Tuesday, February 24, 2009


It's National Pancake Day so get ready to make some hotcakes. IHOP is offering its customers a free serving of their famous short stacks and all donations will go to charity. If you can't make it out to IHOP follow one of these delicious recipes.

Here's a sweet recipe for peanut butter and jelly pancakes.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Heart Healthy Fruit: Cherries♥

As American Heart Month enters its final week lets make the most of it by learning about another heart healthy food: cherries (it also happens to be National Cherry Month). Recent studies have shown that a diet high in cherries reduces body fat, inflammation, weight and cholesterol which all happen to be contributing factors that lead to heart disease. Antioxidants in cherries have been proven to have great cardiovascular benefits. To learn more about the heart health benefits of cherries go to choosecherries.com.

Here is a fantastic recipe for scrumptious cherry scones. Sip on a hot cup of tea while you enjoy these tart treats.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Welcoming the Weekend

Good morning! I've got a fantastic idea to ring in the arrival of the most celebrated days of the week. It's a treat from Emilie over at the wonderful vegan blog The Conscious Kitchen. Follow her delicious recipe for this innovative cupcake made with chilies, Turkish coffee (my fave), cardamom, anise, dark chocolate and pistachios. Brew up a nice cup of coffee or pour yourself a soothing serving of tea alongside this yummy Mediterranean inspired treat and you're off to a great start for the weekend!

Photo Credit: Courtesy of The Conscious Kitchen

Friday, February 20, 2009

Heart Healthy Eats: Shrimp♥

I’m a die-hard seafood fanatic and will always defend my devotion to those tasty creatures under the sea by referring to the many health benefits that fish and other water foodstuffs yield. Being that it is American Heart Month, I think it’s perfect timing to discuss one of my favorite seafood eats—shrimp. These scrumptious crustaceans are beneficial to the cardiovascular system as a whole and help lower blood pressure.
Research studies have shown a diet sufficient in shrimp raises HDL (good cholesterol; see this post for more information on “good” and “bad” cholesterol) levels and decreases levels of triglycerides (a form in which fat is carried through the blood). Shrimp is also an excellent source of nutrients that are needed to ward off heart disease, like vitamin B12. Omega-3 fatty acids, which prevent blood clots as well as heart arrhythmias, high blood pressure, and inflammation, are found in shrimp. Read more about the benefits of shrimp here.

Here is another heart healthy recipe courtesy of Eating Well that incorporates two heart-friendly ingredients: shrimp and broccoli. Whip up this tasty recipe and throw on a side of brown rice and you’ve got yourself the perfect dinner meal. Eat to your health!

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Flickr

Tim Tam Cookies

You're probably wondering what that chocolaty treat peaking out of the center of the hot cocoa is. It's an Australian cookie called Tim Tam that is supposedly the best chocolate cookie according to ilovetimtamcookies.com (well, that was expected). These scrumptious biscuits come in chocolate creme and caramel flavors and are coated in chocolate. Tim Tams are the #1 selling cookie down under with a whopping 35 million packages sold each year. If you're skeptical, you should try them for yourself. The company making these decadent treats have teamed up with Pepperidge Farm to give Americans a teeny taste of Australian confections.
Target is exclusively carrying the Aussie favorite now through March.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Creamy Italian Hot Chocolate

I went hunting for a nourishing hot chocolate recipe and struck gold. I discovered a recipe for thick and rich Italian hot chocolate. Italian cuisine is known to be lavish and flavorful and this hot chocolate is no exception. This velvety concoction uses bittersweet dark chocolate for robust flavor and milk and cornstarch to achieve an almost pudding-like rich consistency. Follow this simple formula for outstanding authentic Italian hot chocolate, get cozy and savor the deep flavors.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Steel Wool

Hearty Breakfast: Frittatas

We’ve all been told not to skip out on breakfast and that it’s the most important meal of the day. It’s true, having a plentiful meal in the morning charges you up and gets you well and ready for the day ahead. But sometimes we get a little lazy and either grab something prepackaged and eat on the go or pickup a skimpy snack on the way to work or school when in fact the best breakfast is always homemade. What makes a homemade breakfast even more rewarding and beneficial is when it’s packed with ingredients that will help your body function at tip-top levels. Frittatas are a hearty Italian dish that are usually served for breakfast but since they're so fulfilling they can serve as a lunch break eat or a quick fix for a delicious dinner meal.

This scrumptious broccoli and potato frittata recipe from The Food Channel is perfect for a satisfying breakfast. It adds nutritious ingredients including antioxidant rich oregano, rosemary and thyme as well as broccoli which aids in heart health, fiber rich potatoes (as long as you keep the nutritious skin on), and vitamin enriched tomatoes. Once you make this easy recipe you’ll definitely never miss out on a hearty homemade breakfast again.

Note: The mouthwatering photo at the top of this post features a frittata made with smoked salmon, dill, capers and onions--a great alternative recipe would be to substitute some of the ingredients in the recipe above with these healthy ingredients or even add them to this recipe. Either way the result will be a delicious one.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Flickr

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Grilled Chocolate Sandwich

Let's continue this dark chocolate celebration. Here's a yummy recipe for a grilled dark chocolate sandwich from Eating Well. It's super simple and scrumptious. Make way for dessert!

Dark Chocolate: It Does A Body Good

In the spirit of this healthy heart of a month I think it’s only appropriate to bring up my favorite topic: chocolate! I don’t discriminate, I savor every kind of this sweet eat but we all know that there is some level of distinction between the different kinds of chocolate. Turns out, the higher the concentration of cacao, the more you will benefit from it health wise. It was milk chocolate all the way for me until a moment of desperation for something sweet gave way to my discovery of the flavorful taste of dark chocolate.
Dark chocolate is packed with antioxidants and essential nutrients like fiber and protein. This tasty sweet also lowers blood pressure but that doesn't give you the green light to eat all the chocolate you want. Dark chocolate, like all chocolate is high in fat so consume it in moderation. Where are the heart health benefits, you ask? Dark chocolate is infused with heart healthy flavoniods that are exclusively found in this kind of chocolate. Flavoniods keep cholesterol from gathering in blood vessels, reduce the risk of blood clots, and slow down the immune responses that lead to clogged arteries. A University of California San Francisco study showed that people who ate 1.6 ounces of dark chocolate loaded with epicatechin (a flavoniod only found in plants) a day gained health benefits. After undergoing high-tech evaluation of how well the blood vessels dilate and relax (an indictor of healthy blood vessel function) tests revealed the group who ate the dark chocolate showed high levels of epicatechin coursing through their arteries. That leads to increased blood flow and we all know what that means: good blood flow = good heart. Source

Prepare to crave chocolate because I've got a list of my favorite dark chocolate makers and the fabulous chocolates they create.

Vosges Haut-Chocolat
Vosges uses the purest ingredients and it doesn't hurt that it's an environmentally conscious chocolatier. These delightful morsels of dark chocolate truffles are fantastic. Vosges Haut-Chocolat

Green and Blacks
These chocolate makers produce wonderful and high-quality organic dark chocolate bars that you can find at your local grocery store. Green and Blacks

Soma Chocolates
Soma chocolates are made of premium cacao and taste splendid.
Soma Chocolatemaker

We all love Godiva chocolates and their dark collection is superb. Godiva

Scharffen Berger
These chocolatiers are famous for their premium chocolate creations and I highly recommend their sumptuous high cacao content dark bars. Scharffen Berger

Heart Healthy Dinner: Salmon♥

My absolute favorite food has got to be salmon. I enjoy it every which way from smoked and cured to grilled or broiled. There are so many ways to season and cook salmon that there is no way you could get bored of eating it. Being that it’s American Heart Month, it’s only appropriate to bring up salmon. Salmon is chock-full of heart healthy Omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)) which are essential to human health but not produced by the body. According to a study conducted by the American Heart Association, Omega-3 fatty acids decrease chances of a sudden heart attack and plaque on arteries as well as lowers blood pressure. The AHA recommends eating Omega-3 rich fish like salmon at least 2 times a week for optimum heart health. To learn more about the healthy benefits of salmon read this informative post or go to SalmonFacts.org.

Here’s a heart healthy dinner recipe for succulent salmon from Eating Well. Throw on a side of steamed veggies and roasted potatoes and you’ve got yourself a meal your heart will thank you for.

Photo Credit
: Courtesy of cwirthy.com

Heart Healthy Breakfast: Waffles♥

Hey, folks! February is the official American Heart Month. So what would be better than starting your day off with a heart healthy breakfast? I bet you didn't think waffles could be healthy for your heart but they can be with this tasty recipe from Eating Well. Using whole wheat flour helps boost your fiber intake and non-fat buttermilk will cut the fat content. Topping this warm treat with fresh berries will help keep your heart healthy and give you a hearty helping of antioxidants. Dust off that waffle iron and get the batter ready because you'll probably be making this breakfast favorite on a daily basis after you try this recipe.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Slurpalicious Smoothies

Ice-cold fruit blended drinks, or smoothies, are not only tasty but they're really nutritious. As I scoured the web in search of yummy smoothie recipes I couldn't make up my mind as to which one I wanted to try. They all looked and sounded delish. So I thought I would go ahead and share some of the recipes I found that I'll be trying the next few days. Follow these slurp-worthy formulas and drink away...Enjoy!

Passion Fruit, Pineapple and Mango Smoothie

This tropical treat is packed with exotic fruits that you can actually find at your local supermarket. This smoothie recipe is chock-full of antioxidant infused ingredients and a hint of spice to put a little kick in your step.
Courtesy of bbcgoodfood.com

Raspberry Smoothie

Raspberries, bananas and fresh orange juice team up to create this fruity blast. This recipe adds a little bit of vanilla yogurt to give it that creamy consistency. Yum!
Courtesy of myrecipes.com

Banana Berry Smoothie
This tasty recipe adds honey to the mix to make it a thick and truly sweet treat. The sticky honey also enhances the flavor of the bananas and strawberries.
Courtesy of myrecipes.com

Raspberry Cheesecake Smoothie
Alright, so it’s okay to have a decadent smoothie every once in a while. This recipe is more dessert than smoothie but who can say "no" to a liquefied cheesecake? Not me!
Courtesy of Old Orchard Juice

Vanilla Honey-Nut Smoothie
This hearty breakfast treat will have you savoring every mouthful. This recipe blends soy milk, frozen yogurt, tofu, honey and peanut butter to create a delightful smoothie that’s like no other.
Courtesy of myrecipes.com

Blueberry Smoothie

What’s a smoothie without blueberries? Infused with healthy antioxidants and a long list of health benefits, blueberries are one of the most health boosting foods you could consume. Break out the berries , follow this tasty recipe and drink to your health!
Courtesy of dietsinreview.com

Scrumptious Salad

As I continue my sugar overload detox, I'm looking for nutritious recipes that will be good to flush out that excess sugar, keep me fully satisfied and of course, taste delish. I absolutely love salads and what I love best about them is that you can always create your own custom recipe just by adding a few more ingredients or using a little more of this or a little less of that. I like to make a smorgasbord of sorts when it comes to salads. My favorite things to put into my healthy and hearty salads are the following: spinach, cilantro, bell peppers, eggplant, olives, mushrooms, tomatoes, cucumbers, broccoli, asparagus, crumbled feta cheese and a dash of olive oil and lemon juice. It's healthy, tasty and will keep you satisfied until it's time for that next meal. Go get that big bowl and start chopping up a delicious salad that you've customized and feel free to share your concoction with the rest of us.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Flickr

Monday, February 16, 2009


After a weekend filled with chocolate and Valentine’s Day treats, I felt the need to go on a sugar detox for a couple of days. This usually consists of tons of water, raw fruits, tons of water, raw veggies and did I mention tons of water? So to get full detoxification benefits I thought I’d throw in some herbs that aid in the flushing of toxins. On my quest to hunt down the most purifying herbs I came across a couple that I already use including hibiscus flowers and licorice. However there was one herb that caught my attention: marsh mallow root. The first thing that came to mind was that fluffy confection you sandwich between graham crackers and a chunk of chocolate but to my surprise there are a whole host of health benefits associated with the sticky herb. I did some research and found out some very interesting facts about the marsh mallow plant and the sugary creation that is named after it.

Marsh mallow is a plant indigenous to Europe and Asia and was used by the Ancient Greeks and Romans for medicinal purposes. It is abundant in marshes and other damp areas. It was used to treat wounds and alleviate coughs. 19th century doctors would create a formula with extracted juice from the marsh mallow plant, egg whites and sugar that when hardened was used as a medicinal candy to soothe a child’s sore throat. The beneficial elements of the concoction also included suppressing coughs and boosting immunity.

The earliest known marshmallow candy confection dates back to the Ancient Egyptians. It was a honey-based candy flavored and thickened with sap from the root of the marsh mallow plant. This sweet treat was reserved for gods and royalty. The first modern marshmallows were made in the 1800s in France where sap from the marsh mallow root was used as a binding agent for egg whites, corn syrup and water. The confection was both time consuming and expensive to make. But by the 1900s marshmallows were available for mass consumption and sold in tin cans as penny candy and marsh mallow root was replaced by gelatin which gave the candy a more stable form. With a few tweaks here and there, the marshmallow as we know it today was created.

What started out with a plant used as a healer morphed into a treat reserved for the upper echelon then trickled down to penny candy. The ultimate revolution of the marshmallow is celebrated as a loyal companion to hot chocolate, camp fires and Rice Krispies. Marshmallows have even tip-toed their way into elegant dishes, cupcake frosting and creamy marshmallow fluff is a favored mate to a peanut butter sandwich, Elvis-style.

Learn to make your own marshmallows with this quick and simple recipe from Food Network and for fabulous recipes and snack ideas using marshmallows check out Kraft Foods.

Photo Credit
: Courtesy of Flickr, Kraft Foods

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy day o' love! Help yourself to a lovely cupcake. Here is a quick and super simple recipe from my favorite Southern gal, Paula Deen from Food Network. Follow her easy recipe for fabulous red velvet cupcakes and treat yourself and your special someone to a decadent dessert.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Food Network

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Tropical Hot Chocolate

The season for hot chocolate is slowly winding down. As we prepare to say good-bye to heavy winter coats, freezing cold temperatures and high heating bills let’s whip up many a cup of comforting hot chocolate as the final weeks of winter approach. I found a fabulous recipe for dairy-free hot chocolate that substitutes coconut milk for regular milk. This innovative recipe was put together as a Valentine’s Day treat for the author’s husband who cannot have dairy--all he wanted for Valentine’s Day was hot chocolate. After countless recipes were put to the test and failed, this recipe came about through trial and error. The result was a creamy, decadent and rich cup of hot chocolate.

Photo Credit
: Courtesy of The New York Times

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

High-End Indulgence

We all love chocolate. The industry has expanded so that now we are able to choose from a wide variety of chocolates that are both high in quality and low in cost. But every once in a while it’s okay to splurge on high-end gourmet chocolates that’s likeness just can’t be found in a drug store. There are many high quality chocolatiers out there to choose from but my ultimate favorite is Neuhaus Createur Chocolatier. This Belgian chocolatier was my first introduction to fine gourmet chocolate. Made of the highest quality European chocolate, Nuehaus is famous for its signature praline filled chocolates now used widely by many chocolate manufacturers. Neuhaus produces quality milk, dark and white chocolates with divine fillings including ganache, nuts, caramel, ganduja and coffee. This Belgian chocolatier also makes an exquisite marzipan with coffee flavor and sugar crystals. So if you are thinking of splurging on good high-quality gourmet chocolates I highly recommend sampling Neuhaus fine chocolates.

Here are some delightful Valentine’s Day specials from Neuhaus.

This collection is filled with six of Neuhaus’s luscious specialties including scrumptious praline chocolate hearts, creamy piped almond and hazelnut gianduja and decadent manon white chocolates.

Heart-Shaped Box
The world of gourmet chocolate changed when Neuhaus created the praline. This charming box contains Neuhaus’s delicious signature praline milk and dark chocolate hearts confections.

Neuhaus Tin Heart and Caprice & Tentation
Double the pleasure! This lovely tin is filled with 10 different flavors of Neuhaus classic chocolates. The deluxe Caprice & Tentation box is complete with toffee filled chocolates with coffee ganache and toffee filled chocolates with vanilla fresh cream.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Neuhaus

Sweet Talkin'

My earliest memories of Valentine’s Day involve making mailboxes out of construction paper and stuffing Snoopy Valentine’s cards into classmates’ inboxes. After delivering our clever cartoon Valentines we’d all turn our mailboxes upside down and dump out our cards onto our desks and rummage through the mess to find the sweet treats. Lollypops, bite-sized candy bars, and mini chocolates were the Valentines we really looked forward to. But of course, there was always someone who brought in those bland, chalky, heart candies. Sure the phrases on them were cute but to a hard sugar craving kid they tasted like dust! They would follow me around wherever I went for the entire day. I would try to throw them all out in the trashcan but remnants of the powdery tarts would remain. I’d look in my pink and red decorated mailbox hoping, wishing I’d find a heart-shaped chocolate I forgot about or overlooked. But to my disappointment I’d find a pink, dusty heart staring back at me from the bottom of my bag reading “COAX ME”.
As much as I despised those grotty candies they were very much an important part of February 14th. Made by the New England Confectionery Company or NECCO, Sweethearts Conversation Hearts have been around every Valentine’s day since 1902. With classic phrases written on them like, “Kiss Me”, “Sweet Talk”, and “Be Mine” these tiny heart candies have become icons of this national day of love. Every so often Sweethearts phrases are updated to keep the tiny messages fresh. “Dig Me” was a phrase found on the Valentine’s treats in the 70s and cute but snicker-worthy phrases like “Ura Tiger” and “Purr Fect” made their way on the hearts a couple of years ago. In order to meet the demands of Valentine’s Day, 100,000 pounds of the talkative treats are produced a day. A whopping 8 billion hearts are sold during the six weeks leading to February 14th. Learn more about these chatty candies at NECCO.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Flickr