Need to add a little sparkling goodness to your holiday gathering without the guilt? Try this. It’s quick and easy to mix up and has some awesome health benefits.
Sparkle and Spice Drink
1/4 cup natural cane sugar (Florida Crystals)
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 teaspoons ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon Ceylon cinnamon
Juice from 1/2 lime or orange
Chill 2 quarts of sparkling water.
Make a paste using the lime juice and all the other ingredients. Drizzle about ½ teaspoon of paste in a 10 to 12 ounce glass. Add ice and fill with chilled sparkling water, stirring. It will get very fizzy. Have slices of the citrus on hand to garnish the glass. Add more paste for more flavor or less for a hint of flavor.
Benefits of Ginger
• Great for digestion and easing nausea
• Excellent anti-inflammatory
• Boosts immunity
Benefits of Cinnamon
• Acts as an appetite stimulant
• Aids in digestion
• Helps balance blood sugar
Confession: I love pumpkin. Put it in anything savory or sweet and I’ll be yours forever. Around October 1, I buy pumpkin in bulk—half a dozen cans of the packed pumpkin and at least 3 whole ones to roast myself. In my house, eating pumpkin-y goodness is serious business. Since it’s a late summer/fall squash, we gorge ourselves on it while it lasts. And then when the first snow hits, I die a little inside because I know I’ll have to wait 365 long days to eat my beloved antioxidant filled beauty once again. I’ve got a few more weeks before that happens and I’m going to savor every morsel including this modification of Jo’s Banana Oatmeal Bars. Because of my aforementioned obsession, I thought pumpkin might make a delicious substitute for the banana in the oatmeal bars and I was right! Pumpkin and spices and raisins and oatmeal made this a fall treat. Note that the amount of spices and molasses are based on your tastes. Trust your tastebuds to guide you and give it ago. I hope you enjoy!
Pumpkin Oatmeal Bars (modified from Jo’s Banana Oatmeal Bars)
2 cups oatmeal (not instant)
1/2 cups finely shredded unsweetened coconut
2 cups of pureed pumpkin (I think sweet potatoes could be really awesome in this too!)
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon molasses (I used the darkest, most robust one I had on hand. I just love molasses but maple syrup or honey would probably be delicious as well if molasses isn’t your thing.)
Dash of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup raisins or other dried fruit
1/4 cup pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix ingredients together and pat into a lightly oiled 9 x 9 square pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until set. Let cool, cut and eat your pumpkin creation. I let mine sit out a day so they’d be extra chewy like a granola bar. Yum!
Facts about Pumpkins
Pumpkins are thought to have originated in North America. Earliest evidence is from as early 7000 BC in Mexico
They are packed with beta carotene and lutein
Pumpkins are one of the most popular crops grown in the U.S.
Pepitas (pumpkin seeds) are a powerhouse of protein
Pumpkins are high in fiber
Morton, Illinois is the self-proclaimed pumpkin capitol of the world. They’ve held a pumpkin festival every year since 1966 and are the site where 90% of all canned pumpkin eaten in the U.S. is packaged.
Jack o’lanterns were first associated with the harvest season, not specifically Halloween.
I did a photoshoot about two months ago with Jo for her fall recipe cards. This shot was one of the outtakes. This is the beginnings of her squash dunk. When I look at it, I feel all warm and cozy inside, don’t you?! To me, the squash dunk is the epitome of what she’s all about. Simple, delicious, flavorful, and above all, heartwarming. During the grueling all-day shoot (okay, so it wasn’t all that grueling, since Jo and her sister did all the cooking!), I got to taste 15 different recipes that Jo created. While my belly was full of the yumminess, my heart was also full. I knew that we were just making these recipes for beauty shot purposes (who knew kale pesto was such a diva?) but still, I felt loved. That’s what makes Jo’s food great and that’s why you should make them for yourself or your loved ones. If you make it, they can taste the love.
I get overwhelmed by the barrage of emails, texts, facebook messages, twitter links and phone calls that are part of our modern world. I admit it. I know it makes me tense, but I usually keep myself plugged in to this craziness of instant information so I don’t miss out on that valuable nugget of news that just can’t wait. But not yesterday afternoon. In the time it took me to ride my bike home from work, I had received 23 new emails, 3 texts and a voicemail! What is this craziness?! Enough is enough. I made a decision to take the dog for a walk in the glorious sunshine and leave the phone behind on the counter. I’m glad I did. I was rewarded with my dog’s boundless energy, the warm fresh air, the sound of the leaves rustling in the breeze and this little guy! He was lying all alone in the grass near the park, as if he’d been knocked out of a bouquet, looking vibrant and perfect. He needed a new home, so I brought him in and gave it a place on the windowsill. Isn’t he a beauty? And to think I could have missed out on this unexpected beauty in my path. Sometimes, whatever or whoever it is can wait.
If you haven’t bought Jo’s recipe cards, GO BUY SOME NOW! This week, my grocery list was full of the ingredients to make several of her recipes from the cards, including her squash dunk. I’m most obsessed with it. She made it for the photoshoot using squash. I knew that I could use sweet potatoes instead and since I’m head over heels for sweet potatoes and I’m too lazy to roast a squash, I added them to the list. Fast forward to yesterday. I had just arrived home from work and was absolutely starving. I tossed some sweet potatoes in the microwave and whipped up the dunk for my late afternoon snack. I used almond butter instead of sunflower butter and I used lemon for the citrus element. You guys, you need to make this. I want to eat it every day. It goes well with veggies for a guilt-free, satisfying treat. Yumm-o!