly recommend a sharp cheddar cheese as this tends to withstand the warm weather better than other cheeses. Bring along whole wheat crackers to add some flavor.

NUMBER 8 Peanut Butter. Peanut butter provides a lot of different options. I would recommend you repackage the peanut butter in a squeeze tube, which are quite readily available at most camping stores.

NUMBER 7 Candy Bars. This is really only recommended for moderate conditions. Under hot conditions obviously the candy bars will melt. Candy bars provide a quick burst of energy and of course everyone loves the taste of candy bars.

NUMBER 6 Fresh fruit. I recommend carrying fruit that can take rolling around in your backpack, you might find peaches, bananas, and plums less than desirable when you sit down to eat. Fruit gets very high marks for a nutritional carbohydrate fix, and almost everyone has a favorite fruit.

NUMBER 5 Beef jerky. If you can get the real beef jerky I would recommend that, otherwise packing a slim jim in your pack would be okay too. Beef jerky is a sure bet, extremely lightweight, and offers a very good balance of fat, protein, and carbohydrates.

NUMBER 4 Dried fruit. Dried fruit is more durable than fresh fruit and they pack more caloric bang per ounce. They are also flexible enough to be used with peanut butter or cheese.

NUMBER 3 Granola. Granola has become one of the go to foods for hikers and comes in a variety of flavors ranging from honey, and nut to more exotic combinations like blueberry or cherry. Loaded with fat and carbohydrates, granola is an excellent food source out on the trail.

NUMBER 2 Energy Bars. Sports nutrition energy bars are an excellent food source out on the trail. However, they can be expensive, so if you hike a lot I would recommend buying them in bulk. If you are fortunate enough to live where there is a Trader Joes, they offer great prices on energy bars.

NUMBER 1 Trail mix. A lot of times I love making trail mix myself. I find it just tastes better. A combination of any of your favorites including M&M's, chocolate chips, mini marshmallows, Cheerios, Chex cereal, raisins, peanuts, cashews, and dried coconut are some of my favorites. This is definitely the best food to have on the trail.

Check out for more ideas for camping supplies and hiking adventures.

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Water Kefir: How To Make It At Home


Water kefir is an increasingly popular probiotic drink that you can make fairly easily and inexpensively at home. It is a simple combination of "water kefir grains," sugar, and water. In the instructions below, note how you add flavor with dried fruit and fruit juice.

The biggest trick with water kefir is to find "water kefir grains." They are a symbiotic mass of bacteria and they reproduce. Vendors on the Internet sell them. Perhaps you have a friend locally who can share some with you. The key is not to mistake the grains for milk kefir with those for water kefir. The milk kefir grains are white; water kefir grains are more translucent. When you have acquired the grains, follow these simple instructions for making your probiotic water kefir frink.

Dried Fruit

Water kefir instructions: Innoculate the Water

Dissolve 1/3 cup sugar with warm water in a clean glass jar. Add one quart of water. (See instructions below on adding juice or fruit as well.) Add grains. Place in cupboard or other spot out of direct sunlight. Cover jar with a clean dish towel. Let sit for 24 hours Strain grains from liquid Add juice, reuse grains. Go back to step 1 with grains.

In the steps above, if you add no fruit or juice, you will have sugar water with beneficial bacteria. It's not too tasty. To get some flavor, you have a couple of options:

One-step kefir soda (uses dry fruit)

1/3 cup of sugar dissolved in 1 quart water Add grains when water has cooled Add 1-3 pieces of dried fruit (e.g., pineapple, apricot, papaya, mango) Ferment for 24 hours or until it reaches desired sweetness. (A longer fermentation process will reduce the sugar content and raise the alcohol content, though this recipe will not turn into "hooch." There is not enough sugar.) Strain grains, start new batch, drink soda.

Two-step kefir soda (uses fruit juice)

1/3 cup of sugar dissolved in 1 quart water Add grains when water has cooled Ferment for 24 hours or until it reaches desired sweetness. (A longer fermentation process will reduce the sugar content and raise the alcohol content, though this recipe will not turn into "hooch." There is not enough sugar.) Strain grains, start new batch. Add 1-2 cups of fruit juice to kefir water. Ferment for another 24 hours or until desired sweetness.

Note: Juice can be added initially to the grains to make it a "one-step" process, but grains will take on the color of the juice. It may also be difficult to remove all of the fruit pulp when straining the grains.

There are really no "rights" and "wrongs" with water kefir. Experiment until you find a flavor to suit you.

Water Kefir: How To Make It At Home

Alexander V. Martin is a whole foods lover and helps promote water kefir and he loves other fermented treasures such as a sauerkraut crock.

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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Healthy Treats Made With Nuts


If you're looking for a family treat or snack that is delicious and also has nutritional value, why not consider the healthy treats that can be made with nuts? Nuts are a great source of protein, fiber and antioxidants, making them an ideal snack. Here are a few treat ideas and some suggestions for keeping a well-stocked pantry so you can make amazing treats whenever you're inspired to do so.

Treat Ideas

Once you realize the variety of treats that can be made with nuts, you'll want to try as many as you can. From nut candies to pies there is likely to be something on this list to tempt everyone.

Chocolate Dipped Almonds

This is one of the easier confections to make. Simply purchase quality shelled almonds in the bulk section of your grocery store. Purchase salted or unsalted depending on your preference. Also buy a quality semi-sweet chocolate. Cut the chocolate into small sized chunks and place in a microwave safe glass bowl. On 50% heat, microwave the chocolate until it melts. Dip each almond into the melted chocolate and place on a sheet of wax paper until the chocolate has dried. This recipe can also be used with any other nut variety, or dried fruits and is particularly amazing with dried apricots.

Healthy Snack Mix

Nuts are great when combined with other snack ingredients like dried fruit and chocolate pieces. This is a healthy snack to make with the kids. If you prepare several bowls of ingredients in advance you can even have different family members assemble their own custom blended healthy snack mix.

Nut Pies

Who can resist pecan pie? For variety, why not try a chocolate hazelnut pie? Pies featuring nuts are rich and are perfect for a special occasion. While these may not be as healthy they still offer nutritional value for this type of dessert.

Stocking the Pantry

If you'd like to be able to create a culinary masterpiece any time the inspiration strikes, it's a great idea to have your pantry well stocked ahead of time. Most of the different treats that can be made with nuts will also require at least some of the basic baking supplies like sugar, flour, salt and butter. It's also a good idea to keep an assortment of dried fruits like cranberries, raisins, cherries and apricots. As far as nut selection goes, if you have peanuts, almonds, pecans, walnuts and hazelnuts on hand you'll be able to make a great selection of nut treats.

There are so many different treats that can be made with nuts, including healthy treats, that it can be hard to decide where to start. Why not choose your favorite nut and start with a simple recipe and see where inspiration takes you?

Another fun treat idea is candied pecans or another favorite type of candied nuts. Try this fun candied pecans recipe for your next gathering or simply for an at home snack.

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Dried Fruit - Nature's Candy


If you are craving something sweet, don't reach for the candy just yet. Consider trying dried fruit as a tasty (and more healthy) alternative.

There is a wide variety of dried fruit, coming from both vines and trees.

Dried Fruit

Examples of Dried Fruits:



















Benefits of Dried Fruit:

-An antioxidant (especially prunes and blueberries)

-High in fibre

-High in Vitamin A, phosphorus, calcium, iron, magnesium, copper, potassium and sodium

-Slows progression of heart disease

-Contains heart-protecting Omega-3 and Omega 6 fatty acids

-A lightweight and portable snack

-They store well. Six months to a year in an airtight container

-They are neat. Not like eating a juicy peach on your lunch break!

-Dried cranberries have an acid that protects against urinary tract infections (UTIs)

-Orange and yellow fruits (apricot, mango and peaches) have high levels of beta-carotene

-Raisins lower bad (LDL) cholesterol, have lots of fiber and contain tartaric acid, which protects against colon cancer.

Disadvantages of Dried Fruit:

-The drying process results in a high concentration of sugar and calories. They should always be enjoyed in moderation.

-Sometimes sugar is added to balance the natural tarty taste.

-Sulphates are added to certain fruits to keep them from darkening.

-The drying process can deplete vitamin C content

-Promotes tooth decay

Dried fruits are great on their own, in cereals and in baked treats. They also make a typical meal more exciting and presentable. With any food, moderation is key. You would not want to give up your fresh, frozen and canned fruits altogether but adding more variety to your diet is the path to eating right and enjoying every healthy meal so much, you won't even miss the food that is bad for you.

Eat Up!

Dried Fruit - Nature's Candy

Kaleena Lawless is a personal trainer in Toronto, On

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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Fruits and Vegetables - Heart Protective


"Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food." Hippocrates

Higher consumption of fruits and vegetables has been associated with improved cardiovascular outcomes. In one clinical trial, published in the June 19, 2001, edition of the Annals of Internal Medicine, subjects in the highest quintile of fruit and vegetable consumption had a 20% reduction in relative risk of coronary heart disease as compared with the quintile with the lowest intake. Most of this benefit was related to green leafy vegetables and vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables.

Data from two major studies, the Nurses' Health study with 71,910 enrolled women (1984) and the Health Professionals' Follow-up Study with 37,725 enrolled men (1986) was published in the Nov. 3, 2004 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. At baseline, all participants were free of major chronic disease. In both studies, fruit and vegetable intake was inversely associated with the development of major chronic diseases and cardiovascular disease. The reduction in cardiovascular disease was also noted in smokers.

Results of the Life Span Study, an ongoing study of 40,349 persons exposed and not exposed to radiation from Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings was published in the October 2003 issue of Stroke. Daily consumption of green or yellow vegetables and fruits ( irrespective of other factors in both groups ) was associated with a protective effect for total stroke, and cerebral infarction mortality in both men and women. Risk reduction for bleeding inside the brain, called intracerebral hemorrhage, was 32% in men and 30% in women

"For optimum health, scientists say, eat a rainbow of colors. Your plate should look like a box of Crayolas." Janice M. Horowitz, TIME, January 12, 2002. Colored fruits and vegetables are loaded with antioxidants. Blue/purple fruits and vegetables like blueberries, purple grapes, beetroot, eggplant and plums contain health-promoting phytochemicals such as anthocyanins and phenolics. Green vegetables like green grapes, broccoli, green peppers, spinach, green cabbage, peas and green beans contain phytochemicals such as lutein and indoles. White, tan, and brown fruits and vegetables such as bananas, cauliflower, garlic, onions, mushrooms and potatoes contain varying amounts of phytochemicals including allicin and selenium. Yellow and orange fruits and vegetables such as mangoes, papaya, lemon, carrots, pumpkin, apricots, sweet corn and yellow squash contain antioxidants such as vitamin C as well as carotenoids and bioflavonoids. Red fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, cherries, pomegranates, raspberries, strawberries, watermelon, radishes and beets contain health promoting lycopene and anthocyanins. Besides antioxidant activity, fruits and vegetables also help lower blood pressure and provide fiber. Soluble fiber in fruits and vegetables helps block the absorption of cholesterol from food.

"I drink 6 or seven glasses of water a day. I also drink vegetable juice. And I have at least 5 or 6 pieces of fresh fruit everyday and 10 raw vegetables." Fitness Guru Jack LaLanne. The US Food Guide Pyramid recommends three to five servings of vegetables and two to four servings of fruit per day. A vegetable serving is any one of the following: 1/2 cup chopped raw, non-leafy vegetables, 1 cup of leafy, raw vegetables, 1/2 cup cooked vegetables. 1/2 cup cooked beans, peas, or lentils, 1 small baked potato or 3/4 cup vegetable juice. A fruit serving is any one of the following: 1 medium raw fruit, 1/2 grapefruit, mango, or papaya, 3/4 cup juice, 1/2 cup berries or cut-up fruit, 1/2 cup canned, frozen, or cooked fruit or 1/4 cup dried fruit.

Eating fruits and vegetables are associated with other benefits too. Good intake has been shown guard against cataract and macular degeneration, two common causes of vision loss and afflicting millions of Americans over age sixty-five. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables may also have a cancer-preventive effect. Consumption has been associated with a reduced rate of cancers of the mouth and pharynx, esophagus, stomach, colon-rectum, larynx, lung, ovary , bladder, and kidney. It is estimated that one third of all cancer deaths in the United States could be avoided through appropriate dietary modification. Besides soluble fiber, fruits and vegetables also contain indigestible fiber. This sops up water like a sponge and expands when it passes through the digestive tract. This helps regulate bowel movements and can relieve or prevent constipation. Insoluble fiber also may help prevent diverticulosis and diverticulitis. Recent data suggests that fruits and vegetables can also fight the functional decline with aging and delay the onset of Alzhiemer's disease.

" I did enough research to realize that the healthiest way to live (and lose weight) is to eat a whole-foods diet of mostly vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes and whole grains; to avoid dairy, meat and sugar; and to cut back on processed foods " Actress Marilu Henner. Vegetables and fruits are best eaten fresh, preferably grown organically in your own garden. The next best choice is frozen produce. Modern freezing methods preserve the healthy nutrients, so frozen fruit and vegetables can be better than fresh produce that has been left out at room temperature for a long time. Cooking is necessary for some vegetables, as it weakens the cell wall, increasing the bioavailability. Avoid overcooking, as it may destroy vitamins and minerals. Microwaving, steaming or stir-frying in just a little polyunsaturated or monounsaturated oil, like olive or canola, is a healthier choice. The risk from pesticides can be reduced by washing the produce before consumption. This will also remove most of the micro-organisms that cause food poisoning.

"By eating fruits and vegetables from each color group, you will benefit from the unique array of phytochemicals, as well as essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber that each color group has to offer." Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, National Cancer Institute. Because each different fruit and vegetable group contains different phytochemicals, one color fruit group is not enough. You get the best health protection by eating regularly from each color group. Just add a different fruit and/or vegetable to all meals and snacks and you will be able to meet your daily requirements. Phytochemicals in whole foods such as fruits and vegetables appear to have additive and synergistic effects, leading to cardiovascular protection. This benefit unfortunately does not appear to work with pills or extracts.

Dr. Shashi K. Agarwal is a Board Certified Internist and Cardiologist with a private practice in New York City and New Jersey. He is also a Diplomate of the American Board of Holistic Medicine and the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine.

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Quality Specialty Tea Blends Offer Enhanced Flavor Profiles


Blending is a process of blending different teas together to enhance the flavors and create a new or favored flavor profile. Tea blends can be blends from different growing regions or leaves can be blended with herbs, dried fruits and fruit zest and flowers. Perfumes, flavorants and essential oils are often added to add flavor and aroma.

Black Blends

Dried Fruit

Breakfast teas are blends of different black teas that together are more robust and full-bodied in flavor than the individual;eaves. English Breakfast, Irish Breakfast and Scottish Breakfast are all popular blends of robust black teas.

Afternoon blends are also blends of black tea. These blends tend to be lighter in flavor than breakfast blends. Breakfast and Afternoon Tea are often enjoyed at any time of day.

Flower Blends

Jasmine tea is a well know blend of green le with jasmine flowers, resulting in a delicious brew that is mildly flavored and scented by the jasmine flowers. The jasmine flowers are usually removed after the their flavor and scent have been absorbed.

Chrysanthemum tea is often pure chrysanthemum flowers, although sometimes the blend contains black or green tea leaves.

Herbal and Fruit Blends

An herb that is commonly blended with tea is mint. Mint is often used alone as an herbal tisane, or blended with black tea. Fresh mint is often used as a garnish as well.

Dried fruit and fruit zests are popular. Citrus zests combined with cinnamon and spices are popular in "Russian" blends. Bits of dried cherry, mango, cranberry, peach and other fruits are often combined with tea leaves and spices.

Spice Blends

Spices are often blended with tea, especially in Indian, African and Middle Eastern cultures. Chai and Thai Tea are popular spice blends. Spices used most often include ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, cassia, black pepper, clove, anise, fennel, bay leaf, nutmeg, mace and vanilla.

Most blends are made with black leaves, but green blends are becoming popular because of their additional health benefits. White tea can be easily overpowered by strong flavors, so it is used with only very delicate flavor blends.

Look for Quality Specialty Blends

Blending tea with these flavor enhancers is a common technique used to boost the flavor of poor quality leaves, so it is important to know that you are purchasing from a high quality purveyor. Often these blends will sell at a premium over the cost of the individual leaves, so you want to get the quality you are paying for.

Quality Specialty Tea Blends Offer Enhanced Flavor Profiles

Diane Watkins is a traditional southern style cook, writer and educator. She enjoys cooking, teaching, and writing about good food and family.

For more information on tea, visit All About Tea

For more information on southern cooking and recipes for everything you need to complete a traditional style holiday meal, visit her website Easy Southern Cooking.

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Friday, January 28, 2011

Foods To Consider For An Acid Reflux Diet


This is some general advice if you are going to be following an acid reflux diet. Eating large meals and eating just before going to bed are not recommended when you are on an acid reflux diet. You are also supposed to avoid fat and/or spicy foods. All of these habits can lead to the increased production of stomach acid that may enter and cause damage to the esophagus. This is particularly true if the closing muscles do not work as they should. The consequence is that you end up with permanent heartburn.

There are many foods to consider when you are speaking about an acid reflux diet. There are foods that should be avoided, foods that can be consumed in moderation and foods that one can definitely have. The first section of the acid reflux diet will deal with the foods that are to be avoided:

Fruit - Lemon, orange juice, lemonade, cranberry juice, tomato and grapefruit juice

Vegetables - Mashed potatoes, raw onion and French fries

Meat - Ground beef or chuck, chicken nuggets, marbled sirloin, buffalo wings

Dairy - Milk shake, sour cream, ice cream and regular cottage cheese

Grains - Spaghetti with sauce and macaroni and cheese

Beverages - Wine, liquor, all coffee whether decaffeinated or regular, all tea whether decaffeinated or regular

Fats/oils - creamy salad dressings, oil and vinegar salad dressing

Sweets/desserts - Chocolate, butter cookies, high-fat, brownies, doughnut, potato chips that are fried and corn chips

The next list of foods are considered to be safe foods if you are on an acid reflux diet:

Fruit - fresh apple, dried apple, banana, apple juice, pineapple, papaya( these help to neutralize stomach acid)

Vegetables - carrots, baked potato, broccoli, cabbage, peas, green beans

Meat - extra-lean ground beef, skinless chicken breast, London Broil steak, fish with no added fat, egg whites, egg substitutes

Dairy - feta or goat cheese, fat-free sour cream, fat-free cream cheese, low-fat soy cheese

Grains - Corn bread, multi-grain or white bread, graham crackers, bran or oatmeal cereal, pretzels, brown or white rice, rice cakes

Beverages - Mineral water

Fats/oils - low-fat salad dressings

Sweets/desserts - fat-free cookies, red licorice, jelly beans, baked potato chips

The following foods are to be consumed in moderation when you are following an acid reflux diet:

Fruit - low-acid orange juice, peach, apple cider, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, dried cranberries, grapes

Vegetables - onion that is cooked, garlic, leeks, scallions, sauerkraut

Meat - lean ground beef, scrambled eggs in butter, chicken salad, fried eggs, tuna salad, fried fish, beef or pork hot dogs, ham

Dairy - Yogurt, frozen yogurt, 2% or skim milk, low-fat cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese, cheddar cheese

Grains - Granola cereal, garlic bread, muffin

Beverages - Non-alcoholic wine, non-alcoholic beer, cola, beer, root beer

Fats/oils - Ketchup

Sweets/desserts - low-fat cookie

This is by no means a comprehensive list of the foods that you can consume and avoid on an acid reflux diet but it is a start. When you find that your reflux disease is somewhat under control, then perhaps you can slowly add a food from the forbidden list to see how you will react to it. If it makes your acid reflux worse, then you know to avoid that food for good.

Get the latest on acid reflux by visiting - a website that offers information and articles on acid reflux along with its symptoms and cures like the acid reflux diet.

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Water Kefir Grains Vs Milk Kefir Grains


If you are familiar with milk kefir grains, you might be wondering what water kefir grains are, and how they differ. They both have a similar symbiosis of bacteria and yeast that ferment a sugary liquid at room temperature into a healthy probiotic beverage, however they are not the same grain. The milk kefir grains use milk; whereas, water kefir grains use a sugar-water mix, typically supplemented with dried fruit. Milk grains look like soft opaque curds of cauliflower heads while water kefir grains looks like tiny semi-transparent crystal gems.

Milk and water kefir share some common strains of bacteria and yeast, but they also have many unique strains. People occasionally have some measure of success fermenting milk with water kefir grains or vise versa temporarily, however the grains never convert or physically change to be the other culture.

Dried Fruit

Water kefir grains ferment at room temperature typically for about 48 hours (compared to 24 for milk). A good rule of thumb is that for every tablespoon of grains, you need about 1 tablespoon of any kind of sugar (white, brown, raw, or a mix) and about 1 cup of water. Simply add a couple pieces of dried fruit for more flavor and nutrients (for the grains and yourself). You can also add in some fresh lemon if desired. In 48 hours you'll have a delicious, refreshing and healthy probiotic drink.

One thing to keep in mind is that a big portion of the sugar is broken down and converted by the grains into acids, carbonation, small amounts of alcohol and other nutritious by-products. The actual sugar content and GL is lowered once it is ready to drink. It should taste mildly sweet and tangy when its done (never like plain sugar water). Longer ferments will also reduce the sugar content further. Water kefir can be a great choice for the sugar-conscious and even sometimes suitable for some diabetics.

You might be wondering what it tastes like. Water Kefir has a wonderful mildly zesty flavor, and can be likened to a natural, light and refreshing soda. It is more mild than milk kefir or kombucha, having just a light tang (but can build more carbonation and tang if bottled for a short time). The dried fruit, lemon, type of sugar and other ingredients will largely determine its flavor as well. When bottling you can vary it up and be creative with any new flavor or find your own personal favorite combination to stick with.

Water Kefir Grains Vs Milk Kefir Grains

Water Kefir Grains are a great alternative or addition to milk kefir. They're economical, healthy, delicious and fun to experiment with. Most times the grains themselves out-live their owners.

For more information on Kefir and other cultures, including the biggest FAQ available on the web, swing over to

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Amla - The Wonder Fruit


The botanical name of Amla or the Indian gooseberry is Phyllanthus emblica. Taxonomically, it belongs to the family Euphorbiaceae. It has a sour, bitter, and astringent taste. It is also rich in fiber. The fruit, available in the autumn season, can be eaten fresh or in dried form. It is also available in the form of juice. In Ayurveda, it is believed that amla balances the humors vata (wind) and kapha (phlegm) and also controls pitta (bile). Amla is a very important ingredient in Ayurvedic and Unani medicinal formulations.

Amla is the richest source of vitamin C. It has 30% more vitamin C than an orange. Many vitamins and minerals like calcium, phosphorus, iron, carotene, and vitamin B complex are also found in amla. It contains tannin, which is responsible for preserving the nutrients in the dried form. Amla is a strong antioxidant agent. Due to its antioxidant property, amla prevents the oxidation of harmful free radicals that are produced in our body. This property plays a very important role in anti-aging and cancer prevention.

The Indian Gooseberry is well known for its anti-inflammatory properties. It reduces inflammation of various tissues of the body, including the joints and is also beneficial in the treatment of fevers. Amla juice improves eyesight and reduces the intraocular tension.; It makes the heart muscles strong and controls the blood sugar levels in diabetic patients. This fruit is very high in its fiber content, which helps in relieving constipation and regulating bowel movements.

The fruit is a stress buster and is useful in treating insomnia. Besides having a very cool and soothing effect on our body, it is also known to strengthen the lungs, improve fertility, and build up the immunity against numerous diseases. It acts as a very good aliment against sunburns, sun stroke, and urinary tract infections.

Amla acts as a natural astringent and exfoliating agent, which makes your skin look younger. It can tighten the skin and reduce sagging. It also prevents hair loss and premature graying, whilst improving the growth, thickness, color, and luster of your hair, at the same time. Amla helps in calcium absorption, thereby helping in the maintenance and formation of bones, teeth, and nails. Hence, it wouldn't be wrong to say "An amla a day can keep the doctor away."

Get diet tips, free diet plan also read more articles on diet and nutrition and Health Care only on India's best health portal

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Find A Christmas Fruit Cake You Enjoy


People have many and varied opinions on what sort of fruit cake they like for their Christmas cake. Some people even cook a dark fruit cake even though they are not personally particularly fond of them. Although I like a piece of dark fruit cake, I am more partial to having a lighter fruit cake in my home. Perhaps you would like to change this year and make a different fruit cake for Christmas.

Christmas is one of the most fun filled festive seasons of the year, and you just don't want to pass by it without a mouth watering fruit cake Christmas recipe. Fruit cake Christmas recipe is one of the most deliciously kept secret recipes of all moms and grandmothers and they just won't let them out to you. These cakes have been around for centuries, and today you might find varieties of them in the different households.

Dried Fruit

Getting a recipe from my mum was a work of art. You had to sit beside her while she added the ingredients to the mixture because it was a bit of that, a handful of that, a cup of this and so on. Although she had some written recipes, very rarely did she ever stick to them, but oh, my, could she cook.

Making a Christmas cake is a matter of being prepared. Making sure that you have all the right ingredients and prepare ahead. Cakes that have a lot of fruit in them, you will find, often have the fruit soaked over night in a liqueur or something similar and if this is the case, then you need to make sure you have everything on hand the day before you want to bake the cake. They are one of the simplest recipes that you might have come across, and all you need is a little organizing before you get started on it. Be it dried fruit, candied fruit, fruit rind, nuts, spices with liquor or brandy, these cakes simply make a yummy moist, dense, heavy cake.

There are two basic types of fruit cake Christmas recipe:

Light Fruitcake: The term light just refers to the way it looks because all the ingredients put into them make the cake light in appearance once it is cooked. Ingredients like granulated sugar, almonds, light corn syrup, pineapple, golden raisins and apricots are seen on the cake, which makes it look colorful and appetizing.

Dark Fruitcake: You guessed it. It is the darker ingredients like brown sugar, molasses, dark raisins, dates, prunes and walnuts that make the cake look dark when it is cooked. All these ingredients make the cake look very heavy, moist and dense. Some people love this lavish treat while the others resort to the lighter version.

Cakes are best made two months in advance if possible, so that it can mature and taste delicious at Christmas. After Christmas you can wrap it and store them in the fridge, provided that you take them out every month and sprinkle some liquor on them.

Decorate your Christmas cake and enjoy sharing with family and friends.

Find A Christmas Fruit Cake You Enjoy

Kaye Dennan has been in commercial catering for many years and has a strong understand about what is need for a successful Christmas gathering. For valuable tips and information on Christmas entertaining and best of all, for hundreds of recipes visit where you will be able to find the answers to your Christmas recipe problems.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Goji Berries- The Longevity Fruit


Goji (pronounced go-gee) berry food products are quite the rage these days. They seem to be popping up everywhere, as either an ingredient in trail mix or crunch bars or alone as a juice, tea or dried fruit. Goji berries, or wolfberries as they are sometimes called, are far from a new food, though, having been used for centuries in Chinese medicine to cure a variety of ailments.

The nickname "Longevity Fruit" comes from the fact that in Northern China where the availability and consumption of the fruit is high, there are over 16 times the number of people over 100 years old as compared to the rest of the country. These centenarians tend to be much healthier and more active than their counterparts in Western culture.

Ancient folklore has it that a Chinese man who ate Goji berries lived to the ripe old age of 252 years! No wonder its known as the "Longevity Fruit"! One source has also coined the nickname "Hallelujah Berry."

Well, is there any truth to these claims?

As is the case with many herbal and dietary supplements, sufficient scientific evidence to prove therapeutic benefits is not available yet.

Here's what is known: Goji berries are nutritious foods that are considered pretty safe for everyone except for pregnant or lactating women. (They should avoid consuming Goji berries until more is known about how this food actually works in the body.)

It is recommended that individuals limit their consumption of Goji fruit to 10 - 30g per day, due to the selenium content which can be toxic at high intake levels.

It is believed that Goji berries may act to lower blood glucose, thus it is recommended that other herbs and supplements known to reduce blood sugar, such as ginger, kudzu and fenugreek, should not be consumed along with Goji berries in order to prevent hypoglycemia. As a precautionary measure, herbs such as ginger, ginseng, turmeric and valerian should also not be taken along with Goji fruits because of a possible combined anti-hypertensive effect.

Just how nutritious are Goji berries?

Consider this. Goji berries are rich sources of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. By weight, they contain 68% carbohydrate, 12% protein, 10% fat and 10% fiber, with 370 calories per 100g. They also contain 33 minerals, 18 amino acids and 6 vitamins.

Want more specifics? Take a look at these impressive facts:

Nutrient Content per 100g dried fruit*

Calcium 112 mg

Potassium 1132 mg

Iron 9 mg

Zinc 2 mg

Selenium .05 mg

Riboflavin 1.3 mg

Vitamin C varies, 2 -100 mg

Beta-carotene 7 mg

Zeaxanthin varies, 25-200 mg


This fruit is so good for you it must taste awful, right? Wrong. Goji berries have a flavor that is quite pleasing, like cranberries, raspberries and strawberries all wrapped up together.

Before you run out to the health foods store to buy some, keep in mind that Goji berry food products can be quite expensive. It is not unheard of for a 32 ounce bottle of 100% juice to cost $13 or more.

If you are willing to pay the price, tap into the nutritional powerhouse contained in Goji berries, maybe you'll live to be 252, too!

Sue Roberts, MPH MS RD/CN is a certified nutritionist and registered dietitian.

Get a copy of her free ebook, "The Secrets of Weight Loss Supplements: What You Need to Know" at .

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Does Fruit Make You Fat?


When dieting, or just trying to eat healthy many people try to stick to fruits and vegetables for their snacks. However, many of the fab diets don't allow you to eat fruit because of its glycemic load, or sugar. So what's the deal? Compared to many unhealthy alternative snacks, fruits are a great choice and fruits are the healthiest way to take in sugar, however you do need to understand that many fruits are in fact very high in sugar and if you are trying to lose weight, you may want to limit some of them. Fresh fruits are a great snack and are filled with vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants, so you don't want to just cut them out of your diet. It is recommended that the average adult takes in 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, or according to the USDA take in 1.5-2 cups of fruit each day. So which fruits are best to give you the vitamins and nutrients and what's too much?? Here are a couple tips to remember when picking your snack:

Avoid dried fruit; The process of drying the fruit concentrates the sugar.
Avoid fruit juices, as most of the nutrients are lost in the processing, and often more sugar is even added .
Many people are realizing that the typical fruit juices for kids aren't the best choice for their children. Try to get your kids to drink more water, and if you do give them fruit juices, water it down first.
Try to avoid fruits high in sugar.

Dried Fruit

Check out the following list when choosing your fruit:

Fruits LOWEST in sugar:

Fruits with Low to Medium amounts of sugar:
-Honeydew Melon

Fruits HIGH in sugar:

For more on health, fitness, nutrition, exercises and workouts go to

Does Fruit Make You Fat?

Christine Maale, Doctorate of Physical Therapy

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Baking Without Gluten - Cake Recipes for Celiac Sufferers


Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease, often genetically inherited, in which the sufferers are intolerant of gluten. Celiac disease is caused by an abnormal reaction to gliadin, which is a gluten protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. The only cure is abstinence from gluten, which means that a whole new method of eating has to be learned.

It can be said that if celiac sufferers avoid flour, they will be fine. Although this is simplistic, it is not far wrong. But celiac sufferers have birthdays and celebrations the same as anyone else. And that means they may want a cake now and then, even while avoiding flour.

It is possible to bake without flour and there is a whole range of products on the market for gluten-free alternatives. However, for various reasons, the products may not be viable alternatives: they may not be available locally; or they may be priced beyond your budget. For many people, adapting regular recipes has to be the answer. For those who wish to adapt mainstream recipes, I have provided a few recipes below.

Rice Pudding Cake

Despite its name, it is a firm and heavy moist cake, and it is full of flavor. It is firm enough to cut into large slices. I did not develop this recipe it was given to me over twenty years ago by a friend in Western Australia. Her daughter was gluten intolerant. It is still one of the nicest gluten-free cakes I have ever tasted.


3 cups cooked rice

4 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup demerara sugar

2 medium bananas, mashed

2 apples, finely chopped or grated

1 pear grated

500g (1 pound) cottage cheese

2 cups mixed dried fruit

1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped

1/2 cup almonds or brazil nuts, roughly chopped grated rind of one large orange

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon all spice

Heat oven until 2200 C, 4000 F


Combine everything and mix well, and place in a greased bundt tin or a fluted ring tin to give the hole in the center. Bake for about half an hour until firm and cooked through. When a skewer comes out clean, the cake is cooked. Cool in the tin, refrigerate for a few hours, and then serve with cream.

Flourless Black Forest Gateaux

Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream, or simply dusted with icing sugar. To keep this recipe totally flour free dust the tin with cacao.



4 (1 ounce) squares semisweet chocolate, chopped

1/2 cup butter

3/4 cup white sugar

1/2 cup cocoa powder

3 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


a jar of Morello or Sweet cherries in natural juice.

1 Tub of thick whipping cream.

Preheat oven to 3000degrees F or 1500 degrees C.


Grease an oblong Swiss roll tin, or a jelly pan and dust with cocoa powder. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over boiling water, but do not let the bowl touch the water. When the chocolate is melted, add the butter. Remove from heat, and stir in sugar, cocoa powder, eggs, and vanilla. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Place powdered sugar or cocoa powder on a piece of kitchen paper and place the cake on it. Drain the jar of morello cherries and whip the cream until it holds its shape; then add the cherries. Place on top of the cake and roll up like a roll. Top with grated chocolate and serve with cream.

Healthy Fruit Cake

This recipe makes an excellent cutting cake. To make a 11/2 lb cake in an 8" tin:


1 large banana, as green as possible

1 large carrot, peeled and grated

2 eggs 100 ml olive oil

4 oz (100g)granulated sugar

1 table spoon of black treacle/ molasses

8 oz (200g)gluten free flour mix

1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar

1 level teaspoon of mixed spice

1 level teaspoon of ground ginger

1 level teaspoon of cinnamon

8 oz (200g) mixed dried fruit

several glace cherries green and red

Preheated oven, 350°F or 180°C


Beat the banana and carrot to a smooth puree with the olive oil, sugar and egg in a food processor. Add the flour and beat in. Add the treacle, spices, and raising agents and beat in. Add the fruit and beat in. Pour the mixture immediately into a deep 8" cake or 2 lb loaf tin lined with a layer of non-stick baking paper. Bake for 11/4 to 11/2 hours.

Chocolate Almond Gateau



110g/4oz best-quality dark chocolate (70 percent cocoa solids)

2 tablespoons white rum 110g/4oz whole almonds

110g/4oz butter, preferably unsalted

110g/4oz caster sugar, plus 1 tbsp extra, to mix with the egg whites

3 eggs, preferably free-range, separated

For the chocolate icing:

110g (4oz) best-quality dark chocolate (70 percent cocoa solids)

2 Tablespoons white rum

110g/4oz unsalted butter

To decorate:

crystallized violets

flaked almonds

You will also need 2 x 18cm/7in sandwich tins.


Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Line the base of each of the tins with greaseproof paper. Brush the bottom and sides with melted butter and dust with a little rice flour. Melt the chocolate with the rum in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water or in a low oven. Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil and add the almonds. Bring back to the boil for 2-3 minutes and then test an almond to see if the skin is loose. Drain the almonds, peel and discard the skins. Grind the whole almonds in a food processor until they are slightly gritty.

Cream the butter and add the sugar. Beat until pale, light and soft. Beat in the egg yolks, one by one. Whisk the egg whites until stiff. Add the extra tablespoon of sugar and continue to whisk until stiff peaks form, then add the melted chocolate to the butter and sugar mixture. Divide the prepared almonds into four portions. Add one portion to the creamed mixture. Fold in a quarter of the egg white, followed by more almonds. Fold in the remaining eggs and almonds alternately until they have all been added. Divide the mixture between the two prepared tins and make a hollow in the center of each cake. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. The sides should be cooked but the center still a little unset. Leave to cool for a few minutes in the tins; them remove them from the tin. Allow the cake to cool completely before frosting.

To make the icing, melt the chocolate with the rum in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water or in a low oven. Whisk in the butter, a tablespoon at a time, until melted. Remove from the heat and whisk occasionally until cool. If the icing seems too runny, put the bowl in the fridge and allow to firm up. Whisk to lighten and then use. When the cake is completely cold, fill and ice with the chocolate mixture. (If you want to cover the sides and pipe a border around the top, make 11/2 times the quantity of icing.) Decorate with flaked almonds and crystallized violets.

Tia Maria and Chocolate Cheesecake

Rice does not contain gluten and the Asian food stores have rice cakes which are gluten free.



125g (4oz) rice cakes

50 g (1 1/2oz) butter, melted


2 teaspoons powdered gelatin

11/2 tablespoons hot water

125ml (4oz) cream, whipped 375g

(12oz) cream cheese

1 tablespoon castor sugar (powdered sugar)

200g condensed milk

1 tablespoon of orange zest

100 ml Tia Maria or a liquor of your choice


60g (2oz) dark chocolate, melted


Mix the crushed rice cookies and melted butter and press on to the base and sides of your chosen container.

Dissolve the gelatin in hot water, and let stand. Blend the cream cheese and the sugar, add the condensed milk, and the liquor. Whip the cream until it holds its shape and fold into the cheese mixture, fold in the gelatin. Melt the chocolate either in the microwave on half power or in a bowl over hot water. Make certain the bottom of the bowl is not in contact with the water as it will be grainy. Add the orange zest and then add to the cheese mixture. You can swirl it in to give a marbled effect of combine it to look paler like coffee. Pour the mixture into the crust and chill for a few hours. Serve with cream.

Orange Almond Cake with Orange Sauce

A moist and light orange flavored cake that can be served alone with a light yogurt for afternoon tea, or add the orange sauce for a decadent dessert!



3 eggs, separated

2/3 cup white sugar

1/4 cup rice flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup orange juice

1 tablespoon of orange zest

1 1/2 cups finely ground almonds

Orange Sauce:

2 tablespoons heavy cream

2 cups white sugar

1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

2 tablespoon grated orange zest

1/2 cup butter

4 egg whites

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease a 10 inch springform pan with cooking spray, and dust with rice flour.


In a large bowl, whip egg yolks with 2/3 cup of the sugar until thick and pale. This will take about 5 minutes with an electric beater, and it is ready when the beater is taken out of the batter and it leaves a trail. Stir in the rice flour the orange juice, the orange zest, and then fold in the almond meal and cinnamon.

In a separate glass or metal bowl, with absolutely no trace of fat, whip 3 egg whites until they hold a stiff peak: they will not incorporate any air at all if there is fat or egg yolk in the bowl. Fold into the almond mixture until well blended. Pour into the prepared pan, and spread evenly.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack.

To make the orange sauce, cream together the butter and 2 cups of white sugar in a medium bowl. Stir in the cream, and place the dish over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir in orange juice and zest. Whip 4 egg whites in a separate bowl until soft peaks form. Fold into the orange sauce. Spoon over the cake and serve immediately.

Catherine Ford writes for, a site providing resources for senior health and other issues important to people over fifty and their families.

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Wine Tasting Appetizer Ideas


So you want to host a wine tasting party? And you want your event to be as fun and educational as possible, right? Well as much as some people like to focus just on wine alone, food and wine are a match made in heaven. Besides, when people start drinking wine and the fun discussion begins, people tend to get hungry. So even if you are not hosting a full wine dinner party, your wine tasting will be much more of a success if you have fun and delicious foods available for your guests to snack on. While simple crackers and/or bread may be enough just to cleanse your palate between flights of wines, even a small selection of more interesting wine tasting appetizers can really bring your humble event to a whole new level.

Tip 1: Try to pair your wine tasting appetizers to the theme of the wine tasting. In other words, don't pair heavy sausage stuffed mushrooms if you and your guests are tasting light, delicate white wines. Try to pair the food to the wine theme. If you are tasting several types of wine, then provide a selection of appetizers.

Dried Fruit

Tip 2: Don't get too formal. Unless you love to cook, try not to overwhelm yourself with complicated foods. Start with simple snacks that are easy to prepare or take no preparation. If you are not serving a full dinner, then try to keep it simple. Put out several plates of finger foods and encourage guests to help themselves.

Some specific wine tasting appetizer ideas: Below is a list of some classic finger food appetizers which are perfect for a wine tasting event. They are generally easy to prepare and can be simply placed on the table for guests to help themselves. They are also pretty versatile, pairing well with many types of wine. Beyond these, get creative. There are no rules so if you have a favorite appetizer that you like to make, throw that out for your guests to enjoy as well. The only tip I have about choosing dishes is to avoid very spicy foods or odd, pungent flavors which may clash with many wines. The ideas below start with the most simple and easy to prepare and continue through some more involved appetizers that require a small amount of preparation.

Bread and/or Crackers: Sliced bread, such as a French Baguette or Batard, and/or simple crackers are a great basic food to have available at every wine tasting. Besides being necessary to serve some soft cheeses or other spreads, they are filling and a good neutral snack to cleanse your palate between wines. Cured Olives: Most fine supermarkets now carry excellent selections of cured olives. These are extremely easy. Simply serve them in some bowl or dish and be sure to supply an empty bowl for discarded pits. There are several varieties to choose from. Try to avoid very spicy or salty ones as these can interfere with the tasting of wine. Nuts and Dried Fruit: It is very common to see a selection of dried nuts and/or dried fruit slices as wine tasting appetizers, served alone or alongside olives or a cheese plate. In fact, many nuts accompany cheeses beautifully and are neutral flavored enough to accompany many wines. Spanish Marcona almonds and walnuts are great choices, as are dried apricot slices. Try to avoid very sweet fruits, particularly if you are drinking dry table wines. Cheese Plate: Cheese and wine can be absolutely delicious. You can provide a selection of fine cheeses on a cheese plate, accompanied by knives or forks for firm cheeses and a spreading knife and bread for softer cheeses. Try to pair the cheese with the types of wines you are serving. If you can, find cheeses from the same regions as the wines. Short of that, try to choose more mild flavored cheeses with lighter wines and richer, more pungent cheeses with more full-flavored wines. While very rich, pungent or stinky cheeses can be delicious with rich wines, their strong aroma may detract from being able to appreciate the subtleties of the wines at the tasting. Sliced Cured Sausages and Meats: Dried sausages and other charcuterie can be another easy and delicious accompaniment to a wine tasting. There are dozens to choose from. French saucisson sec, Italian salami, Pâté, terrines, Prosciutto, and many others are all delicious, easy to serve and a fine appetizer to accompany a wine tasting. Bruschetta: Bruschetta is a simple Italian finger food appetizer usually consisting of slices of toasted bread topped with various chopped accompaniments such as tomatoes, shallots, cheese, garlic, and/or olive oil. There are many variations but most recipes are quite simple and quick to make. To make it a bit richer to accompany heavier red wines, add sautéed mushrooms or meats such as Prosciutto or bacon to kick up the flavor a notch. Tapenade: Tapenade is a puréed olive dish usually consisting of olives, herbs, anchovies, garlic and olive oil. Because it is made by blending the ingredients in a food processor, this spread is quite easy and quick. It's also delicious! Make a big batch and serve in a big serving bowl along with bread or crackers to spread it on.

Wine Tasting Appetizer Ideas

Josh Dusick is the editor of the Wine Tastings Guide at where you can get information about how to host a wine tasting party, how to serve and taste wine and even about pairing wine and food.

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Top 5 Alkaline Fruits & Their Benefits


Over eighty percent of ones food should comprise of fruits and vegetables if the normal slightly alkaline body ph is to be maintained. A normal body ph of 7.4 has many benefits. Not only does it help to prevent illnesses but also assists in curing them. With an alkaline ph the life span can be increased too. There are many kinds of alkaline fruits and vegetable one can have. Below is a list of the five top fruits that are alkaline.

Figs are the top form of alkaline fruits. Figs have in them several qualities and help tremendously in alkalizing the body. They can be eaten raw or can be added to any recipe. Dried figs are also alkaline and one can even add then to half a glass of warm water to hydrate them. But since figs are laxative fruits also it is advisable to not have more than a handful in a day.

Another fruit that is alkaline is the apple. An apple a day actually does keep the doctor away, and if the doctor is good looking, well in that case too do not do away with the apple, simply get his number. Apples are not only loved for their taste but can be consumed in various forms. Cut an apple into small square shapes add a little bit of iodine sea salt and lemon and mix well. A tangy flavored apple dish is ready. Apples pies smell lovely and this alkaline fruit is used even as a Halloween sweet when dipped in chocolate. Apples are most commonly consumed raw and that is the best way to have this fruit while keeping all their nutrients intact.

Third on the list of fruits that are alkaline are all kinds of sweet grapes. Grapes are easy to carry and consume. They do not involve much chopping and cleaning. What is more is that this fruit is a favorite with kids and one does not have to run behind them to make them eat some grapes. Just leave a bowl full of grapes lying around while the kids are playing and soon they will all be gone. Even though raisins are derived from grapes it is best to consume alkaline fruits that are fresh and thoroughly cleaned as opposed to processed alkaline fruits. All the same not only raisins but all dried fruits are alkaline fruits and can be consumed without fear.

If you have ever gotten stitches or broken a bone then for sure bananas must have been recommended for faster healing. This is because apart from being high in calcium bananas are also alkaline fruits. Since fruits that are alkaline help keep the alkaline ph balance of the body they help in the healing process.

For that peachy looking skin and glowing hair have a lot of peaches. Peaches are alkaline fruits and help to give the skin and hair a healthy glow. People who suffer from brittle nails will also find that having fruits that are alkaline helps make their nails stronger. So leave the cream bit out of those peaches and creams and enjoy the fruit for what it is.

Alkaline fruits are very healthy and nutritious. A sweet flavor is a good indicator of an alkaline fruit. These fruits should make up large parts of a persons daily food intake.

Discover How Alkaline Foods Work and Why Eating Alkaline Ash Foods Is Highly Recommended for your Health, including Free List Of Acid And Alkaline Foods.

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How to Make Christmas Decorations From Nature


Making Christmas decorations from nature is a very old tradition. The very first holiday decorations were garlands made from tree branches, live Christmas trees, and evergreen wreaths. Natural materials have always been and will always be part of decorating for the holidays. You can decorate your home with items gotten from nature and not only be both modern and traditional, but save a lot of money at the same time. Here are some ideas to get you started:

1. Natural Wreaths

Dried Fruit

Natural wreaths are available at almost every store, but you can make your own and save money.

You can make a small or large wreath from English Ivy. English Ivy is easy to grow and it does grow pretty quickly. Once your plant has some length to it, wrap the ivy around a frame that you have inserted into your pot. You can add lights or just about any kind of decorations you like such as berries or other natural decorations. Another great way to make a wreath is to make one from cut greens. Use a round wire frame that you can make from a coat hanger or you can purchase one at any craft store. Take some of your evergreen bunches and tie them together at the base with wire. Then, wind the evergreen branches around the wire frame or take a coat hanger apart and weaver the coat hanger wire around the branches from beginning to end and then form it into a circle.  You can decorate the evergreen bunches with natural fruits and berries and put a bow at the top. For Christmas tree wreaths, take some small twigs and make them into wreaths to hang them on your Christmas tree. You can use a craft Styrofoam circle and add leaf bunches, berries and pine cones with some fresh bay leaves stuck in for scent.  You can also use a glue gun to glue everything to the craft circle instead.

2. Natural Garland

Instead of buying garland at the store for your stairwells or for on your mantle, make them out of cut evergreen branches. Wire the evergreen branches and wind them around your handrails or place them on your mantle. They also look nice over a doorway in a swag design.

When you make your garland, add some bay leaves for a wonderful scent. If you have a bay laurel shrub, the leaves cut from the shrub would be perfect. If you don't have a bay laurel shrub, you can also purchase bay leaves in bulk in some markets. Secure the bay leaves with twine until you have the length that you need and then inter-mingle them with the evergreen branches. Then, add dried fruit, pine cones and berries.

3. Clove-Studded Oranges or Apples

Clove-studded oranges or apples are a wonderful traditional decoration and many years ago, they were given as gifts. They were called pomanders and some of these still exist in museums. Oranges, apples and lemons are typically used to make pomanders. They are very easy to make and they smell wonderful! Here are easy instructions for you to make your own pomanders.

First, with a small knitting needed, skewer or fork, pierce the fruit all over, making each hole about ½" apart. Then, put dried cloves into all of the wholes. In a small paper bag, mix 2 teaspoons each of ground cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add ½ teaspoon of ground orris root if you can find it. The orris root helps to dry and preserve the fruit. Put the clove-studded fruit in the paper bag and shake to completely coat the fruit. Then, place the fruit in a cool, dry place for two weeks. Shake the pomander once a day. Pomanders also look good in a bowl or displayed on a mantle.

These are just a few ideas for decorating your home this holiday season with nature. Have fun!

How to Make Christmas Decorations From Nature

Decorate your home with items from nature. Be environmentally friendly and save money at the same time. Go to for more ideas for the holidays.

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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Preserving Fruit


Your grandmother did it and maybe your mother. You may have sampled some of the best tasting preserves ever made. When it comes to preserving fruit it may be time consuming but you can do it. Generations ago preserving foods, including fruit was not only a way of life it was also a necessity in order to survive throughout the winter when fruits were not available any more. Because of the many different fruits to preserve you can offer your family the same way of life as your grandmother offered hers.

Sometimes when you have too many good quality fresh fruits, the only way to keep them from spoiling without having to consume them all at once is by preserving. There are different ways to do this - freezing, drying, and making jams are the most common. You can experiment and decide on the method that works best for you. Whatever form of preserving you choose, it is always best to use the freshest fruit, as that will affect the overall quality of your finished product.

Fruit contains a natural substance called pectin. As fruit boils during the jam-making process, the pectin in the fruit thickens the preserves. Usually, though, putting in additional, separately-packaged pectin is necessary in order to arrive at the right texture. Added pectin also allows the jam to finish cooking faster. Another thing to keep in mind when making jellies and jams is to use lemon juice; the acid in it will keep harmful bacteria from developing. Of course, it's important to use all ingredients in the right proportion; for this, it's best to find a good recipe and follow it. To store the jam after it is finished you need to pour it into jars that have been washed in hot water, seal them tightly, and boil the filled jars in water. This will keep the preserves from going bad. When cooled, keep them tightly sealed and store in a dark, cool area.

Freezing is the one preservation method that involves the least amount of preparation. All you have to do is separate the fruits into freezer bags and keep them in the freezer. Small fruits such as berries can be frozen whole, and larger fruits can be cut into smaller pieces or pureed before storing.

Dehydrating fruit is a good option if you're trying to save space, and it is also fairly uncomplicated. Fruits can be dried in the sun, in the oven, or in a dehydrator. Specific drying procedures depend on the type of fruit being used, but there are general rules that should be followed for all fruits. Prior to drying, you should always cover fruits with an acidic mixture, such as lemon juice. This will keep it from discoloring during the dehydration process. You can cut or slice them in almost any way you like, but remember that the smaller the pieces you cut, the faster they will dry. Once dried, the fruit should have a rough texture and bend easily. You can then store it in containers someplace dark and cool.

For some different preserving ideas take a look at slow cooker sweets recipes and in particular the recipe for slow cooker pumpkin butter.

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Baked Whipped Fruit Dessert


Desserts do not have to be loaded with fat and empty calories all the time. Fruit whips are simple to make and it seems like there is always room for a light, tasty end to a great meal. This dessert contains only 4 ingredients and none of them have hidden fat waiting to clog your arteries unless you want to smother it in whipped cream.

For this dessert I use dried fruit. Prunes will give you fiber which is usually not found in cakes or pastries. Apricots, raisins or dried cherries are also good to use. I remember my grandfather eating this with his breakfast. He would always make sure there was some left for his breakfast. I prefer it as a dessert.

Dried Fruit

To make this I take1/2-pound of pitted prunes and cover them with water and let them soak all night. The next morning I cook the prunes in the same water in which they were soaked until they are tender. I let them cool and puree them. Next I add 1/4-cup of sugar and cook for 5-minutes. Then I let them cool to room temperature.

Next I beat 2-egg whites until they are very stiff. Next I stir 1/2-tablespoon lemon juice into the prunes. I then fold the beaten egg whites into the prune mixture. I lightly butter a shallow baking dish and pour the mixture into it. I bake it for 20-minutes in a pre-heated 325-degree oven. This very good served warm or cold and with or without real whipped cream.

If other dried fruit is used just remember to use 1/2-pound of that fruit.

Baked Whipped Fruit Dessert

Everything I write about is from personal observation and life experiences. I love to cook and prepare foods in different ways. I like sharing my experiences about food and cooking. My website was created because of my interest in quality cookware and cooking.

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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Find A Christmas Fruit Cake You Enjoy


People have many and varied opinions on what sort of fruit cake they like for their Christmas cake. Some people even cook a dark fruit cake even though they are not personally particularly fond of them. Although I like a piece of dark fruit cake, I am more partial to having a lighter fruit cake in my home. Perhaps you would like to change this year and make a different fruit cake for Christmas.

Christmas is one of the most fun filled festive seasons of the year, and you just don't want to pass by it without a mouth watering fruit cake Christmas recipe. Fruit cake Christmas recipe is one of the most deliciously kept secret recipes of all moms and grandmothers and they just won't let them out to you. These cakes have been around for centuries, and today you might find varieties of them in the different households.

Getting a recipe from my mum was a work of art. You had to sit beside her while she added the ingredients to the mixture because it was a bit of that, a handful of that, a cup of this and so on. Although she had some written recipes, very rarely did she ever stick to them, but oh, my, could she cook.

Making a Christmas cake is a matter of being prepared. Making sure that you have all the right ingredients and prepare ahead. Cakes that have a lot of fruit in them, you will find, often have the fruit soaked over night in a liqueur or something similar and if this is the case, then you need to make sure you have everything on hand the day before you want to bake the cake. They are one of the simplest recipes that you might have come across, and all you need is a little organizing before you get started on it. Be it dried fruit, candied fruit, fruit rind, nuts, spices with liquor or brandy, these cakes simply make a yummy moist, dense, heavy cake.

There are two basic types of fruit cake Christmas recipe:

Light Fruitcake: The term light just refers to the way it looks because all the ingredients put into them make the cake light in appearance once it is cooked. Ingredients like granulated sugar, almonds, light corn syrup, pineapple, golden raisins and apricots are seen on the cake, which makes it look colorful and appetizing.

Dark Fruitcake: You guessed it. It is the darker ingredients like brown sugar, molasses, dark raisins, dates, prunes and walnuts that make the cake look dark when it is cooked. All these ingredients make the cake look very heavy, moist and dense. Some people love this lavish treat while the others resort to the lighter version.

Cakes are best made two months in advance if possible, so that it can mature and taste delicious at Christmas. After Christmas you can wrap it and store them in the fridge, provided that you take them out every month and sprinkle some liquor on them.

Decorate your Christmas cake and enjoy sharing with family and friends.

Kaye Dennan has been in commercial catering for many years and has a strong understand about what is need for a successful Christmas gathering. For valuable tips and information on Christmas entertaining and best of all, for hundreds of recipes visit where you will be able to find the answers to your Christmas recipe problems.

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Tips For Storing and Cooking With Tart Cherries


The tart cherry is fast becoming the first choice to combat arthritis pain. However, the fully appreciate this ruby red fruit we need to understand its rich history. The tart cherry is sometimes referred to as the sour, red tarts or the pie cherry and it is best known for the main ingredient in desserts and recipes. Dried cherries make a great addition to salads, couscous and as a quick health snack. The fresh cherries are ideal for jams, jellies, salsas and beverages.

Unfortunately, the fresh cherries are only available during the short harvest season in the July. Since they are very perishable they must be immediately processed after they are picked. Once picked, washed and separated they are either canned, frozen, juiced, concentrated or dried.
So here are some tips for properly handling the tart cherry.

Dried Fruit

Storing: The tart cherry is small than its cousin the sweet cherry. The best way to store the fresh fruit is to place them in a plastic bag. The fresh fruit will only stay for about 4 days. Canned cherries will keep for up to a year and after you open them they will keep for up to a week.

Preparing: The first step is to pit the cherry with a cherry pitter or a sharp knife. The cherry pitter is the most convenient since you simple place the entire cherry into the pitter and press. This will remove the pit from the fruit only leaving behind with a clean hole where the pit once rested.

Here is select nutritional information (per serving) for different types of cherry products:

Products Calories Sugar Iron
Dried Cherries 340 68.3 1.4
Cherry Juice 246 54.4 1.98

The biggest difference between the two products is one is a liquid and the other is a dried fruit. The dried it great for snacks and recipe additions while the liquid is better for the natural health benefits. It takes approximately 8 pounds of fresh cherries to make one pound of dried and it takes the juice of 80 cherries to make just one ounce of cherry juice concentrate. So if you want to drink the health benefits of the cherry year round grab a bottle of the cherry juice concentrate. Traverse Bay Farms is a good source for this tasty fruit. Not only will the company offer free shipping they also provide dried cherries, cherry capsules and more. So the next time you want to get some cherries try them out.

Tips For Storing and Cooking With Tart Cherries

Download a free copy of the tart cherry health report at Ms. Jackson is an avid writer in the natural health benefits of food and fruit.

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Acne Diet - A Healthy Diet to Cure Acne


Acne is not a good sign for your physical and mental health. It creates lots of aching symptoms on your skin area, such as swelling, whiteheads, blackheads, ruddiness, pimples, and zits, etc. You cannot work either at workplace or at dwelling.

There are numerous causes of acne, for example genetics, stiff clothing, peppery and oily food patterns, binge eating, obesity, depression, hormones imbalances, anxiety, foul water, global warming, soiled environment, poor living standards, lack of sleeping, scarcity of nutritional foods, and lack of exercise, etc. In this way, an everlasting diet plant becomes the vital choice for most of people to dispose of acne quickly.

Vitamin B2 is considered to be indispensable for acne, thyroid function and quick metabolism. The most gifted food resources of vitamin B2 consist of: rock-solid cheese, eggs, wheat-germ, leafy green vegetables, marmite, milk, liver, kidney, almonds.

Like B2, vitamin B3 is considered to be extremely important for acne and standard thyroid hormone function. The most knowledgeable food sources of Vitamin B3 take in: barley, oats, mackerel, eggs, meat, chicken, brown rice, dried fruit, cheese, wheat-flakes, tuna, turkey, and liver, and wheat bran, salmon.

Any deficiency of Vitamin B5 could lead to acne. Vitamin B5 plays a very significant role in acne elimination, energy creation, and it supports the adrenal function. The maximum food sources of Vitamin B5 contain: liver and kidney, meat, poultry, nuts, wheat-flakes, wheat bran, wheat-germ, eggs, molasses, oats, barley, beans, wholegrain bread, green vegetables.

Vitamin B6 normalizes the bad skin symptoms and construction of thyroid hormone and metabolism. The premium food sources of Vitamin B6 include: brewer's yeast, wheat bran, wheat-germ, oats, sardines, mackerel, poultry, beef, avocado, bananas, brown rice, cabbage, dried fruit, molasses, and eggs.

Choline is not an authentic vitamin because it is geared up in the liver. It is considered to be essential for capable fat metabolism and first-class skin structure. The deficit of choline can lead to pimples and zits. The most dynamic food sources of choline include: lecithin, beef liver, beef heart, egg yolks, wheat-germ, cauliflower, cucumber, peanuts.

Vitamin C provides an assortment of health benefits and proper functioning of glucose to power in the cells and excellent skin function. The most rich food sources of vitamin C surround: black currants, broccoli, green peppers, kiwi fruits, Brussels sprouts, lemons, oranges, strawberries, cabbage.

As you can see, there are many ways to get rid of acne. There are countless acne products, treatments and remedies to try. However, in my case nothing seemed to work for me. After suffering from acne for so long and trying many different remedies and products I finally found the best way to cure my acne in the fastest time. You can find out more information about it at

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Preserved and Dried Fruit Vs Fresh Fruit Nutrition


If you're choosing, would you rather have raisins, or fresh grapes? It may be surprising for you to learn that there are differences between dried fruits and fresh fruits.

Produce departments in most areas are filling up with berries and cherries, and they generally look more appealing than dried fruit. But some people, nutritionists say, prefer dried fruits.

Dried Fruit

One registered dietitian has said that dried fruit doesn't have to be washed or prepared or peeled, which makes it easier to serve, especially to children.

Dried food is easier to handle and pack, and it's non-perishable and portable, but it can contain more calories when you compare it with fresh fruit. Nutrition values also can change, depending on how the dried fruit is prepared.

Nutritional experts say that because of the water used in keeping fresh produce fresh, they can help to fill up your stomach more, and you'll get more fruit nutrition with fewer calories consumed.

Fresh fruits are naturally rich in fiber, potassium, folate and vitamins C and A. Dried fruits have health benefits as well, but the process of drying the fruit can leach some of the nutrients from it.

Nevertheless, dietitians will tell you that dried and fresh fruits can each play a role in helping to satisfy your sweet tooth. This helps you to combat obesity, and the dried varieties make it easier to get your four fruit nutrition servings each day.

Researchers have discovered that when you dry blueberries, they actually become richer in antioxidants by four times over fresh blueberries. But drying processes can cause nutrients to be lost, and sometimes there will be sugar added as well. So most nutritional experts believe that fresh fruit is better for you, nutritionally.

Pretreatments that take place before the drying process, which include adding sulfur dioxide, can help to protect some of the nutrients, while at the same time degrading others. The sulfur dioxide preserves vitamins C and A, but destroys thiamine. Oftentimes, vegetables or fruits are steamed, or boiled briefly before they are dried, to help speed the drying process up and to kill microorganisms. This preserves thiamine and carotene but it causes a loss of vitamin C. Exposure to oxygen and light during the drying process can also degrade nutrients even further.

Drying with high heat can reduce the effective level of protein that your body gets from the food you eat. The protein is still there, but not as easily absorbed by your body. Fruit nutrition changes with the drying process, while it helps some nutrients and degrades others. The intensity of the drying process, depending on the fruit involved, will have various effects on the fruit you will eventually eat. Some of the effects are good, some not so good, and some parts of the dietary nutrition in fruits does not change appreciably when dried.

On the positive side, dried fruit has other benefits besides increased antioxidants. It is high in fiber, so it can be helpful in controlling diabetes, lowering blood cholesterol and helping to relieve constipation. Dried fruit is also a lot healthier than sugary snacks. And it's a quick energy source for athletes.

So... dried fruit is better in some ways and worse in others, as far as fruit nutrition statistics go. Eat dried fruits for snacks, but remember to include four servings of fresh fruit in your diet a day.

Preserved and Dried Fruit Vs Fresh Fruit Nutrition

Learn about daphne plant, elder tree and other information at the Gardening Central site.

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

What Are the Health Benefits of Blueberries?


Blueberries are one of the most heart healthy fruit available. Who would have ever thought that something so delicious can be so good for you? Just one cup of blueberries each day (whether they are fresh, frozen, or dried) can have a major impact upon your health.

Blueberries are very rich in antioxidants. The antioxidants in this particular fruit reduce the buildup of "bad" LDL cholesterol. This "bad" LDL cholesterol if left untreated can contribute to cardiovascular disease and stroke. Compared to 40 other fruit and vegetables, blueberries rank number in antioxidant activity. Antioxidant activity is very important because it can help neutralize harmful byproducts of metabolism, called free radical. These free radicals can eventually lead to cancer and other age related diseases. By consuming blueberries we slow down or prevent the damage that is caused by these free radicals. The beneficial antioxidant that is found in blueberries is called Anthocyanin. This particular compound can also be found in blackberries, black raspberries, black currants, and red grapes; however, the highest level is found in blueberries.

Adding blueberries into your daily diet is easy. You can buy them fresh, frozen or dried. Of course fresh fruit always offers the highest number of nutrients since no processing was required. When purchasing dried blueberries, try to purchase some that were not processed or chemically treated; usually the best place to go is the greenery or other organic food shop. You can add this dried fruit into your morning cereal or oatmeal. If you chose to purchase frozen blueberries, all you have to do is defrost them and add them to your favorite yogurt or eat them plain. There are countless ways to add more blueberries into your diet and with all of their health benefits who wouldn't want to!

Lyla Feldman writes about health and fitness. Some of her favorite passions include writing about energy drinks and natural sleep aids.

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Natural Gout Home Remedy - Tart Cherries Are Rich in Anthocyanins


Did you know tart cherries are a natural way to fight gout pain? This ruby red fruit also helps to reduce arthritis joint pain, too. Best of all it's a homegrown American fruit with the majority of the tart cherries being grown right in the State of Michigan (over 60% of the U.S. tart cherry crop is grown on the farms of the Traverse Bay region in Michigan). As more and more people want to buy from American companies and farms, the tart cherry is a great choice for those looking to fight joint pain naturally and support American farmers.

According to a research study conducted by the University of Michigan, eating one and one half servings of tart cherries could help to increase antioxidant levels and activity in the body. The 2009 study indicated that people who ate one and one half cup of frozen cherries enjoyed increased levels of anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are not only responsible for giving the fruit its red hue but all offer anti-inflammatory benefits for arthritis sufferers and help to dissolve uric acid crystals that form between the joint and may cause gout pain.

Dried Fruit

The researchers had 12 individuals, aged 18 to 25, and randomly selected to eat one and one half cups or three cups of frozen tart cherries. After the participants ate the cherries, the researchers found the antioxidant benefits of tart cherries remained in the body for up to 12 hours after eating the fruit. So what does this mean? The good news is that antioxidants and anthocyanins from tart cherries do make it into the bloodstream and help to boost antioxidant levels in the body for an extended length of time. So for people looking to get the anti-inflammatory benefits of the cherry and enjoying pain relief for an extended length of time, should consider adding tart cherries to their diet.

The bad news is frozen tart cherries are not only difficult to find in your local grocery store, if you order them over the Internet the majority of the time they arrive thawed from the shipper. So what are some of the additional ways to get the natural gout home remedy of the tart cherry. Fortunately, you can get several different types of the tart cherry products, including dried cherries, the fresh fruit, cherry juice concentrate and tart cherry capsules. Here is how these compare and where to get them:

Fresh Cherries: During the harvest season, from the end of June to Mid August, you can usually find the fresh fruit in the produce section of your local grocery store. In addition, the Smyth Family farm in Michigan can call ship you fresh cherries.

Dried Cherries: These are available year round and make a great addition to any recipe or a snack. It takes about 8 pounds of fresh cherries to make just one pound of dried cherries. The reason is you are remove much of the water weight when you dry the fresh to make the dried fruit. You can get the dried version from Fruit Advantage. They even offer free shipping on the dried fruit.

Cherry Juice and Tart Cherry Capsules: These are the most convenient ways of getting the health benefits of the cherry. The reason is it takes the juice of the about 80 cherries to make juice one ounce of the tart cherry juice. So the liquid is a highly concentrated. In addition, the cherry capsules are also an excellent way to get the antioxidant benefits of this fruit since the tart cherry capsules encapsulate the whole cherry including the skin, the pulp and the flesh of the fruit. You get everything except the pit and the stem with the capsules. Also each daily serving of the capsules is equivalent to drinking 4+ glass of the cherry juice. One company that offers both of these cherry products is Traverse Bay Farms. They even offer free shipping on the juice and the capsules.

So enjoy the natural health benefits of this American grown fruit all year long and stop the gout pain today with an American Super Fruit.

Natural Gout Home Remedy - Tart Cherries Are Rich in Anthocyanins

Download a free copy of the Official Tart Cherry Health Report at Ms. Simpson is a natural healer and internet blogger. She teaches about the natural healing properties of food and encourages her clients to follow a daily diet rich in antioxidants.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Best Fruits and Vegetables for Weight Loss


The best fruits and vegetables for weight loss are great for helping you lose weight fast and much more. They also decrease your cholesterol, give your colon and digestive tract some healthy fiber, and they are jam packed with nutrients your body is craving.

Best Fruits and Vegetables for Weight Loss

- Fresh is best.

Stick with fresh produce if you want those pounds gone quickly.

Dried fruit or candied fruit is higher in calories and harder to digest because their natural water content has been removed in processing. Dried or dehydrated fruits are not going to help you lose weight like fresh fruit will. So avoid those for now.

- Salads

Salads are a great way to eat lots of healthy fresh vegetables that will fill you up. You can use dressing, however I recommend you make your own healthy salad dressing at home and avoid the high fat varieties at the grocery store. If you don't have time to make your own salad dressing be sure that you buy one that is low fat, low sugar or no sugar and all natural. And be sure it does not have high fructose corn syrup in it.

- Hydrating Quick Elimination Fruit

You want to eat fruit that is high in water content. These types will help you feel full, hydrate you and help you eliminate easier due to the fiber content. Some of these are: watermelon, cantaloupe, honey dew melon, oranges, and tangerines.

So there you go, a few ways to get faster weight loss eating healthy plant based foods.

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Dried Fruit


Dried fruit is a very useful ingredient in both savory cooking and desserts. It offers a concentrated burst of sweetness and can often help curb even the most persistent sweet tooth. You can either dry your own or purchase the dried fruit at the supermarket. Raisins, dried apples, dried figs, and dried bananas, and other types of dried fruit can be used in a variety of ways. Here are some suggestions.

Substitute Dried Fruit for Fresh

Dried Fruit

Dried fruit makes a wonderful addition to any recipe. In blueberry or cranberry muffins, for example, you can substitute dried fruit for the fresh version. If the recipe calls for one cup of fresh fruit, use ½ cup dried fruit. Soak the fruit in a little orange juice or water to make it plump.

Dried Fruit Trail Mix

Dried fruit makes a great addition to any trail mix. The simple sugars are a healthy substitute for candy and they offer a quick energy burst when you need it. If your hike is strenuous, you'll need to eat a constant amount of food to keep your energy and stamina up. Just mix the dried fruit of your choice with other ingredients such as pretzels, cereal, nuts, and crackers. Keep the mix within easy reach so you can munch it on the trail.

Savory Cooking with Dried Fruit

You can also include small pieces of dried fruit in savory cooking. Incorporating raisins and chopped dates into a couscous, rice, or lentil pilaf offers a good way to contrast spicy and sweet in the same dish. Other dried fruits, such as mango or pineapple, work well in different sauces and glazes. For advice on cooking with dried fruit, you can either search online or look in cookbooks. Middle Eastern food often incorporates dried fruit in their dishes.

Dried fruit serves as a healthy snack or interesting accompaniment to your meal. Look for creative ways to cook with dried fruit and you will be rewarded with good health.

Dried Fruit

Fruit provides detailed information on Fruit, Tropical Fruit, Organic Fruit, Dried Fruit and more. Fruit is affiliated with Gourmet Fruit Gift Baskets.

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