Recipe type: Beverage
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12 servings
Delicious easy to prepare mocktails for the New Year!
  • 24 oz white grape juice
  • 24 oz 100% pomegranate juice
  • 24 oz black cherry or similar flavor of sparkling water
  1. Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher or punch bowl. Chill until serving time. Garnish with sliced fresh fruit or mint leaves. Makes 12 six oz servings. You may substitute cranberry juice cocktail in place of pomegranate juice if desired.
This information is not intended for medical advice. Please contact your personal health care practitioner for individual medical advice.

Recipes are calculated using Spark People Recipe Calculator.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 6 oz Calories: 75 Fat: 0 grams Trans fat: 0 grams Carbohydrates: 19 grams Sodium: 17 mg Protein: 0 grams Cholesterol: 0 mg

Bring in the New Year with some Merry Mocktails! These delicious alcohol free beverages are guaranteed to please you and  your guests and there won’t be a nasty hangover tomorrow. Serve your mocktails in your prettiest wine goblets, an antique looking old Ball canning jar or your coolest mug! Garnish your mocktails with fresh mint, sliced oranges or lemon wedges or a big fat fresh strawberry!

Pom Pom Spritzer


Combine 2 cups fresh berries, 3 TB honey or 3 packets stevia sweetener and 2 cups raspberry or similar flavor sparkling water in your blender or food processor. Process until smooth. Chill and serve in individual glasses or a punch bowl. Garnish with fresh mint and fresh berries. Makes 4 cups of beverage. Serving size 1 cup. One serving is equal to 75 calories, 19 grams carbohydrate, 0 grams fat, 0 grams trans fat, 2 mg sodium, 0 grams protein using honey. If you use stevia, one serving is equal to 30 calories 7 grams carbohydrate, 0 grams fat, 0 grams trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol and 2 mg sodium.

Ingredients for the Pom Pom Spritzer-so easy!



Why do they call these cookies angel cookies? Maybe because of their simply divine taste! I was looking through my mother’s recipe box looking for the best Christmas cookie to prepare. My mother is now in heaven hopefully smiling down on me while I prepare a cookie that her, my sister and I prepared each Christmas when I was growing up. I don’t bake many Christmas cookies most years since my mother in law presents us with a box of pretty bow tied Christmas cookies and rum balls for one of our Christmas presents each year. We will visit her for the New Year this year so I broke the mold and decided to make some cookies this year. As I file through the old recipe box, I am reminded of all the food that my mother prepared with love as we were growing up. We ate very few processed foods then since everything was made “from scratch” and preserved from our garden by canning the fruits and vegetables each year. I learned how to cook at a young age and am happy about that since we prefer to eat food from its more natural state. Each recipe in the recipe box is handwritten on a recipe card .There are recipes from my mom, great aunt and grandmother. There are also recipes that my classmates and I  prepared in our Home Economics class in Junior and Senior High School. It is amazing to think that these are still some of the handwritten recipes that were used by family members almost 100 years ago. The Angel Cookie was always one of my favorite Christmas cookies, second only to the sour cream cut out Christmas cookies! Of course, I have modified the recipe slightly by omitting the shortening since we do not need the trans fat or extra saturated fat from this in the recipe.  People simply did not know or care about trans fats back in the day! The original recipe called for 1/2 cup shortening and 1/2 cup of butter and I used 3/4 cup of unsalted butter. Besides omitting the salt, I left the rest of the ingredients the same since I wanted them to have the same delicious taste that I remember in my younger days. The cookies can be rolled in white sugar or colored sugar such as red or green (or purple for the teenagers in your life).

Almond Angel Cookies and Milk for Santa

The recipe is written in my mother’s handwriting but say Aunt Florence on  top the recipe. Aunt Florence was my great aunt. She and her husband Uncle Orrin lived in a farm house out in the country. They were retired farmers so did not have any animals on the farm when we visited them as a child. My brother Randy, sister Tricia and I loved to visit them so we could run and play in their big farm yard. Aunt Florence kept a neat and clean farm house and was rumored to even iron her bed sheets. She was a good cook and had a pantry next to her cozy country kitchen which I thought was very cool. If we behaved, we would be rewarded with one of her crisp and delectable chocolate chip oatmeal cookies from the famous old cookie jar!

She had beautiful dark oak woodwork, an oak finished staircase which we loved to take turns sliding down and even an old fashioned oak telephone  on her wall that was no longer in use but I imagined talking on this and calling Sara the operator to make my call just like Andy and Barney did on the  Andy Griffith show. She and Uncle Orrin also had an old barn in immaculate condition with a ladder leading to the old hay mound which we loved to climb up and explore. They had barn dances up there in their younger years and my grandfather and grandmother on my mom’s side of the family met there and eventually married. In her younger years, she would pile my mom, her brother Bob, sister Pat and Uncle Orrin Junior in the box of her straight stick old Ford pick up and give them a ride to the nearest lake for a cool dip after a long day of weeding the garden and feeding the chickens on the farm. My Aunt Pat who was often a mischief maker I hear, decided to take a short cut through the bull pen on her way back to the farmhouse and was chased by a bull. She never ran faster in her life and made it over the fence in just the nick of time!

Another favorite part of Christmas is spending time with family and friends, enjoying favorite old and new family traditions and attending a Christmas Eve church service. Christmas time for me is also celebrating the birth of my savior Jesus Christ. I love to sing Christmas carols such as Silent Night Holy Night, Hark the Harold Angels Sing and It Came Upon a Midnight Clear in the church services. Old favorites such as Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow, and I’ll Be Home for Christmas, Santa Claus is coming to Town as well as all those Perry Como, Bing Crosby and Amy Grant Christmas songs are always playing in the background while I am baking, reading or wrapping Christmas presents. Every family has Christmas traditions and I remember listening to Herb Albert Tijuana Christmas also when I was a teenager since my parents enjoyed their music. I wonder if my sister or brother ended up with that album because it is not at my house! If you miss those old Christmas carols tune in to for the Christmas tunes. They even have a country western version if you are country music fan. I am also thrilled as well as thankful to be free of my former purple cast since I broke my heel last fall. I am slowly recovering, while taking physical therapy and doing my home exercises and hope to be back to walking in the white winter wonderland of Minnesota very soon! Have a blessed and Merry Christmas this year!


Recipe type: Christmas Cookies
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 30 cookies
  • ¾ cup softened butter (or margarine if preferred)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon soda
  • ½ cup crushed walnuts
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp almond extract
  1. Cream butter and sugar together with an electric mixer. Add brown and white sugar, egg, almond and vanilla extract and mix together until well combined. Fold in crushed walnuts and set aside. Combine all of the dry ingredients well with a fork. Fold dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Roll into small balls and dip half of the cookie mixture into water and then roll in granulated sugar. You may use white sugar or colored green or red sugar. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F. for 10-12 minutes. Cool off and serve or store in an airtight container or cookie jar.
Count as one carbohydrate choice or 1 starch and 1 fat choice.

Nutrition information was calculated using Spark Recipes Recipe Calculator.

Gluten free diets may use the gluten free flour such as Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Baking Flour.

This information is not intended to provide medical advice. Please contact your personal physician, certified diabetes educator or registered dietitian for further advice concerning adjustment into your meal plan.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: cookie Calories: 107 Fat: 6.5 grams Saturated fat: 3.1 grams Unsaturated fat: 3.4 grams Trans fat: 0 grams Carbohydrates: 12 grams Sodium: 46 mg Fiber: 0.4 grams Protein: 1.5 grams Cholesterol: 18 mg


Well it is a countdown to Christmas now and I am busy with my holiday menu planning and baking. Gluten free cranberry bread is on my menu since some of my family members are consuming a gluten free, dairy free Paleo friendly diet for health reasons. My niece Maria and her family are and she prepares some delicious gluten free recipes in her kitchen. I talked with my sister Tricia on the phone tonight and she and Maria are baking some gluten free Christmas cut out cookies this weekend. I sampled some last year and they were so good!

Cranberry orange walnut bread is an old family favorite at our house and I remember my sister and I helping my mother prepare this as well as Christmas cut out cookies in the shape of santa, reindeer, snowmen and stars when I was growing up. It is great how family traditions are passed down to the next generation. I was searching for a good gluten free cranberry bread recipe and came upon one by Ocean Spray and I modified the recipe slightly by reducing the sugar from 1 cup to 3/4 cup, reduced the salt from 1 tsp to 1/2 tsp and substituted 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in place of the shortening. Butter or coconut oil could also replace the shortening in the recipe. I prepared  the recipe and my husband and I were pleased how it turned out when we taste tested it and then froze the remainder of the loaf for Christmas. I also tried a recipe using almond flour, coconut oil and agave nectar but I was not very impressed with the taste so I will go back to my test kitchen again to find a recipe for cranberry bread using almond flour. If you have a good one, please forward it to me!

Gluten Free Cranberry Bread

Recipe type: Quick Bread
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries, cut in half
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 TB grated orange peel
  • 2 cups all purpose gluten free flour
  • ¾ cup sugar, regular or organic cane sugar
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 2 TB canola or olive oil (or butter or coconut oil)
  • ¾ cup orange juice, freshly squeezed or other version
  • 1 egg, well beaten or 2 egg whites
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Oil and flour a loaf pan. Combine cranberries, nuts and orange peel in a bowl and set aside. Mix together dry ingredients in a bowl. Combine egg, juice and vegetable oil and mix with a spoon or use an electric beater. Add dry ingredients to juice mixture and stir or beat until combined. Fold in the nut, orange peel and cranberry mixture. Place in prepared loaf pan and bake 50-60 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. You can make muffins from the recipe as well. Oil muffin tins well and will make 12 muffins. Bake muffins for 15-18 minutes.
count as 1 carbohydrate choice If you would like to reduce the carbohydrate (sugar) content further, you can substitute 12 packets Stevia in place of ½ cup of sugar.
If you would prefer to, you can substitute honey or agave nectar in place of the sugar. Use 50% less honey or agave nectar than sugar in your recipe.

Cool down the bread completely and let sit on thecounter for 1-2 hours before slicing to prevent crumbling.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1/ 12 loaf Calories: 105 Fat: 4 grams Saturated fat: 0 grams Carbohydrates: 13 grams Sodium: 193 mg Fiber: 1 gram Protein: 1 gram Cholesterol: 16 mg

Food is an important part of our holiday festivities. The last thing most of us want however is to get on the scale January 2 and see the scale go up five pounds or for our jeans to be so tight we can’t squeeze into them! Maintaining your weight over the season is a good goal to shoot for. Practice moderation in your eating over the holiday season. These suggestions will help. Use a smaller plate and eat slowly. Fill your plate with 50% fruits and vegetables, 25 % lean protein and 25% whole grain or gluten free grain. Try to limit yourself to one small portion of dessert ( or two half pieces) after your meal. You can always sample more later. I find taking half a piece helps. Bring a raw vegetable platter with a lower fat sour cream and non-fat greek yogurt dip or hummus if you are on a dairy free and gluten free diet. Fresh sliced seasonal fruit such as grapes, apples, clementines and pears are also a favorite and go fast at a party. Fresh shrimp with a low fat or fat free sauce is also a low calorie, high protein food you can bring to a holiday party. It also helps to take a small plate of food and don’t stand right by the food or buffet table and mingle. Walk across the room or take a seat elsewhere. Drink plenty of water or herbal tea as well. If you are drinking wine, add 50% seltzer or mineral water to reduce your alcohol and calorie intake. Keep up your regular exercise routine and all that mall walking while you shop helps too. Have yourself a very Merry Christmas or Hannukkah this year and a very prosperous and Happy New Year!


I am officially starting my Christmas baking today. I am preparing an old favorite family recipe, Cranberry Orange Nut Bread. I remember helping my mother prepare this when I was growing up. It will be on my Christmas menu and I plan to bring a loaf to my women’s bible study Christmas party next week. This bread is not only delicious but very healthy and  moderately low in calorie, fat, sodium and cholesterol content.. It can be adjusted into a carbohydrate controlled meal plan for diabetes or weight loss also. I have also made a gluten free version of this for my niece and her family since they are following a gluten and dairy free diet. I will feature that recipe in a future blog next week.

This quick bread is delicious for breakfast, snack time or served at a holiday celebration.

I enjoy Christmas baking but I like to “tweak” or modify many recipes to lower the calorie, saturated fat, cholesterol and carbohydrate content of the recipe for a couple of simple reasons. I do not want to gain extra weight over the holiday season and I enjoy eating healthy foods. I still want my recipe to taste good so I won’t modify my recipes to the point where they don’t taste good. Of course, I do enjoy sampling other people’s holiday foods and if they are higher in saturated fat or calorie content, I enjoy them in moderation. For example, my brother in law Al makes buckeyes from peanut butter and chocolate. They are out of this world in good taste so I try to limit myself to a couple of these! I am also in my fifties and realize that I do not have the metabolism of a twenty five year old anymore since the rate of metabolism decreases approximately 3 to 5 percent or more each decade as we age. I try to offset that by burning calories with walking on a regular basis. Unfortunately, I have had a cast or splint on my leg now for 6 weeks so walking is out for awhile but I do have some three pound arm weights that I lift each day as well as doing leg lifts with a three pound ankle weight from my recliner. Soon I will have my cast off and be able to resume my walking once again! I may have to mall walk or walk with my Leslie Sansome walking DVDsince it is chilly up here in the northland! I will share some of my favorite recipe swaps with you below.



Cranberry Orange Nutbread

5.0 from 1 reviews
Recipe type: quick bread
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 loaf (16 slices)
  • 2 cups all purpose flour, minus 2 TB
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • ¾ cup orange juice
  • 1 TB grated orange peel
  • 2 TB canola oil, regular or expeller pressed
  • 1 egg or 2 egg whites well beaten
  • 1½ cups fresh or frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cups chopped walnuts
  • 2 TB ground flaxseed
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with non-stick spray or grease with oil to prevent sticking. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda and flaxseed. Stir until well combined. Add orange juice, orange peel, oil and egg and stir in well. Stir in cranberries and nuts. Spread mixture evenly in a loaf pan. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of loaf comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Remove from pan and cool down completely before slicing. Makes one loaf. (16 slices)
Count 1/16 of a loaf as 2 carbohydrate choices
Since I am using 2 TB of ground flax seed, I am reducing the flour in the recipe by 2 TB.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 slice Calories: 175 Fat: 6 grams Saturated fat: 0 grams Trans fat: 0 grams Carbohydrates: 27 grams Sodium: 156 mg Fiber: 1 gram Protein: 3 grams Cholesterol: 18 mg

The recipe that my mother used to make was on the Ocean Spray cranberry bag and although it was delicious, I modified the recipe by reducing the sugar to 3/4 cup from 1 cup, reducing the salt to 1/2 tsp from 1 tsp. I substituted canola oil in place of the 2 TB shortening called for in the original recipe to reduce the saturated fat content of the recipe.  I also added 2 TB ground flaxseed to the recipe. This recipe swap reduces the calories per slice by 36, carbohydrates are reduced by 10 grams and the sodium is cut by 157 mg. If you choose to use 2 egg whites in place of 1 egg, the cholesterol content is now zero. Some of you may want to use a sugar substitute such as stevia in place of some of the sugar also. Twelve packets of stevia are equal to 1/2 cup of sugar in a recipe.



Ingredient                                         Substitution                                                                                                  


1 cup sugar                                        1/2 cup sugar                                                                                                                                 

1 cup vegetable oil                           1/2 cup vegetable oil and 1/2 cup applesauce                                         

1 cup sour cream                             1 cup reduced fat sour cream                                                                      

1 egg                                                   2 egg whites                                                                                                        

1/2 cup mayonnaise                        1/2 cup reduced fat mayonnaise                                                                                                                      

You will save 385 calories by reducing your sugar by 50% in the example above. The simple recipe swap using half oil and half applesauce in the example will save you 884 calories and 20 tsp of fat. Using your reduced fat sour cream save you 160 calories and 3 tsp of fat in your recipe. If you substitute the egg whites in place of one egg, you will save 45 calories, 1 tsp of saturated fat and 278 mg of cholesterol per egg. Lastly, by using the reduced fat mayonnaise, you will save 360 calories and 18 tsp of fat in your recipe. It all adds up!

You can also increase the fiber content of your recipes by using all whole wheat flour or 50% white four and 50% whole wheat flour. If you are baking gluten free, use the brown rice flour instead of the white rice flour to boost fiber and nutritional content. You can also purchase gluten free flour from ground legumes such as black bean flour. Almond flour  is made from whole ground blanched almonds. It is a good source of protein, fiber, Vitamin E and magnesium. Almond and coconut flour are higher in fat content than gluten containing flours, but they are a healthier form of fat. They are also lower in carbohydrate content than gluten containing  flours.

Ground flaxseed is a nutritional star! Each tablespoon is rich in fiber, omega 3 fatty acids and essential nutrients like copper, magnesium and thiamine. Grind the whole flaxseed so that you receive the nutritional benefits. The ground flaxseed is much easier for your body to digest.Ground flaxseed has a high concentration of healthy oils so it can be used as an egg replacement when baking or use in baked goods as a replacement for some of the flour. Use  1 tablespoon ground flaxseed  with 3 tablespoons of water or other type of liquid to replace each egg in cakes, cookies, muffins or pancakes. You may substitute ground flaxseed for the oil, butter or margarine in a baked good recipe in a 3-to-one ratio. For every 1/3 cup of fat called for, use one cup of ground flaxseed or flaxseed flour instead. For every one tablespoon of fat, use 3 tablespoons of ground flaxseed or flaxseed flour. You can replace some of the flour in your recipe with ground flaxseed also. Replace up to 15% of the white or wheat flour in your baked goods with ground flaxseed. If this is a yeast bread, use 25% more yeast than the recipe calls for. If you are preparing an egg based yeast bread, avoid using ground flaxseed as an egg replacement.


Take time to enjoy the Christmas season with family and friends. My niece has planned an advent calender to share with her two young sons Luke and Matt. You can read about this more at her Maria makes Muffins blog. Other families prepare an advent wreath and light one candle each week before Christmas and enjoy a family dinner or snack at this time. A hot chocolate and Christmas cookie party sounds like fun or an eggnog and dark chocolate covered pretzel holiday party would work too!  On the lighter side, you could prepare some Cranberry Spritzers by combining equal part of cranberry juice, white grape juice and black cherry flavored sparkling water. This makes a refreshing punch. Serve this with a platter of fresh fruit and cream cheese or yogurt based fruit dip as well as some hummus, whole grain crackers, raw veggies and cranberry orange nutbread. It is never too late to start a new holiday tradition. Enjoy this magical time of year and  also remember Jesus is the reason for the season!




It is hard to believe that Thanksgiving is just a few days away. Thanksgiving hostesses are planning their menus and checking their grocery lists twice. It is time to put the extra leaf in the dining room table and iron our best tablecloth. We are also hunting in the back of our closet to find our fall centerpiece and the cute little turkey candles. I was reminiscing about my childhood Thanksgiving dinners since my sister and I helped my mom prepare for the big day. We usually invited my grandfather and  grandmother as well as my great uncle and aunt from my mom’s side of the family over to enjoy dinner with us. We feasted on roast turkey with all the trimmings which also included mashed potatoes with gravy, stuffing, frozen cranberry salad, green bean casserole and of course pumpkin pie with real whip cream from our small town creamery. Next, all the men and boys would watch the football game while the women and girls would laugh and chat as we we washed and dried the dishes. We didn’t have a dishwasher in those days but we never even missed it.

Recipe type: side or main dish
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 11 servings
  • 8 oz uncooked wild rice, rinsed or 1½ cups rice if purchased in bulk
  • 8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 15 oz can of no salt added chicken broth, or broth saved from roasted chicken or turkey
  • ⅓ cup slivered almonds
  • ⅓ cup dried cranberries or dried cherries
  • 2 TB Promise soft tub margarine
  1. Rinse your wild rice in a small colander. Toast the almonds in your skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently until evenly toasted. Set aside. Place the toasted almonds and chicken broth in a glass covered pyrex-type dish. Melt the soft tub margarine (or butter if you prefer) in a skillet. Add the mushrooms and saute. Remove the mushrooms with a slotted spoon and add to the chicken broth. Add the wild rice to the remaining margarine in the skillet just until all of the liquid is absorbed, about 1-2 minutes. Place the broth, almonds and mushroom mixture in a well oiled (or spray with non-stick spray) casserole dish. Add wild rice and stir until well combined. Cover the casserole dish and bake at 300-degrees for 45-60 minutes.. All of the liquid should be absorbed. Remove the casserole dish from the oven . Carefully remove the cover to let the steam escape. Add the dried cranberries or cherries and gently stir in. Place the cover on again and let sit until the casserole is cooled off and the dried fruit is moist. Serve immediately.
I modified the above recipe and added 1 cup finely chopped celery to the recipe also. If you use the celery in the recipe, saute it with the mushrooms. If you are not on a sodium restricted diet, consider adding ½ tsp of salt to the recipe and fold in just before baking. The sodium content of each ½ cup serving would then increase to 133 mg of sodium per serving. The recipe is also very good if you add 2 TB of turkey broth (from your roasted turkey) to the wild rice at the table.
Nutritional information for the recipe was calculated using http://nutritiondata.self,com/facts/recipe
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ½ cup cooked Calories: 144 Fat: 5 grams Saturated fat: 0 grams Trans fat: 0 grams Carbohydrates: 20 grams Sodium: 33 mg Fiber: 2 grams Protein: 6 grams Cholesterol: 0 mg

My husband and I usually spend Thanksgiving with my mother in law Greta.  My favorite food is always the wild rice side dish that she prepares. She shared her recipe with me over the phone. She doesn’t have the recipe written down since it is in her head. First of all, she cooks up her wild rice on her stove, preparing about eight servings according to the wild rice package instructions. Next, she will saute approximately 1  cup each chopped onions, celery and fresh mushrooms in butter until well cooked.  She then adds 2 TB of soy sauce to the sauteed vegetables and stirs this in. The last step of the recipe is to place your cooked wild rice and sauteed vegetable mixture in your serving dish and toss together lightly and serve immediately. Now this is a wild rice recipe to die for! The picture below shows Greta and I relaxing on our garden patio last summer.

Greta and Becky relaxing on the garden patio

Enjoy your time together with your family members and friends this Thanksgiving and be sure to thank God for your many blessings. We can be thankful that we live in a nation  in which we have the freedom to vote for our leaders and may choose to worship in the religion of our choose. Many people in other countries do not take these same privileges for granted. The United States is also the bread basket of the world and although some people in our country do not take good meals and easy access to food for granted, the majority of us have been blessed to have enough for ourselves and our family to eat. We also have great organizations such as the Salvation Army and food pantries to help those in need.

Wild rice is a very nutritious food. It is a very good source of dietary fiber, protein, magnesium and phosphorous.  One quarter cup of uncooked wild rice  contains 170 calories, 0.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and sodium, 35 grams of carbohydrate and 2 grams of fiber.  It is very filling due to its fiber content and  can be used in soups, casseroles, stuffing and side dishes. It is a very popular food at Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners here in Minnesota but is actually very good any time of the year. This grain’s use  dates back as far as 12000 years ago. It has been a staple of Native American diets for centuries.  Minnesotans have also enjoyed this healthy food for more than  150 years.  I was searching for just the right wild rice recipe to feature in my Thanksgiving blog and came across the above recipe for Cranberry (or Cherry) Wild Rice on the Moose Lake Wild Rice website. This recipe is from Terri Worrath, one of the owners of the Moose Lake Wild Rice Company. I spoke to their website designer on the telephone and was granted permission to share this recipe in my blog. This company sells wild rice that is 100% naturally grown  in the clear lakes and rivers of northern Minnesota and Canada. According to their web site, this is real wild rice or what many people refer to as organic wild rice. It has not been genetically modified. The website includes interesting information about wild rice and its harvest, recipes, how to purchase their wild rice and a preparation guide for wild rice. The website is . The company is located at 35653 Johnson Road, Deer Lake, MN 56636. Their telephone number is (218) 246-2159.

Wild rice is grown and harvested mainly in the great lakes states of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. Maine and Canada also grow and harvest wild rice. Wild rice is still harvested by hand by many Native Americans and farmers using their canoes and wooden paddles to bring in the harvest here in Minnesota. Other farmers with many acres of wild rice harvest it using specially adapted combines View the very interesting process of harvesting wild rice by clicking on the links provided below.




























































Pumpkin ‘N Spice Latte

Brrrr, it sure is cold outside here in Minnesota or should I say Minnesnowta! We have had unseasonably chilling temperatures and early snowfall this November for the last two weeks. The normal daytime high this time of year is 35-40 degrees and it hasn’t got above 10 degrees on some days. The picture below shows that my pumpkin lawn ornament sure looks lonely and out of place in our snow bank in the back yard!

Pumpkin Ornament is snowed in MN.

To warm up on these cold days, plan to prepare a Pumpkin ‘N spice Latte. You can enjoy a mug of this delightful latte at home in your kitchen as you read the morning paper. It is also the perfect afternoon beverage at your desk at work  or home. If you work, bring the combined ingredients in a covered container and refrigerate until serving time and then microwave. This is also the perfect drink to sip on in your three season porch as you look out the window on our wonderful fall or winter like scenery.

One serving of my recipe for Pumpkin ‘N Spice Latte contains only 115 calories, 3 grams of fat, 79 mg sodium and 13 grams of carbohydrate if you use the Stevia sweetener. If you use sugar or the Organic Blue Agave sweetener, the recipe would contain 175 calories and 28 grams of carbohydrate and all other values are the same.The cost per serving for this recipe is 48 cents per serving using sugar, 58 cents per serving using the Stevia and 68 cents per serving using the Organic Blue agave sweetener. I purchased my groceries for the recipe at Walmart so I am using their prices when calculating the cost per serving.  I purchased the Organic Blue Agave sweetener at Trader Joes since it was not available at my local Walmart grocery store. If you prefer to use organic products you can substitute the organic coffee, milk, vanilla, pumpkin and spices from your local food coop, health section of Hy Vee grocery stores, Whole foods or Trader Joe’s grocery stores.


You can save quite a bit of money and ensure that more wholesome ingredients are in your Pumpkin Spice Latte by preparing this at home. This recipe has no additives or preservatives added. Pumpkin Spice Lattes purchased at fast food restaurants such as Duncan Donuts, Mc Donalds and Starbucks may have additional additives and preservatives added, so if you are concerned about this you can contact the company for a list of ingredients or google this information on your smart phone or computer. There are also some allegations that some of the commercial Pumpkin Spice Lattes sold at fast food restaurants do not actually contain any pumpkin!  A nutritional comparison reveals that a Starbucks 12 oz tall Pumpkin Spice Latte using non-fat milk and two tablespoons of added whip cream contains 200 calories, 6 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fats, 30 mg of cholesterol, 170 mg of sodium. 40 grams of carbohydrate and 11 grams of protein. If you decide to splurge and order the Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks with whole milk and 2 TB of whipped cream, this creamier version contains 330 calories, 14 grams fat, 9 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 50 mg of cholesterol, 40 grams of carbohydrates and 11 grams of protein.  You can decide if it is really worth it! One hour of walking burns approximately 300-400 calories. The cost per 12 oz serving of the Starbucks version is $4.00. I know that they have a great atmosphere and free wifi at Starbucks but you are going to pay a quite a bit extra for these amenities than if you stayed at home and prepared it. A similar sized Pumpkin Spice Latte at Mc Donalds and Duncan Donuts will cost you approximately $3.00 per serving.


Pumpkin has a very healthy profile as well. One half cup of pumpkin contains only 50 calories, 5 mg of sodium and 10 grams of carbohydrate. One half cup also provides you with 3 grams of fiber which has a very filling effect, since the fiber content slows digestion time. Pumpkin is also a rich source of nutrients. One half of a cup provides 200% of the Percent Daily Value for Vitamin A, 70% of which is beta-carotene and 4% of the DV for Vitamin C. Beta-carotene is great for our eyes and skin and may also fight against some forms of cancer such as prostate and lung cancer according to some research studies. Vitamin A and C act as a cell defense  squad since they are both antioxidants and act as shields for your cells against cancer-causing free radicals.

The milk in the latte recipe provides us with bone building and protecting calcium and Vitamin D, as well as vitamin A, Vitamin B12 and is a good source of protein. If you choose to substitute soy or almond milk in place of cow’s milk in the recipe, be sure to check your food label to be sure that they are fortified with calcium and Vitamin D.

My recipe also includes the spice cinnamon. Cinnamon has been consumed since 2000 BC in ancient Egypt where it was considered to be very precious and they used it among other things to treat sore throats, coughs and arthritis. Modern research also indicates that this spice may have some very beneficial properties. There are two main types of cinnamon, Ceylon cinnamon which is most commonly used in the western world and Cassia or Chinese cinnamon which originates from southern China and is less expensive than the Ceylon cinnamon. Cinnamon may also help control blood sugar and lipid (cholesterol) levels according to a study published in Diabetes Care magazine. Cinnamon may also help prevent Alzheimer’s disease according to research done at Tel Aviv University in Israel. An extract found in cinnamon bark called CEppt contains important properties that may actually inhibit the development of the disease. Cinnamon may also help stop the destructive neurological process in Multiple Sclerosis (MS) according to studies done at Rush University Medical Center. The National Institutes of Health research studies have also found that a compound found in Cassia cinnamon may help fight fungal and bacterial infections.Cinnamon can be added to latte and cappuccino coffee drinks, hot cereals such as oatmeal, muffins, cakes, scones. apple pie, sweet potatoes, squash, cakes and fruit crisps.


Pumpkin ‘N Spice Latte at my cozy kitchen table











Recipe type: beverage
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 serving
  • 6 oz 1% milk or almond or soy milk
  • 2 TB fresh pureed or canned pumpkin
  • 2 tsp real vanilla extract (not imitation)
  • 1 TB sugar ( or 2 if you want a sweeter drink) or Organic Blue Agave sweetener or 2 packets Stevia sweetener
  • ⅛ tsp cinnamon
  • dash of nutmeg
  • 4 oz of brewed coffee, regular or decaffinated, or ¼ cup expresso
  • Topping:
  • 2 TB Reddi Whip topping or non-dairy whipped topping or real whip cream
  1. Place milk, pumpkin, vanilla extract, sugar or Agave sweetener or Stevia, cinnamon and nutmeg in a 11-12 oz coffee mug. Whisk together until well combined with a small whisk or similar utensil. Microwave for 50 seconds. Add coffee and microwave again for approximately one minute or until well heated. Stir. Spray Reddi Whip topping on the beverage and sprinkle with nutmeg. Serve immediately.
  2. If you would like to double or triple the recipe or make an even larger quantity for a crowd, combine all of the ingredients except for the whipped topping in a crockpot, Whisk together ingredients and heat on the high setting for 1-2 hours or until hot. Pour into coffee mugs and spray on the Reddi Whip or add whip cream or non-dairy whipped topping, sprinkle with nutmeg and serve immediately.
Recipe's nutrition information for fat, saturated fat and cholesterol content was calculated using the Reddi Whip topping. Nutritional information for the recipes in blog are calculated using If you use the sugar or Agave sweetener in the recipe, the calorie content per serving is 175, 28 grams of carbohydrate, 2 carbohydrate choices and other values are the same as listed in the nutrition information. Nutrition information above is calculated using the Stevia sweetener. When using Stevia, count as 1 carbohydrate choice.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 serving (10-11 oz) Calories: 115 Fat: 3 grams Saturated fat: 1.5 grams Trans fat: 0 grams Carbohydrates: 13 grams Sodium: 79 mg Protein: 6 grams Cholesterol: 8 mg



Sweet potatoes originate from the morning glory family. They have a deep orange colored flesh and are shaped similar to a potato or sometimes are long and tapered at both ends. These vegetables are a nutritional champion due to the fact that they are packed with nutrients such as beta-carotene, potassium, and Vitamin B6. They are also a great source of fiber. Sweet potatoes also have a lower glycemic index, meaning that their carbohydrates are released more slowly in the bloodstream preventing a spike in blood sugar levels. My favorite asset of the sweet potato is its wonderful sweet taste. I love to bake them or pop them into my microwave for a quick side dish. I decided to mash them just like potatoes recently and loved this easy method of preparation and great taste. I have prepared the recipe without the brown sugar with just butter and pepper added for flavor. They taste delicious that way but I especially like the taste when I add either the brown sugar or maple syrup to add a sweeter flavor. My husband Jim likes the recipe version with the maple syrup added the best!

Sweet potatoes can also be roasted with other vegetables such as fresh carrots, broccoli, peppers, cauliflower or parsnips. Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray. Add bite sized pieces of these types of vegetables, drizzle with a small amount of olive or canola oil and add  herbs and spices such as cracked pepper or one of your favorite varieties of Mrs. Dash spice blend. Roast in a 425- degree oven for 50-60 minutes or until the vegetables are fork tender. Sweet potatoes are also good in soups, homemade sweet potato fries or pies. Sweet potato pie is a favorite dessert in many southern states. The sweet potato fries can be easily prepared by first peeling your sweet potatoes and slicing them lengthwise into the shape of a french fry. Pour a small amount of olive or canola oil into a small bowl. Dip your fries into the oil. Season with salt, pepper or Mrs. Dash spice blend. Place the fries on a cookie sheet and bake in a preheated 425-degree oven for 25 minutes. Serve immediately.


Mashed Sweet Potatoes Minnesota Style

Autumn Menu of Sweet and Sour Pork Loin Chops, Mashed Sweet Potatoes Minnesota Style, Autumn Salad and Fall Fruit Fiesta


Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Recipe type: Side Dish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • four small or 3 large sweet potatoes or one medium sized butternut squash
  • 2 tsp butter, soft tub margarine or coconut oil
  • 3 TB chopped walnuts
  • 1 TB pure Maple Syrup
  1. Peel four small or 3 large sweet potatoes. Slice squash or sweet potatoes into 2 inch pieces. Place in a microwave safe container. Add ⅓ cup of water. Microwave for 6-9 minutes on high
  2. setting. (The time will vary dependent upon the wattage of your microwave.) Test sweet potatoes with a fork to ensure tenderness. Mash with a fork or potato masher to a soft consistency similar to mashed sweet potatoes Add 2 tsp butter, soft tub margarine or coconut oil. Add chopped walnuts and stir in until well combined. Lastly, add maple syrup and combine well before serving. Season with a dash of pepper.
If you decide to add the brown sugar or maple syrup, the nutritional content of the recipe per serving would be: 119 calories, 19 grams carbohydrate. all other nutritional content is the same. Count as 1 carb choice with or without the addition of brown sugar. The Splenda brown sugar substitute may also be used in place of brown sugar.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ¾ cup Calories: 155 Fat: 7 grams Saturated fat: 1.5 grams Unsaturated fat: 5.5 grams Trans fat: 0 grams Carbohydrates: 19 Sodium: 30 mg Fiber: 3 grams Protein: 2 grams Cholesterol: 3 mg


My niece Maria, fellow food blogger

I would like to dedicate my my very first and second food and nutrition blog posts to my niece Maria who authors a food and nutrition blog concerning clean eating and Paleo diet friendly recipes called Maria Makes Muffins which I love to read. Her recipes are very healthy and delicious also!  Maria assisted me in designing my first blog post and taught me how to blog on Word Press. I would also like to dedicate this blog to the late Jo Anna Lund. Jo Anna authored the Healthy Exchanges recipe newsletter and many cookbooks over the years. She was a native of De Witt, Iowa and always said that her recipes were for “common folk”.  If the ingredients for her recipes could not be found in her small town grocery store, they would not appear in her newsletter. Her recipes were designed for people who were controlling their weight and others on special dietary restrictions such as carbohydrate controlled for diabetes, cholesterol restricted etc. She had a consultant registered dietitian calculate the exchanges, carb choices and other nutritional information.  Jo Anna became very successful and hosted a weekly radio show in De Witt and was featured in  national publications such as The New York times, People and Forbes.  Jo Anna offered health professionals a free subscription to her newsletters. I frequently shared the recipes from the newsletters and cookbooks with my patients when I was employed as an out-patient dietitian. Jo Anna passed away at age 61 in 2006 from invasive breast cancer. She has gone to her heavenly home now, but she is not forgotten!


the late JoAnna Lund, Healthy Exchanges Newsletter and cookbook author

The above photograph was featured in the Quad City Times in 2006.



Enjoying the Autumn splendor by Fountain Lake

Recipe type: Dessert or salad
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6 servings
  • 2 small apples chopped and seeded
  • 2 cups red or green grapes
  • 2 kiwi peeled and sliced
  • 1 ½ cups chopped fresh or canned unsweetened pineapple, drained
  • ½ cup chopped nuts (walnuts sliced almonds or pecans are good)
  • 6 TB Reddi Whip spray topping or 6 TB vanilla, nonfat yogurt, regular or no sugar added
  • 6 tsp ground flaxseed
  1. Combine the fruit and toss gently and refrigerate until serving time. At serving time, place fruit into an individual salad bowl or parfait glass. Top each serving with either 1
  2. TB of vanilla non-fat (and sugar free if desired) or 1 TB Reddi Whip. Sprinkle1 tsp .ground flaxseed over the topping. Garnish by adding one maraschino cherry on top of each parfait if desired..If you are a Milk Free Diet, substitute either soy or almond milk yogurt in place of the regular yogurt or Reddi Whip topping.
  3. Makes 6 servings:
  4. NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION PER SERVING: 137 calories, 3 grams fat, 1 gram protein, 22 grams carbohydrate, 5 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol, fat, saturated fat and trans fat, 3 grams fiber, 1.5 carbohydrate choices
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ⅙ recipe Calories: 137 Fat: 3 grams Saturated fat: 0 grams Trans fat: 0 grams Carbohydrates: 22 grams Sodium: 5 mg Fiber: 3 grams Protein: 1 gram Cholesterol: 0 mg


Fall Fiesta Fruit Parfait


The Fall Fiesta Fruit Parfait completes my Awesome Autumn Menu. It is the perfect tasty, light and nutritious dessert. You certainly won’t feel guilty after eating this dessert!

We grow two of the fall fruits featured in the parfait above here in Minnesota. Many varieties of apples are available in apple orchards in our state during the fall months. Visiting an apple orchard and purchasing apples just picked off the tree is a favorite fall weekend activity here in Minnesota. The old welsh proverb “an apple a day will keep the doctor away” is so true. Apples are an excellent source of fiber and are rich in antioxidants and their peelings contain the flavoinoid Quercetin.  Quercetin can help reduce oxidation and inflammation of neurons according to studies conducted at the at the University of Quebec.  Researchers ar Cornell University conducted a study, published in the Journal of Food Science, which found evidence to suggest that apples may help protect neuron cells against oxidative stress-induced neurotoxicity which could reduce the risk of developing disorders such as Alzheimer’s Disease. Apples may also reduce the incidence of thrombotic strokes, diabetes, heart disease and breast cancer according to other medical research studies that were conducted. Apples are also very tasty as a snack and are good in recipes for cakes, muffins, fruit crisps and pies. One cup of chopped apples contains 65 calories, 17 grams of carbohydrate, 1 gram of protein, 0 grams fat, and 3 grams of fiber. Try to include approximately 25 grams of dietary fiber per day.

Different varieties of grapes are grown in Minnesota. We have several wineries here in southern Minnesota which process the grapes that they grow into wine. Red grapes contain resveratrol, which is a polyphenol antioxidant which provides anti-inflammatory and antiestrogenic properties. Resveratrol may also activate the enzymes of the liver that rid our bodies of unwanted chemical compounds according to the American Cancer Society. Resveratrol thus may play a role in preventing cancer as well as heart disease according to medical research studies that have taken place in recent years. One cup of grapes contains 104 calories, 27  grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 0 grams fat and 1 gram of protein. Grapes are a great snack or addition to fruit salads and other salads such as chopped chicken or turkey breast  combined with mayonnaise, water chestnuts, chopped green peppers and slivered almonds.

Friday, November 14 was World Diabetes Day and many educational programs for people with diabetes were offered by health professionals around the nation and world. The Fall Fruit Fiesta Parfait contains 22 grams of carbohydrate per serving and can be adjusted into a carbohydrate controlled meal plan for diabetes. It counts as 1 1/2 carbohydrate choices per serving. If you have further questions concerning adjustment of this recipe or my other recipes featured in the Awesome Autumn Menu, please contact your physician, certified diabetes educator or registered dietitian who prescribed your diabetes meal plan for you. I do not intend to provide medical advice in this food and nutrition blog but would like to offer suggestions for healthy foods and nutritious recipes that you can prepare for your meals and snacks.

The Fall Fruit Fiesta Parfait is topped with 1 tsp of ground flaxseed to offer a crunchy flavor. Ground flaxseed can be added to foods such as dry or cooked cereals, smoothies, yogurt, salads, pancakes and waffles. You can also add it to baked goods such as quick breads, muffins and cakes. Ground flaxseed is a good source of fiber, lignins and Omega-3 fatty acid. The antioxidant lignins bind with circulating substances that can promote unchecked cell growth, so they may actually help prevent some types of cancer. Flaxseeds contain 75 more times of lignins than most other plant foods. Two tablespooons of ground flaxseed contain 2400 mg of Omega-3 fatty acids, 60 calories, 4.5 grams fat,  0.5 grams saturated fat,  3.4 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 1 gram of monounsaturated fat, 0 grams of trans fats, 0 mg cholesterol,  4 grams of carbohydrate, 4 grams of dietary fiber ( 3 grams insoluble fiber, 1 gram soluble fiber) and 3 grams of protein. Research studies suggest that Omega-3 fatty acids are protective against heart disease and can help harmful levels of LDL , the “bad” cholesterol drop, while the HDL or ” good” cholesterol remains the same. Flaxseed is a good source of soluble fiber also, which is thought to  offer protection against heart disease as well.


Awesome Autumn Menu

The awesome autumn menu includes Sweet and sour Pork Loin Chops, Mashed Sweet Potatoes Minnesota Style, Autumn Salad and Fall Fruit Fiesta Parfait. I had so much fun preparing for this meal. I found a favorite pretty tablecloth with strawberries, which are my favorite fruit. I had packed the tablecloth away in a drawer and had not used it in years. I also used some china table settings, fostoria salad plates and fostoria parfait glasses that had belonged to my grandmother. Of course, I had them displayed in my china cabinet, but I had to dust them off and wash them before setting the table. It is funny how we put away our good china and favorite tableware for “good” and end up using them twice a year. We need to celebrate our favorite treasures more and use them more frequently. It is amazing how much better a good meal tastes when it is served on the good china and with an attractively set table. It is fun and my husband enjoyed the dining experience much more as well! If you don’t get out to a restaurant for your weekly date night with your husband or romance interest, prepare a delicious meal together, get out the good china, turn on your favorite romantic music, light the candles and enjoy a glass of red wine or sparkling grape juice with your meal.  Bon Appetit!



Autumn Salad

This recipe for Autumn Salad is a great addition to many types of meals such as special dinners  or can accompany a bowl of soup or sandwich at lunch time. You can also make a main dish out of it by adding protein such as chicken or turkey breast. Vegans can simply add chopped tofu for a healthy meal. Vegetarians who consume dairy products may find that crumbled blue cheese adds a special touch to their salad. The Autumn Salad would also be a very flavorful and seasonal side dish at your Thanksgiving meal. I decided to pair the salad with my Autumn Menu of Sweet and Sour Pork Chops, Mashed Sweet Potatoes Minnesota Style and Fall Fruit Fiesta. The recipe for the pork loin chops appeared in my blog on 11-11-14 and the sweet potatoes in my blog on 11-12-14.  The recipe for Fall Fruit Fiesta will appear in my upcoming blog on 11-15-14. November is National Diabetes Month and Friday. November 14 is World Diabetes Day. The autumn salad can  be adjusted into a carbohydrate controlled meal plan for diabetes. In fact, the entire Awesome Autumn Menu is very carbohydrate controlled and diabetes diet friendly as long as you adjust each recipe accordingly into your physician, certified diabetes educator or registered dietitian prescribed meal plan. If you have diabetes and decide to prepare the entire Awesome Autumn Menu and serve for your meal, the entire meal counts as 4 1/2 carbohydrate choices if you use the portion size listed on each of the recipes. If you have further questions concerning adjustment into your meal plan, please contact your physician, certified diabetes educator or registered dietitian for further information and medical advice concerning this. This blog is not intended to provide medical advice but rather to help you enjoy nutritious food in moderation.



Autumn Salad


Autumn Salad
Recipe type: Salad
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6 servings
  • 4 cups raw spinach
  • 6 TB dried cranberries
  • 2 cups chopped and seeded apples
  • 6 TB chopped avocado
  • 6 TBchopped walnuts
  • ⅓ cup each water, apple cider or red wine vinegar
  • 3 TB extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 TB sugar or 2 packets Stevia sugar substitute
  • ⅛ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 TB Italian Seasoning
  • ⅛ tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp Thyme
  1. Place 6 salad bowls or plates on your preparation area. The salad will be layered on the salad plates or bowls. Divide the spinach among the 6 salad plate or bowls. Place spinach on the plates. Next add 1 TB of the chopped avocados on top of the spinach. Add the next layer of chopped apples to the plates. Sprinkle 1 TB of dried cranberries on each salad. Top the salad with 1 TB of chopped walnuts per salad.
  2. Place ingredients for salad dressing in a jar. Add the lid to the jar and shake the jar until well until all the ingredients are well blended. Add 2 Tb of salad dressing to each salad.
  3. If desired you may add all of the salad dressing ingredients in a salad bowl and toss the salad. Add dressing and toss the salad again until well combined.
The nutritional information of the recipe was calculated using Splenda as the sweetener in the recipe.If you use sugar, the nutrition content per serving would change as follows: 176 calories, 29 grams carbohydrates.The salad counts as 2 carbohydrate choices.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ⅙ of recipe Calories: 166 Fat: 11 grams Saturated fat: 1 gram Trans fat: 0 grams Carbohydrates: 27 Sodium: 24 mg Fiber: 5 grams Protein: 1 gram Cholesterol: 0 mg

The salad is not only delicious but contains many “super foods” that pack a big nutritional punch! I will discuss three of the ingredients of the salad in this blog, spinach, cranberries and walnuts.

Bright, vibrant spinach leaves are very eye appealing and an excellent source of antioxidants which fight off the ” bad guy” free radicals. Antioxidants protect your body from the damaging effects of oxidation. Oxidation is a natural process that occurs in nature. As oxygen interacts with the cells of any type, an apple slice or the cells lining an internal organ such as your lungs, oxidation occurs. The apple slice becomes brown in color when exposed to oxygen.When these free radicals begin to attack your body, they can eventually injure the cells, damaging the DNA, which creates the sequence for diseases such as cancer to occur.  Fruits and vegetables are an excellent source of antioxidants.

Spinach is also a good source of fiber, Vitamin K, Vitamin A, folate, magnesium, iron, copper, potassium, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin C. When purchasing spinach, choose deep green leaves and stems with no sign of yellowing. The leaves should appear fresh and tender and not be wilted or bruised. Do not wash spinach before storing in your refrigerator since exposure to water encourages spoilage. Place the spinach in a covered glass or plastic container or plastic storage bag. It will keep fresh for about 5 days. Check the expiration date on your spinach when you purchase it in the grocery store and purchase the freshest spinach possible.

I grew spinach in my garden last summer and I picked it almost daily until spinach season was over. It was one of the first vegetables that I harvested out of my garden.

spinach plants grown in my garden last summer

Long before the colonists arrived in America, the American Indians were using cranberries. The Native Americans were using cranberries not only for a food, but also as a dye as well as for medicinal purposes. It was often used as a poultice to heal wounds. I remember learning that the Indians introduced cranberries to the pilgrims in elementary school. The pilgrims served cranberries among other foods at their first Thanksgiving meal.

Cranberries are a good source of Vitamin C, antioxidants and fiber. Cranberries were taken along as a staple on sea voyages for sailors to consume to help prevent scurvy. We have probably all heard that cranberry juice and cranberries can help prevent bladder infections. Cranberries contain proanthocyandins,  also called tannins which prevent bacteria, including the E coli bacteria from adhering to the urinary tract. Cranberries also contain the flavonoid Quercetin which has anti-inflammatory properties. Cranberries are also rich in pectin. This is the reason why they quickly cook up into a sauce. Cranberries are also very low in calories and carbohydrate content in their natural state. My salad recipe contains dried cranberries which are a good source of fiber and nutrition. Dried cranberries are much higher in calorie and carbohydrate content than fresh cranberries so don’t eat them by the handful if you are trying to limit your calorie and carbohydrate intake. Dried cranberries can be added in small amounts to fruit and vegetable salads and are good in snack mix, cookie, quick bread and  muffin recipes.  My recipe above just calls for 1 tablespoon of dried cranberries per salad to keep the calorie and carbohydrate content of the salad lower.

Last but not least, walnuts are an excellent source of fiber, copper, manganese, biotin, Vitamin E, antioxidants as well as omega-3 fatty acid.  Omega-3 fatty acids are very heart healthy and can help prevent incidence of heart attacks and blood clots.  Recent studies indicate that walnuts may also provide a number of neuro protective compounds which can  enhance cognitive and motor function in aging persons. They are also thought to increase reasoning abilities in young adults. Walnuts are a source of heart healthy fat and due to their high fat content, the calorie content is higher per serving. Again, if you are trying to control your calorie intake, don’t eat several handfuls each day. If you are watching your weight, limit walnuts to a two tablespoon serving. Walnuts make a great addition to snack mixes, salads, banana and other quick breads, cookies and muffins.

Autumn Menu is served on my kitchen table in my cozy country kitchen.

Autumn Salad


Sweet and Sour Pork Loin Chops Featured in Awesome Autumn Menu

Autumn is my favorite season although it doesn’t last very long up here in Minnesota.  The leaves are turning beautiful shades of red, yellow and orange and there is a chill in the air.

Autumn is a great time of the year to prepare hot foods such as soup, apple crisp or baked apples, muffins and casseroles.  My husband and I love to sip on hot apple cider as we sit outside in our warm sweatshirts on our front porch.  In fact, most of the leaves have fallen from the trees now but there are still a few brilliant colors to admire in our neighborhood.

My husband Jim sipping apple cider on our front porch with our dog

I was listening to my favorite song recently and was singing along when I received an inspired idea for a new way to prepare lean pork loin chops in my crock pot. I grabbed a pen and paper and wrote down the few simple ingredients as they popped into my mind. I prepared the marinate recipe and taste tested it. It was very tasty and a new recipe was created again that day!  This recipe is quick and easy to prepare and great for women or men working outside the home who want a quick main meal to make in their crock pot and enjoy later. It is also great for the person who simply wants to enjoy a healthy main dish without a lot of effort or preparation time!

My husband affectionately refers to me as “Honeydew”. Perhaps this is because I leave him so many “honey do” lists of projects and chores that I would like him to complete around the house! The name Honeydews Kitchen for my blog was inspired by my love for cooking in my country kitchen and my nickname Honeydew.

I was out enjoying the beautiful autumn splendor along Mississippi River in northeastern Iowa two weekends ago.  I walked down closer to the riverfront intending to get a great picture of the scenery and accidentally stepped off a concrete landing and tumbled down spraining my ankle and breaking my heel. Below is a view of the hiking trails at Pike’s Peak State Park. I enjoyed a nice hike and breathtaking views before my unfortunate fall.  I am now in a splint and may need to have a cast put on my foot next week. Since I will be laid up for awhile and winter weather is quickly approaching us in Minnesota, this is a good time for me to take up a hobby such as blogging. I am very excited since this is my very first blog and I want to share my passion of writing and healthy living with my readers. I do have a small non-motorized scooter to rest my right knee on and elevate my foot while I propel myself with my left foot so I can get around quite nicely with this!  It even has handlebars and a brake.  Look out, here I come on my scooter!.

Awesome View at Pike’s Peak State Park, Mc Gregor, IA.

Due to this current situation with my foot, I am definitely planning to prepare quick and easy, yet nutritious meals. The crock pot really comes in handy at a time like this!  I served the following meal recently and it was a hit with my husband!   I am featuring the recipe for the Sweet and Sour Pork Loin Chops today and will include the recipes for the rest of my autumn menu in later blog posts this week.

Autumn Menu

Sweet and Sour Pork Loin Chops
Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Autumn Salad
Fall Fruit Fiesta


Sweet and Sour Pork Loin Chops
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
  • four 4 oz pork loin chops
  • Marinate Recipe:
  • 2 TB Apple Cider Vinegar
  • ½ cup Brown Sugar or 12 packets Stevia or ½ cup Splenda brown sugar substitute
  • 2 TB Soy Sauce, Reduced Sodium version
  • 1 cup of unsweetened Pineapple Juice
  1. Combine marinate ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together. Place pork loin chops in your crockpot. Season each chop with a dash of cumin Add marinate, Turn the crockpot on the high setting and cook for 2 ½ to 3 hours.
  2. Recipe Variation: If you would like to bake the recipe instead of using your crock pot, place chops in a baking dish, season and pour the marinate over your chops Cover your baking dish.. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour. You may substitute skinless chicken breasts in place of pork chops.
  3. Cut each breast in half so that it is a three ounce portion. If you want to use a larger portion of chicken or pork, your crock pot cooking time and baking time will be longer.
  4. If you choose or need to restrict sugar or refined carbohydrates in your diet, substitute Stevia or Splenda brown sugar substitute in place of brown sugar. You may also add 1 tsp of maple flavoring extract if desired.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 Chop with 1 TB Marinate Calories: 127 Fat: 3.5 grams Saturated fat: 1 gram Trans fat: 0 grams Carbohydrates: 7 grams Sodium: 60 mg Fiber: 0 mg Protein: 17 grams Cholesterol: 37 mg


NOTE: The above recipe counts as 1/2 carb choices.  If you use the Stevia or Splenda brown sugar substitute in place of the brown sugar, the carbohydrate content would be 2 grams per serving and count as a free food using 1 TB marinate with your pork chop .The calorie content per serving would be 101 calories.


The above recipe nutritional information for the recipe was calculated using the following link

Brown rice can be either substituted for the sweet potatoes in the menu above or you can add brown rice to the menu. I prepare my brown rice in my rice cooker and this is so quick and easy. The marinate for the Sweet and Sour Pork Loin Chops is a very tasty when served on the brown rice and this way, the marinade won’t go to waste.

Brown rice is a whole grain food as well as a good source of fiber, iron and B-vitamins. If you are adjusting brown rice into a carbohydrate controlled meal plan for diabetes, 1/3 cup counts as 1 carbohydrate choice. People with diabetes or others who need to limit sugars and concentrated carbohydrates in their diet may choose to substitute the Stevia or Splenda brown sugar substitute in the recipe for the Sweet and Sour Pork Loin Chops.