Blood Orange Compote

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It’s time blood oranges are brought into the culinary spotlight. They are full of vitamins, minerals, folic acids, and antioxidants. Not to mention fiber. They taste like a cross between a very sweet Valencia orange and a grapefruit. The interior is a beautiful, jeweled crimson hue. The anthocyanins in the blood oranges gives them the red color, which are flavonoids. Their season is short, making them all the more desirable. Also, they can used in savory and sweet dishes. Blood oranges have long been used in beauty products and elixirs as well. Also, they happen to be in season during Valentine’s Day. Their color speaks love and romance.

Blood Orange Compote
I use this compote to smear on toast, pancakes and french toast. Bakers can even use this compote as filling for cupcakes and cakes. It’s sweet and slightly tangy.

Try to pick blood oranges with a reddish exterior as well.

Ingredients
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar or muscovado sugar
4 blood oranges, peeled and cut into sections, membranes discarded
1/2 cup currants or black raisins
1/2 cup blood orange juice

Method
In a saucepan bring water, maple syrup and sugar to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add in the blood orange juice and blood oranges. Stir well and reduce heat to simmer. Let simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Keep an eye on it to make sure the liquids don’t completely evaporate. Taste the mixture and add in a bit more sugar if it’s not sweet enough. Stir in the currants and cover for 10-15 minutes, until you have a thick, sweet consistency. Transfer to a glass container and refrigerate overnight. Or you can serve it right away.

Stir compote before serving.



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January Rules

The holidays were really fun- going from one party to another, learning how to make cookies from scratch, participating in cookie swaps, decadent dinners, brunches, and exciting Club Dine In! events. My favorite was Irvin’s dessert party. Irvin, a passionate baker and blogger, throws an annual grandiose dessert party. He bakes all of his desserts from scratch and asks his guests to bring only their sweet tooth. Irvin had 21 desserts, all displayed beautifully with name cards. I tried to take only bite-sized servings of the desserts I really wanted to try, but I decided that everything was sooo worth it. My favorites were the Red Velvet Cake with Whipped Mascarpone Cream Cheese Frosting and  Sweet Potato Cheesecake with Marshmallow Sour Cream Topping.

I baked cookies from scratch! Pistachio+Muscovado Sugar+Egg Whites+Meyer Lemon

I don’t feel that guilty about my indulgent ways in December and have set goals to get back on track to healthy eating and living. Instead of making large, undefined resolutions such as “losing weight” I’ve decided to go to the gym at least four times a week, limit desserts to once a week, and appreciate food more. I’ve also decided to clean up my act a bit more by participating in January Rules. Remember, the October: Unprocessed challenge? Andrew Wilder at Eating Rules has come up with another challenge: January Rules. This challenge is much more lax and asks you to follow only three rules. I already follow these rules normally, especially #2, but I need to more vigilant.

  1. When you eat grains, eat only 100% whole grains.
  2. Don’t eat high fructose corn syrup.
  3. Don’t eat hydrogenated oils, trans fats, or anything that’s been deep-fried.

Also, once a week, go ahead and “cheat.” Eat anything you want. I encourage all of you to kickstart 2011 with joining me on January Rules. Follow the hastag #januaryrules on Twitter for inspiration, motivation, and ideas.  Follow me on twitter for more frequent ideas on how to satisfy your sweet tooth, make unprocessed choices, and pretty pictures of food and other musings.

 

Did you know that Club Dine In! is on Twitter and Facebook? Follow @clubdinein for daily health, fitness, and social news, recipes and delicious tips! Join the Club Dine In! community on Facebook to connect with like-minded people and find out about exclusive Club Dine! events.

Thanksgiving Without The Guilt

For the last 25 days you have 1) talked, thought, tested out recipes, and shopped non-stop for this meal  2) salivated over all the food blogs and TV shows, hoping someone can cook all that up for you 3) secretly dreaded the meal because you know it will mess with your health goals.

Family Meal

Image by _dbr via Flickr

It really is wonderful that you have been more conscious of your health and weight. You have made changes that will help you reach your health goals and  you have been on track for sometime now. If you really have been on track, eating well and being active regularly, then fear not. Even if you have not been on track, still fear not.  Thanksgiving is just one day and it is just one meal. It is the one day that you can allow yourself to enjoy creamy mashed potatoes,  turkey gravy, macaroni and cheese, and decadent desserts.  Here are some basic tips for healthy eating:

1. Enjoy the atmosphere. Take in the sights and smells of the food. Talk to the people at the dinner table.

2. Fill up your plate once and eat slowly. Bite, put your fork down, chew,  enjoy the conversations, then bite again. Slowing down helps you digest and you can actually enjoy the taste of the food. If you are still hungry, go for seconds of  only what you really only want to eat.

3.  Leave room for dessert. Instead of saying “There’s always room for dessert,” actually leave room for it. Eat a little less of everything else so you can have a piece of that pie with whip cream sans guilt.

4. Start the day with a workout, brisk walk, or anything active that will help kick-start your metabolism. If you are too busy cooking, cleaning, or driving, just do 10 jumping jacks. That may not seem like a lot, but it’s better than nothing, will make you feel better, and it only takes 60 seconds. Or suggest the family go for a walk after the meal instead of sitting down in front of the television.

Overall, it is just one meal.  If you overeat, don’t be so hard on yourself. It will not kill you or throw so off track that you can’t get back on. Your metabolism will adjust and you will burn off the extra 200 calories. Plus, you can get back to eating regularly and staying active the next day. Stop thinking about Thanksgiving as only about food and think about all that you have to be thankful for. It’s a time when you sit down and share the grand meal with people who mean something to you. Enjoy that thought. Happy Thanksgiving.

Earl Grey Cranberry Sauce with Dates

While thinking about how original I can get with the millions of cranberry recipes out there, it struck me like a bolt of lightning.  Okay,  I am being dramatic, but it was that exciting. A few months ago, I made … Continue reading

Taking the Can Out Of Cranberries

Deliciously shaped.

Image via Wikipedia

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Canned cranberries. I thought that was the only way it goes, never even having seeing cranberries in their fruit form. Then sometime 5-6 years ago, I saw Ocean Spray whole cranberries being sold at a supermarket. I popped one in my mouth and was really sorry. I always thought cranberries were really sweet, but was I wrong! I would have never guessed that cranberries were so bitter because they are super, duper sweet when coming out of the can. I examined the ingredients and nutritional information on the can and compared it to the whole, fresh cranberries. Here is what I found:

Canned Cranberry Sauce
Cranberries, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Water, Corn Syrup and Citric Acid

Whole Cranberries
Cranberries

Simple, Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Cranberries, water, sugar

Notice the significant difference between the ingredients used to make homemade cranberry sauce and the canned stuff. Sugar is not exactly the same as high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and corn syrup. HFCS are created in a lab and does not come from the earth.  If you wish to believe the advertisements and propaganda put on by the industry, who have a lot of money to spare, I will not debate here.  By the way, the industry is calling HFCS and corn syrup “corn sugar nowadays to make it harmless and simple. You can decide for yourself. It’s just bad for you and it’s in virtually every packaged, processed, pre-made product.  The important message here is that you can control the amount of sugar you eat if you make the food at home. You can also choose sugar alternatives (Muscovado sugar, coconut palm nectar, dates, raisins, Agave nectar, raw honey, Stevia).  Also, another thing that everyone should be concerned with is Bisphenol A. BPA needs its own post(s) altogether, but everyone should be cautious of it as it has been linked to breast cancer, prostate cancer, obesity, just to name a few. BPA is used to line canned and pre-packaged food, which leaches into the food.

Cranberry sauce has to be the easiest Thanksgiving dish, ever. Of course, you can tap into you creative side and jazz it up by adding one or many spices, orange juice, or anything else you seem fit. I started taking pride in making my  cranberry sauce when I read the recipe on the back of Trader Joe’s cranberries and the sight of canned cranberries just make me a little uneasy. Also, cranberry sauce can be made well in advance and actually thickens in the fridge. It’s also super easy (and cheap) to take to potlucks. Check out the recipes below on how to make your own cranberry sauce. Also, if you want to really surprise your guests, try my Earl Grey Cranberry Sauce with Dates.

Simple
Homemade Cranberry Sauce– by Pioneer Woman (who won the Thanksgiving Throwdown against Bobby Flay)
Gingered Cranberry by Sauce by Closet Cooking
Jellied Cranberry Sauce by The Bitten Word

Creative
Earl Grey Cranberry Sauce with Dates by Club Dine In!
Bourbon Cranberry Sauce by The Craving Chronicles.

via 5 Second Rule

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A Perfect Cup of Pumpkin Chai

This chai pairs perfectly with a warm slice of pumpkin bread or fresh pumpkin pie. It is easy to make in a large batch to serve at holiday parties or even after your Thanksgiving meal. Continue reading

Indian-Spiced Pumpkin Latte

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When I hear the words Fall or Autumn, these images pop into my head:

Also, I am more inclined to use my oven to make vegetable roasts, poultry, and pumpkin pie. This time of the year, I like to try out new jams and experiment with anything that has pumpkin in it, except for pumpkin lattes at cafes. I remember paying $5 for a small pumpkin latte a few years ago and I threw it out after 5 sips. I couldn’t stand the flavors and haven’t been so inclined to mix pumpkin with espresso since then. However, Satish has a homemade espresso everyday and almost everyday I am tempted to make a specialty drink. However, he likes to keep it rather simple when it comes to his basic staples (coffee, cereal, rice) and prefers that I leave the experimenting to myself. I have waited a whole year to buy pumpkins, pumpkin purees, pumpkin spices, and pumpkin butter and I have been determined to make the best use of all my newly acquired pumpkin products. So when I woke up to rainfall yesterday morning, I knew that it was the day to make a pumpkin latte.

Indian-Spiced Pumpkin Latte

Serves 2.
Ingredients:
2 cups  milk, organic preferred
2 tablespoons Pumpkin Butter*
1-2 teaspoons sugar, unrefined, unprocessed preferred**
1/8 teaspoon cardamom powder, fresh if possible
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
3-4 strands of saffron,  soaked in 1 tsp water for 15-30 mins (optional)
2 shots espresso or 1/2 cup brewed coffee***
1/4 cup milk to create a foam with espresso machine  (optional)

1. Add milk, pumpkin butter, cardamom powder, soaked saffron with its water, and ginger in a saucepan. Gently whisk to combine all of the ingredients and make sure the Pumpkin Butter is mixed in well (no lumps). Taste the mixture and add sugar if needed.

We prefer to use Fair Trade coffee and espresso grounds. Shouldn't all coffee be Fair Trade?

Organic milk is humane, healthy, hormone-free and tastes pretty phenomenal.

Whisk and taste. Add sugar or anymore of other spices to your liking.

We prefer to use unrefined, unprocessed sugar. Mascobado is less sweet than refined white sugar.

2. Bring the mixture to a boil on  medium heat. Remove from the stove, and give the saucepan a whirl. While the mixture is coming to a boil, make the espresso or coffee. Also, make the foam using the milk steamer on your espresso machine or a foamer. Keep an eye on the mixture, though.

The scent will be strong and colors rich.

Pour in the steamed milk on top for extra velvety richness.

3. Pour into two mugs and add espresso on top. Add foam from steamed milk on top if desired.

**If using store bought pumpkin butter, read the ingredients! Simple, unprocessed pumpkin butter has the following ingredients: pumpkin, spices, apple cider or lemon, and sugar.

**The pumpkin butter is really sweet, so hold off until adding sugar until you taste all of the ingredients. Also, white sugar is highly processed and I encourage you to try alternatives, such as unrefined Muscovado sugar.

***Read why Fair Trade coffee is a better option and how you can help poor farmers by making the better choices here. This latte can be made completely Fair Trade by using Fair Trade coffee, sugar, and spices.

Did you know that Club Dine In! is on Twitter and Facebook? Follow @clubdinein for daily health, fitness, and social news, recipes and delicious tips! Join the Club Dine In! community on Facebook to connect with like-minded individuals and find out about exclusive Club Dine! events.