Hot Chocolate Anyone?

hot-chocolate

Hot chocolate is my favorite drink during the fall and winter months. The snow was falling outside and I was anxious for my 1st cup of the New Year. However, I made a New Year’s Resolution to be healthier and watch my sugar intake. Have you ever taken time to stop and read the nutrition label on a box of hot chocolate?  The first two ingredients are sugar and corn syrup. Cocoa is not listed until the fifth ingredient. My once loved drink was slowly adding weight to my body. One cup of hot chocolate can contain anywhere from four to seven teaspoons of sugar. Since my favorite way of making mine is with reduced fat milk and using original hot chocolate packaged mix I was drinking SEVEN teaspoons of sugar in one cup!

I was not going to let one little drink ruin my goal of becoming healthier. I set out to find a better option. Standing at the grocery store my mind was overloaded with all the different options. All too many times we believe what we read on the outside of the box instead of taking the time to read the nutrition label. No sugar added had to be better for me right? It should have fewer calories. Or what about the all-natural versions where you can pronounce all the ingredients?  There aren’t any added sweeteners or artificial flavors in them. What if I pick the dark chocolate flavor? Dark chocolate has antioxidants so that hast to be the best option. What about my whipped cream or marshmallows on top?

So what is a person to do when they still want that cup of hot chocolate but are trying to be healthier? The American Heart Association offers some suggestions on how to trim the calories by using fat free milk, low sugar hot chocolate packets and a minimal amount of toppings. If you would prefer, make it yourself so you can control the amount of sugar. Chances are you probably already have the ingredients in your kitchen. By personally controling the amount of sugar you are using it’s no longer the number one ingredient. Start with taking your favorite hot chocolate recipe and only use half the amount of sugar. It will not seem as sweet but you can add cinnamon, nutmeg or vanilla extract to help give it that extra something special. For a greater depth of flavor try simmering a cinnamon stick with your milk. Maybe you are looking for a recipe that is a sophisticated, European-style of hot chocolate which is thick and rich.

A healthier version of hot chocolate is very doable and in moderation has great health benefits. After all cocoa beans do come from seeds of a fruit that is grown on trees in tropical forests. That makes chocolate a fruit right?

Source: Gampel, S., & Bobroff, L. B. (2010, October). Dark Chocolate Benefits. Retrieved from http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/FM/FM38300.pdf

Source: Core, J. (2005, April 4). In Chocolate, More Cocoa Means Higher Antioxidant Capacity . Retrieved from http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2005/050404.2.htm

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu

Uses for spicy garlic oil

I have found many ways to use the spicy garlic oil. I discussed about using it on pizza crust and using it to sauté vegetables. Another way that I like to use it is in making tuna salad. Most tuna salads are made using full fat mayo. Growing up I would always help my grandma make tuna salad for lunch. I would help her open up the can and drain off the water while she would add mayo to the bowl. Her secret ingredient was sugar. She would always add a little sprinkle of sugar on top. As I got older I quickly learned that tuna was taken from a healthy ingredient and made unhealthy. My healthy version of tuna salad is as follows:

1 can tuna packed in water drained

1-2 T Dijon mustard

1 t spicy garlic oil

1/2 t tarragon

sprinkle of salt and pepper

Mix everything together and enjoy!

I’m not a big mustard fan and this doesn’t bother me at all. I love to eat it with crackers, between two pieces of bread or you could be fancy and hollow out a tomato and put the tuna salad down inside it.

No matter how you enjoy it you can rest assured that you are now eating a healthier version. 🙂

Take your cooking up a notch

Recently I have been trying to eat more cleanly. Trying to eat more vegetables is not easy especially when I’m only use to eating certain ones. I set out to try new vegetables but found quickly that I struggled making them healthy and still taste good. Sautéing them in butter is not on my clean path. I tried using olive oil and salt free seasoning but I still felt like something was missing. I experimented between olive oil and coconut oil and tried using all different kinds of seasonings but I still had to choke down my vegetables. I thought to myself that there has to be an easier way to make these vegetables edible while not adding a ton of calories.

I had attended a pizza on the grill class at our local cooking shop and used a spicy garlic oil. I had made homemade pizza and had leftover oil. It dawned on me to try and use that oil the next time I sautéed my vegetables. The results were astounding!! My husband, who only likes squash sliced thin and pan-fried, commented on how good the squash turned out! I knew then that I had a winner. So this past weekend I sat out to make a large batch that I can keep on hand at all times.

SPICY GARLIC OIL

Ingredients:

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2 c. Extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons Crushed red pepper flakes (you can add more if you would like but I cook for a 2 and 3 year old so I didn’t make it too spicy.)

24 Cloves Garlic

(For a smaller test batch use 1/3 c. oil, 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes and 4 cloves of garlic)

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First I peeled all the garlic cloves. It came out to about 2 whole bulbs.

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I added the oil and crushed red pepper flakes into a sauce pan and then used my micro-plane to grate the garlic into the oil. You could crush or chop the garlic put it all depends on how you want to store your oil.

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Start the pan over medium low heat and bring to a small simmer. You want the cloves to infuse into the oil and turn slightly brown, about 3-5 minutes. If the heat is up too high or you cook for too long you can burn the garlic and the oil becomes bitter. DON’T WALK AWAY.

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I purchased a oil/vinegar bottle for under $5 to store my spicy garlic oil.

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Using a funnel I started to transfer the oil into the bottle.

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Here is where problems can occur. My larger pieces or garlic didn’t want to go through the funnel so I had to use a knife to help push them down into the bottle. If your pieces stay large then they won’t go through or come out as you use the oil. If you left your pieces of garlic large than you can remove those out of the oil, put into an airtight container, covered with a little oil and store in the fridge.

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Finished product! If you leave the garlic with the oil then it needs to be stored in the refrigerator. If you removed the garlic then the oil can be stored on a shelf and the leftover garlic can be stored in the refrigerator and used in other recipes. See safety section below.

 

The condensed version of the recipe can be found under the recipe tab or by clicking here. Stay tuned for recipes that use this amazing oil.

 

Raw Garlic Safety

Unrefrigerated garlic in oil can promote the growth of C. botulinum bacteria. The bacteria can be present without affecting the smell or taste of the oil or the garlic. C. botulinum is a form of food poisoning. You can find out more information from this article by the USDA.

 

 

Blueberries

 

Benefits 

Low in calories and sodium

Contain no cholesterol

Lower blood cholesterol

Anti-cancer properties

Prevent UTI’s

Reduce the effects of glaucoma

Improve memory

 

Ways to add daily

Smoothies

Yogurt Parfaits

Oatmeal

Pancakes

Salads

 

What’s your favorite way to eat blueberries?

 

Hello world!

Welcome to my blog! I’m ready to help you live a healthier lifestyle. Stay tuned for further updates.