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November 2007

Thanksgiving Tips

Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching. Currently, we have about 48 hours left until Thanksgiving Feast Day arrives! I've been scouring the 'net to find quick, easy Thanksgiving tips that will help you prepare the perfect turkey, bake the best pies, serve delectable desserts and locate a cornucopia of Thanksgiving recipes.

The first Thanksgiving Tip is provided by Whole Foods Market. They offer a Holiday Meal Planning Guide which will help you organize your guest list, prepare a menu and shopping list and develop a cooking plan. Organization is the key to presenting an elaborate Thanksgiving feast. Whole Foods Holiday Meal Planning Guide will help you get everything under control in no time!

If you're planning on serving turkey for your Thanksgiving meal, Whole Foods Market presents the Guide to a Perfect Turkey. Discover how to choose the perfect turkey, learn how to safely handle the turkey (you don't want your guests getting sick!), stuffing techniques, general turkey cooking tips and a turkey roasting guide. The Guide to a Perfect Turkey provides everything you need to prepare the perfect bird!

Not sure how to carve a turkey? Whole Foods provides a step-by-step How to Carve a Turkey guide complete with photos.

Need help with baking? This Holiday Baking Guide will help you every step of the way. Learn how to choose the right type of flour, understand the difference between chocolate, discover healthy substitutions, pick up a list of pantry basics and grab some delicious recipes.

If you find yourself struggling as you prepare your Thanksgiving meal, Real Simple magazine offers How to Fix 10 Common Thanksgiving Problems and a Thanksgiving Cheat Sheet.

Need Thanksgiving Recipes? You can find 925 Thanksgiving recipes at the Food Network or download The Cheap Gourmet's recipe collections including Healthy Holiday Recipe Collection or the Pumpkin Patch Recipe Collection.





Comfort Food Recipe Contest

Sunbeam_breadmaker Nubella.com is a wonderful healthy food website that offers an abundance of recipes, health tips, health news, healthy blogs and a variety of sponsored giveaways. Nubella is currently hosting a "Comfort Food Recipe Contest" where the winner receives a Sunbeam breadmaker.

To enter the contest, you simply need to email your recipe, along with a photo and
include your name, address, and city, as well as a few sentences about why it’s your favorite healthy comfort food.

The Comfort Food Recipe Contest ends on November 26th, 2007 so don't procrastinate. For details, visit www.Nubella.com. While you're there be certain to check out all the excellent information provided to help you get on track and stay on track with your health program. You'll find hundreds of delicious, easy-to-prepare healthy recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and even holiday menus!


Simplify Your Life with Menu Planning Central

I recently discovered a wonderful place that is perfect for families on the go. It's called Menu Planning Central and they offer a unique service I believe you will appreciate. The founder, Christine Steendahl, has devised a system that delivers a menu plan, recipes and a categorized shopping list.

Menu Planning Central offers three menu categories including: Family Friendly Menu, Healthy Menu and Vegetarian Menu. As a member, you receive 4 weekly menus from each category complete with recipes and shopping list. Talk about simplifying your life!

As if that weren't enough, Menu Planning Central also offers a really cool "My Menu Maker" software program that allows you to create custom menus. You can use the recipes from the weekly menus provided by Menu Planning Central or enter your own.

Now, you might be thinking this service is expensive, but it's not. After all, you're talking to The Cheap Gourmet here. I wouldn't recommend an expensive product, now would I? Believe it or not, you can subscribe to Menu Planning Central for less than the cost of a fast-food meal for a family of four.

Using Menu Planning Central can save you a boatload of money in food expense; particularly if your family frequently eats out. And, you'll benefit from having family meals that everyone enjoys.

Last, but not least, Menu Planning Central is currently offering some really nice and beneficial bonus gifts when you subscribe to their monthly service. You'll receive Kid Approved Meals, which consists of 13 weeks of kid-approved breakfast and lunch recipes - with shopping lists, of course! Then, there's the Smart Mom Library, a collection of nine ebooks that help you be healthier, save time and money. Plus, you receive a free 30-day membership in the Menu Planning Club.

Organization is the key to cooking success. Menu Planning Central is a tool that can simplify your life, free up your time, save you some money, and help you prepare meals that your entire family can enjoy together. What could be better than that?

Click the banner below to learn more about Menu Planning Central


Meal Planning 2.0


Announcing: The Healthy Holiday Recipe Collection

It's official. The holidays are rapidly approaching and it's time to start thinking about what we'll be serving for holiday meals, social gatherings and office parties. Since many of us are attempting to eat healthier foods, I wanted to share my collection of healthy holiday recipes. Best of all, it's free! ;-)

The Healthy Holiday Recipe Collection is a 25-page report that includes a Holiday Menu Planner that is super easy to use. Simply select one recipe from each category, along with two side dishes and you'll be well on your way to creating a delectable, tasty holiday meal everyone will be talking about!

Categories include:

  • Appetizers
  • Soups
  • Salads
  • Entrees
  • Side Dishes
  • Beverages
  • Desserts

Recipes Include:

  • Artichoke and White Bean Dip
  • Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
  • The Great Pumpkin Soup
  • Quinoa Soup with Greens and Potatoes
  • Quinoa Apple Salad
  • Persimmon Mesculin Salad
  • Roasted Turkey
  • Baked Honey Ham
  • Mashed Sweet Potatoes
  • Quinoa Stuffing
  • Asparagus with Lemon Butter
  • Pumpkin Dumplings
  • Pumpkin Pie Smoothie with Homemade Whipped Cream
  • Orange Coconut Frost
  • Creamy Pumpkin Pudding
  • Rice Pudding with Cranberries

Healthy Holiday Recipe Collection is a PDF file and requires Adobe Reader to view. If you do not have Adobe Reader installed on your computer, you can download it for free at www.Adobe.com.

Click the underlined link below to download your free copy of
Download Healthy Holiday Recipe Collection


Banana Spice Loaf Cake

Personally, I love banana spice loaf cake more than just about any type of dessert. They are easy to prepare and can be served with nearly any meal. Loaf cakes make a terrific snack or stand-alone dessert. They can be topped with ice cream, whipped cream, berries or fruit toppings. You can add fruits, veggies, nuts, flavored syrups and liqueurs. In essence, loaf cakes are probably the most versatile dessert on the planet.

The following Banana Spice Loaf Cake was developed by me when I worked at a private Country Club. We would cut it into thin slices, slather one slice with a delicious cream cheese spread and place another slice on top. Then, we would cut the loaf cake "sandwich" diagonally to create four triangles. This technique makes the perfect appetizer or bite-size snack.

Banana Spice Loaf Cake

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Yields: 3 loaves
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Banana_spice_loaf_cake Ingredients:

6 very ripe Bananas
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 cup Applesauce
1/2 cup Butter, unsalted
2 cups Sugar
4 Eggs
3 cups Whole Wheat Flour
2 teaspoons Baking Soda
1 Tablespoon ground Cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground Cloves
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1-1/2 cups Golden Raisins, Raisins or Currants
1-1/2 cups Pecans, Walnuts, Almonds or Hazelnuts, chopped

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Lightly grease 3 loaf pans with butter.
  • In a medium bowl, mash bananas with a fork, then add olive oil and applesauce. There is no need to mix ingredients. Set aside while making cake batter.
  • In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar using electric mixer set on medium speed. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  • Stir in banana mixture and mix well.
  • Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add to banana mixture.
  • Stir in raisins and nuts and mix thoroughly.
  • Pour mixture into loaf pans and place in oven.
  • Loaf cake is finished when a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
  • Cool on baking rack for 15-20 minutes.

You can leave the loaves in the pans, or remove them and transfer them to a serving plate. Run a knife along the edges of the pan to loosen cake. To freeze, double wrap cakes in plastic wrap, then wrap in aluminum foil. Cakes can be frozen for up to 3 months. To retain freshness, always cover cake in plastic wrap, waxed paper or store in airtight container.

Banana Spice Loaf Cake makes a great holiday gift. Wrap in colored plastic wrap and tie with festive colored ribbons. Write the recipe on an index card and insert inside the recipient's holiday card. They'll love you for it!

Sweet Cream Cheese Spread

Yield: 1 cup
Prep Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

1 (8-ounce) package Cream Cheese, room temperature
3 Tablespoons Confectioner's Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract

Directions:

  • In a small mixing bowl, combine all ingredients together.
  • Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat ingredients until well-incorporated and creamy.
  • Cover and store in refrigerator until needed.

If you're using this spread on loaf cakes, let it warm up a bit before trying to spread it. Otherwise, the bread slices will crumble. Leftover cream filled loaf bread sandwiches need to be refrigerated.






Fruits and Vegetables Easy Ways to Get Your Nine a Day

Everyone knows eating a healthy diet means consuming seven to nine servings of fresh fruits and vegetables each day. For many, trying to accomplish this is a daunting task but with a little creativity and a bit of planning you can easily obtain the USDA's recommended daily allowance.

The following tips can help you easily and effortlessly integrate more fruits and vegetables into your daily routine. Incorporating these tips will provide you with more energy, radiant skin, healthy bones and help you shed those extra pounds.

Fruits ~ Recommended Daily Allowance: 4 to 5 servings per day

Serving size equals: 4 ounces 100% fruit juice, 1 medium fruit, 1/2 cup fresh, frozen or canned fruit, 1/4 cup dried fruit.

  • One way to easily consume more fruit is to keep a bowl of whole fresh fruit within eyesight. Purchase an inexpensive, yet pleasing-to-look-at fruit bowl and place it on the center of the dining room table, countertop or at eye-level on your refrigerator shelf.
  • Place chunks of fresh fruit on wooden skewers and make delicious and fun-to-eat fruit kabobs. Use banana slices, pineapple or mango chunks, grapes, apple slices and berries. Wrap in plastic wrap to preserve freshness. Fruit kabobs are a big hit with both kids and adults and perfect for lunch boxes and afternoon snacks.
  • Make homemade fruit salad using watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, berries, banana slices, pineapple chunks, mandarin oranges, raisins, figs or any of your favorites fruits.
  • For dessert, try baked apples, peaches or pears drizzled with honey.
  • When baking, substitute applesauce for half of the oil.

Vegetables ~ Recommended Daily Allowance: 3 to 5 servings per day

Serving size equals: 4 ounces low-sodium vegetable juice, 1 cup raw leafy green vegetables, 1/2 cup cooked vegetables, 1 small potato, 1 sweet potato.

Vegetables are organized into five sub-categories: dark green leafy vegetables, orange vegetables, starchy vegetables, dry beans and peas, and "other" vegetables. 

  • Keep a tray of cut vegetables in a clear container placed in the refrigerator for easy snacking. Baby carrots, carrot sticks, celery sticks, sliced cucumbers and zucchini, and radishes make for quick and convenient healthy snacks.
  • Shred carrots or zucchini into meat loaf, casseroles or bread and muffin mixes.
  • Garnish plates and serving dishes with brightly colored vegetables such as slices of red, green or yellow peppers, carrot sticks and radish slices.
  • Add chopped veggies to pasta sauces, casseroles and lasagna.
  • Instead of potato or tortilla chips, dip fresh veggies in salsa for a tasty treat.
  • Create a luscious salad consisting of dark leafy greens, sliced red onions, radishes, carrots slices and beets. Use salsa instead of salad dressing.