PUMPKIN ‘N SPICE LATTE

Brr, there is a chill in the air. It is the last week of October and 75% of the colorful fall leaves have fallen from the trees here in Minnesota. We had a high temperature of 52 degrees today but there will be one final heatwave of this Indian summer since temperatures are predicted to be a sunny and warm 70 degrees tomorrow just in time for the weekend! We like to sit out on out front porch and sip on hot Pumpkin N Spice Lattes or hot apple cider this time of year and enjoy every minute outside that we can since we know that winter weather with cold wet snow and ice is just around the corner. On the bright side, that means Christmas is coming! Since Halloween is next week, I enjoy enjoy preparing recipes using pumpkin this time of year. Just love this latte recipe as well as pumpkin muffins and pumpkin bread. I saw a recipe for pumpkin soup on a recipe blog that I would like to try. I also plan on creating a pumpkin smoothie recipe very soon since I love my breakfast smoothies!

Pumpkin ‘N Spice Latte

I tried the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte a couple of years ago and went to work in my kitchen to create a very similar tasting beverage with fewer calories and no artificial flavors or additives. The homemade version is very economical too compared to purchasing this beverage. You can expect to pay $3.00-$5.00 for one serving of this beverage at your local Mc Donalds, Starbucks or Caribou coffee. A nutritional comparison reveals that the Starbucks 12 oz Pumpkin Spice Latte using non-fat milk and 2 tablespoons of whipped cream contains 200 calories, 6 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 30 mg of cholesterol, 170 mg of sodium, 40 grams of carbohydrate and 11 grams of protein. Made with whole milk, the calories increase to 330, as well as 14 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 50 mg of cholesterol. The protein and carbohydrate content remain the same when prepared with whole milk. Plan to walk for 30-60 minutes to burn this off!

Autumn Garden

PUMPKIN 'N SPICE LATTE
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 serving
 
Ingredients
  • 5 oz almond or 1% milk
  • 2 TB fresh pureed or canned pumpkin
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla or almond extract
  • 1 tsp granulated Stevia or 1 TB sugar or Agave Nectar
  • ⅛ tsp cinnamon
  • a dash of nutmeg
  • 7 of brewed coffee
  • Topping:
  • 2 TB Reddi Whip topping or non-dairy topping such as whipped coconut milk
Instructions
  1. Place milk, coffee, vanilla or almond extract, pumpkin, sweetener and spices in a 12 oz mug. Whisk together until well combined. If desired, you may place these ingredients into your magic bullet or blender and blend until smooth and pour into your tall coffee mug. Microwave for 60-70 seconds until the beverage is hot. Spray the Reddi Whip topping on the beverage and sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice if desired. Serve immediately. You may substitute ¼ tsp pumpkin pie spice in place of the nutmeg and cinnamon in this recipe if desired.
Notes
The recipe was calculated using the Stevia sweetener and almond milk. Nutrition information was calculated using My Fitness Pal recipe calculator.

If desired, add 1 scoop (approximately 1 TB) of vanilla protein powder to the recipe and blend this with the other ingredients in a blender or nutribullet prior to heating to increase the protein content of the beverage.

Information in this food blog is not intended to be medical advice. Consult your personal health care provider for medical and nutritional advice for yourself.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 12 oz Calories: 111 Fat: 3 grams Saturated fat: 0.5 Trans fat: 0 grams Carbohydrates: 6 grams Sodium: 79 mg Protein: 1 gram Cholesterol: 0 mg

 

Pumpkin has a very healthy nutritional profile as well. One half cup of pumpkin contains only 50 calories, 5 mg of sodium, 10 grams of carbohydrate and 3 grams of fiber. Pumpkin is very filling due to the fiber content and the thick creamy consistency. Pumpkin is a rich source of nutrients. One half cup provides 200% of the Daily Value for Vitamin A, 70% of which is beta-carotene and also provides 4% of the Daily Value for Vitamin C. Beta carotene if important for our eye and skin health and also fights some forms of cancer such as prostrate and lung cancer according to some research studies on this nutrient. Vitamin A and Vitamin C act as a cell defense squad since they are both antioxidants and act as shields for your cells against cancer causing free radicals.

We love to take fall leaf watching tours this time of year. Nature certainly shows the awesome handiwork of God in this earth! Enjoy these scenic fall photos that we shot with our camera.

Beautiful waterfalls, Minneopa Park, Mankato
Waterfalls at Minneopa State Park, Mankato, MN
Scenic Overlook of the falls at Minneopa State Park
Autumn Scene, Minneopa State Park, Mankato
Scenic Overlook of the Mississippi River, Alma Wisconsin
Beautiful Seven Mile Creek Park, north of Mankato, MN
Colorful Seven Mile Creek Park
A small creek wanders through Seven Mile Park.

 

Exploring Minneopa Park, Mankato, MN
Fall Splendor at Seven Mile Park, north of Mankato, MN
Overlooking the Mississippi river near Alma, Wisconsin
Hummingbird feeding on the flowers

 

 

SUMMER BLUEBERRY CHICKEN SALAD

Alas, summer is quickly passing us by and fall is approaching. It’s no secret that summer is my favorite season, fall comes in with a close second due to all of the beautiful colors of the leaves during Autumn. Spring ranks right behind as third since it’s a time of new beginnings and is so green and lush.  No surprise, but winter trails behind in fourth place because of the cold howling wind and lack of bright colors. I don’t participate in skiing, ice fishing or snow mobiling much and I would just as soon sit inside by a warm fire near the fireplace sipping on hot chocolate than to be outside that time of year. The end of summer isn’t all bad since this is the time of year that us Minnesotans harvest our gardens. I have a bumper crop of tomatoes and green peppers this year. My kale crop was lush and green as well but my squash, spinach and lettuce crop didn’t fare so well. Some nasty critters attacked my squash plants. I planted my spinach and lettuce from seeds instead of from plants this year and they refused to grow in my garden. We enjoyed only one squash this year, gave up on the greens that didn’t come up and planted flowers over them. Low and behold, lettuce was coming up in my flower garden recently. It was only two months late and I had enough to prepare one salad.

I really enjoy creating new recipes, cooking as well as blogging. I took a break from blogging over the summer months since I have not posted a food blog since last April. I promise to be more faithful and post a new food blog at least once a month. I was pleasantly surprised to read some encouraging, positive comments  from my blog audience and this has motivated me to continue writing and creating healthy. easy to prepare recipes. I love to include nutritious, tasty food in my diet but I don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen either!

SUMMER BLUEBERRY CHICKEN SALAD
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups sliced grilled skinless chicken breast
  • 1 cup sliced green, red or yellow peppers
  • 8 sliced small roma or cherry tomatoes
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds or chopped walnuts
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 4 cups mixed salad greens
  • Honey Vinaigrette Dressing
  • 4 oz each honey, apple cider vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and water
  • ¼ tsp each sea salt, cracked pepper and Italian Seasoning
Instructions
  1. Place salad greens, sliced tomatoes, peppers, blue berries and chicken breast in a large salad bowl and toss gently. Add salad dressing to salad mixture and toss lightly again. Top salad with sliced almonds and serve. To serve individually: Add 1 cup salad green to a salad plate or individual salad bowl. Top salad with sliced tomatoes, peppers, almonds, berries and chicken breast. Drizzle dressing on each salad and serve.
  2. Dressing: Combine all ingredients in a glass jar. Cover and shake well. Refrigerate until serving time. Top salad with this dressing.
Notes
The nutritional information has been calculated for the addition of 2 tablespoons of dressing per serving of salad.

Information presented in this food blog is not intended to serve as medical advice. Please contact your personal health care professional for medical advice.

Plan to serve this salad as a first course for your summer menus or double the recipe to serve as a summer meal.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ¼ recipe Calories: 220 Fat: 10 grams Saturated fat: 1 gram Unsaturated fat: 9 grams Trans fat: 0 grams Carbohydrates: 26 grams Sodium: 126 mg Fiber: 4 grams Protein: 9 grams Cholesterol: 18 mg

 

I love to make a meal out of salads this time of year so I used my garden produce that I had on hand as well as some leftover grilled chicken breast and my favorite fruit blueberries to create this salad. Since I love the taste and health benefits of honey, I experimented in my kitchen and came up with a  Honey Vinaigrette Dressing to serve with my salad. It is very easy to prepare and doesn’t contain all of the preservatives, sugar and sodium that bottled commercial dressings contain. It is also very economical since you can purchase healthy bottled dressings but you will end up paying a premium for the additional health benefits.

Blueberries are a nutritional superstar and one of the best food sources of disease fighting antioxidants. They are also a good source of heart healthy resveratrol,  Vitamin K, Vitamin C and dietary fiber. Blueberries have a host of health benefits in which some scientific studies have concluded that they boost focus and memory, support good digestion, promote heart health and slow the aging process.

Tomatoes are so plentiful this time of year that I not only use them in salads and BLT’s but also use the extra to make salsa, spaghetti sauce and freeze them so I can enjoy them in chilli and casseroles in the cold winter months which lie ahead. Tomatoes are very filling, naturally low in calories and an excellent source of Vitamin C and potassium. Cooked tomato products such as tomato sauce are an excellent source of lycopene. Lycopene has been found to be beneficial in the  prevention prostrate cancer. Below are some pictures that I snapped from my garden recently.

Green peppers are an excellent source of immune system boosting vitamin C, fiber and are also very low in calorie content. Due to my bumper crop of peppers, I am  planning to prepare some stuffed green peppers for dinner tonight and I also add them to salads, scrambled eggs, meatloaf, chilli and tacos. They freeze very well also so you can enjoy them all year long.

Enjoy these last few days of summer and plan on taking some leaf watching trips as autumn approaches. The garden spot below is a beautiful area for my husband and I to enjoy our morning coffee. Bon Appetit!

 

 

CHICKEN NOODLE STIR FRY VEGETABLE SOUP

Chicken noodle soup with vegetables prepared in my cozy kitchen from scratch is one of my husbands and my favorite comfort foods on a cold winter day. I live in Minnesnowta, actually Minnesota and we get plenty of the white stuff and cold during the long winter months here. Some Minnesotans enjoy outdoor sports in the winter such as snowboarding, snowmobiling, ice fishing and ice skating.  Other Minnesota snowbirds, mainly retired folks go down south for the winter and return once again when most of the snow has melted and it is warmer again just in time to see the spring tulips bloom! I am more of an indoor person in the cold weather so I enjoy indoor activities such as cooking, reading and sitting by the fireplace with a cup of hot tea or cocoa during the winter. We did have a heat wave hit over the weekend and it got up into the high thirties so we took our dog out on a walk on one of the many trails by the frozen lake here in our hometown. The ice and snow had finally melted in our driveway and on the side walks so we enjoyed a scenic walk by the lake on this cool, crisp sunny day.  Unfortunately, we had a blizzard with ten inches of snow and high winds yesterday so our sidewalks and driveway are now ice and snow covered again. We do have four seasons to enjoy here in Minnesota so that is nice. I just wish that the winter season didn’t last 5-6 months!

 

Well I am sure your momma made you chicken noodle soup from scratch when you were a kid. She also fed it to me when I had a cold and told me that it was good for me and would help me recover from my cold sooner. This of course and she rubbed Vicks on my chest at night. It sure seemed to help! Turns out that momma was right! Scientific research has proven that it is indeed helpful when you have cold. First, it helps to keep you hydrated since you need eight cups of fluid a day or more for hydration purposes especially when you are ill. Secondly, the steam from the soup helps relieve that congested nose and sore throat.The substances in chicken soup may also reduce the inflammation that occurs when you have a cold. Hot chicken soup seasoned with hot pungent spices such as pepper, chilli pepper, garlic, turmeric and curry powder is a potent mucous stimulant that helps thin out mucous in the mouth, throat and lungs. While chicken soup is not a cure for the common cold, it definitely hastens the healing process!

I love vegetables and I have to admit that broccoli is my favorite veggie with spinach coming in closely in second place since I love spinach salads. Move over lettuce! Stir fry veggies with pea pods are another favorite so that is why I included them in this soup. I never put peas in my tuna casserole; nope I use stir fried vegetables. A compound in broccoli called glucosinolate, produces a metabolite called sulforaphane that is responsible for most of broccoli’s health promoting properties. Sulforaphane has antimicrobial properties, can possibly prevent diabetes from occuring in the body and also kills cancer stem cells. It can also significantly improve blood pressure and kidney function. Broccoli is a great source of dietary fiber and vitamins A and c. Peapods are very good sources of dietary fiber as well as vitamins A, C and folic acid.They also provide powerful antioxidants and enzymes which have cancer fighting properties as well. The recipe also calls for onions and garlic. These foods belong to the allium family of vegetables which are known to have beneficial effects on the cardiovascular and immune systems as well as powerful anti-cancer effects and may also play a role in prevention of diabetes. After completing some research on the allium vegetables recently, I learned that it is best to finely mince or crush fresh garlic and then let it sit awhile before you add it to your recipe. The crushing or mincing of the garlic allows the alliinase enzymes in the food a chance to get working to produce those health promoting effects. Changing the temperature or pH of the garlic by putting it in the recipe right away without letting it sit it for awhile can reduce these healthful properties.  Adding it to your recipe at the end of your cooking time increases the health benefits since long cooking times can reduce the benefits. Mushrooms are also a favorite fungi vegetable of mine and they have many healthful benefits including anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and strong immune-supporting properties. From a culinary aspect mushrooms, onions and garlic add unique flavors and textures to recipes.

Chicken Noodle Stir Fry Vegetable soup

 

Dinner is served!

Dinner with a view!

Welcome to the lake!
This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice & be glad in it. Psalm 118:24
View from my vintage  kitchen and dining area.

 

CHICKEN NOODLE STIR FRY VEGETABLES SOUP
Recipe type: Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 32 oz skinless chicken breast, baked and chopped into chunk size bites
  • 40 oz fresh chicken broth from chicken or brand of 50% reduced sodium and no MSG added chicken broth, such as Swansons
  • 2 cups water
  • 16 oz stir fry vegetables
  • 1 medium chopped purple or white onion
  • 2 cups uncooked egg noodles
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup fresh sliced mushrooms or dehydrated mushrooms
  • ¾ tsp each garlic and onion powder
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp ground sea salt (optional)
  • ¼ tsp pepper
Instructions
  1. Place chicken breasts in a roasting pan, season with a dash or cumin, sea salt and pepper. Add enough water to just cover chicken breasts. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for an hour. Remove from oven and let the chicken cool off. Once it is cool, cut it up into bite size chunks for the soup. Save the broth from the chicken to use for the soup. Skim off any fat or refrigerate broth overnight and skim the hardened fat from the broth after the broth has congealed.
  2. Place all of the ingredients in the crockpot, stirring well. Place the crockpot on the high setting and crock for 4 hours. If desired, you may preheat the frozen stir fry vegetables in your microwave or steam them. This will reduce your cooking time and you may then place your crockpot on the medium or low setting and crock until soup is hot and all of the vegetables are tender. If desired, you may use fresh vegetables such as broccoli, peapods, water chestnuts and green beans in place of the frozen vegetables.
  3. Serve a bowl of this hot soup with a green salad, fresh fruit tray and crusty garlic bread.
Notes
if you omit the sea salt from the recipe, the sodium content is 270 mg per serving. If you use all fresh chicken broth from your chicken and omit the canned or packaged reduced sodium broth, the sodium content is approximately 65 mg per serving.add additional spices to flavor if desired to replace the salt.

GLUTEN FREE DIETS; You may wish to substitute 1½ cups uncooked quinoa or the same amount of Minute brown rice or cooked brown rice in place of egg
noodles in this recipe. Cook on the high setting of your crockpot for 3-4 hours or until grains are a tender consistency.

Information in this food blog is not meant to provide medical advice of any kind. For medical advice, contact your personal physician or your personal health care provider.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ⅛ recipe Calories: 133 Fat: 2 grams Saturated fat: 0.5 mg Trans fat: 0 grams Carbohydrates: 9 grams Sodium: 395 mg Protein: 16 grams Cholesterol: 44 mg