Sweet, Sweet Sunday

It’s Apple Pickin’ Time

Okay, now that we’ve established the fact that in order to take care of an awesome type 2 diabetic husband, “resident four year old,” and whoever else may be surrounding our tables or grabbing whatever food they can find to eat in surplus===such as my college daughter….

…we’ve also decided that one way that we can start converting all of our collected Southern Living and Paula recipes into healthier alternatives is by baking with applesauce…

And now that another goal of mine is to start slowly weeding out all processed foods from our diet, I’ve also decided to make and can my own applesauce…and apple butter…

Wait, did I say that I was gonna actually “can” something?!

My mom will be so shocked—kinda like the day that I told her that I had bought my very first sewing machine and she thought to herself that I’d never sew a straight stitch in my life…(now quilting is my favorite hobby…more on that later)…

But if I’m ever going to actually make applesauce or apple butter, there’s obviously one very important ingredient that I’m gonna need…

APPLES!!

Big Deal…So go get you some apples…

Wish it were that simple…wish apples came with two options—red or green…

But it isn’t?

If I send my daughter out to get apples, she’d soon be calling me to ask which ones…

If I order apples from Instacart, ,I’ll have to first surf and see which apple variety to order.

So my goal in these three upcoming posts are to show…

  1. How to select apples
  2. How to store apples
  3. Which variety to choose for what

…,and then share a few of my very favorite apple recipes…

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Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Beet Greens…The What Now?

(Dusclaimer…Okay, normally at this point I would be explaining HOW to use a particular food items on the Raw Foods Pyramid. This morning I have had a little bit of a time ctunch because the “resident four year old” has been begging me to go back into his room and sleep with him for the last hour…Sad but true, the “resident four year old” still sleeps with his grandmother…hopefully he won’t do that by the time he gets to college)…

 

 

So how do you know which beets, and obviously the greens that are attached to these beets, to buy?

1. The Beet Root…Things to look for…

  • Defects…Make sure that your beet roots are not cracked, soft, bruised, shriveled, or look very dry.
  • Organic…Buying product that is certified organically grown will decrease your likelihood of being exposued to contaminants such as pesticides and heavy metals. Look for produce that shows the USDA organic logo.
  • Scales…Beets with round, scaly areas around the top surface will be tough, fibrous, and strongly flavored.
  • Smaller beet roots…Choose smaller beet roots that are not more than 2-1/2″ in diameter. Anything larger than that will probably be tough and have a woody core.
  • Texture…The actual beets should appear crisp, not wilted or slimy.

2, The Beet Greens…The beet greens should appear fresh, tender, and have a lively green color.

 

 

What do you do with the beets/beet greens when you do get them home?

  • Cut  most of the green parts from the actual beets.
  • Place the unwashed greens in a plastic bag, searate from the actual beets.
  • Squeeze as much of the air out of the bag as possible before closing and placing in the refrigerator.
  • Your beet greens should stay fresh for about four days.

 

 

Why do certain foods need to be refrigerated?

Refrigerating produce will maintain the nutritional value of nutrients that are highly susceptible to heat—such as Vitamin C, vitamin B6, and carotenoids—from being depleted by the following four factors…

  1. Exposure to air
  2. Exposure to heat
  3. Exposure to light
  4. Length of time in storage

 

 

So in light of the fact that I have 1:45 remaining on my timer for the time that I devote to blogging each morning, lhere are a few ways to think about using that I hope to cover in my next post…

 

  1. Salad
  2. Saute
  3. Soups and Stews
  4. Lasagna and Pasta Dishes
Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Date Sugar—What?! Why?! How?!

The What?!

  • Another natural sugar substitute that’s popular among raw food enthusiasts.
  • Date sugar is simply made by dehydrating and finely grinding whole dates into a granular powder and requires no processing whatsoever.
  • Date sugar has a lightly sweet, caramel-like flavor and the consistency of brown sugar.

 

The Why?!

  • Even though dates contain tons of fructose by ratio to their weight…about six times more sugar and calories than most other fruits….for example, five small apples have the same amount of sugar as four dates….dates also contain many important nutrients—especially fiber and potassium.
  • As far as sugar substitutes, date sugar has the highest nutritional value.
  • Fiber…Fiber is important for slowing down the absorption of sugar to your liver and regulating insulin. Fiber also fills you up faster.
  • Potassium…Potassium is important for flushing out toxins and balancing electrolytes.

The How?!

  • Date sugar is not a good substitute for sweetening beverages because it remains grainy and does not dissolve well just placed in hot liquids, such as coffee or tea.
  • Even though date sugar doesn’t dissolve in hot liquids or baked goods, date sugar can still be a great one-to-one replacement for granulated or brown sugar in baking recipes.
  • Dates can be used as a binder for cookies and bars, turned into caramel, and also used as a sweetener for smoothies and salad dressings as long as the ingredients are blended well.
  • Date Syrup…You can also turn raw dates into a date syrup by boiling the dates and reducing the liquid until it’s the consistency of honey. This is actually a much better option than using date sugar when baking.
  • When using date syrup to replace granulated sugar in a baking recipe, be sure to use less date syrup than the amount of granulated sugar that the recipe calls for—about 2/3 cup date syrup for every one cup of sugar called for in the original recipe…as well as making sure than you reduce the amount of liquids called for in the original recipe.
  • Because dates have a low glycemic index, dates are actually a great sugar substitute for diabetics and for prediabetics who hope to keep their blood sugar in check….so, yes, adding this to my upcoming grocery list.
Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Blackstrap Molasses—The How?!

  1. So these last few posts have been about blackstrap molasses—what blackstrap molasses are and why we need to consider adding blackstrap molasses to our family grocery lists.

    But I thought it would be more fun to start talking about a few ways to use these blackstrap molasses once we do purchase them.

    One way to use blackstrap molasses is by making baked beans.

    Being from the Deep South, I grew up eating lots and lots of baked beans, with lots and lots of bacon and onion added to the beans…still one of my favorite foods and a welcome addition to any picnic or barbecue.

2C dried navy or white beans…(could also use canned equivalent)

1/2 lb sliced bacon

1 onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, pressed

1/4 cup Golden Barrel Light Brown Sugar

1/4 cup Golden Barrel Blackstap Molasses

1/2 cup ketchup

2 TBSP apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar)

4 cans (15-16 oz each) pork and beans, undrained

2 cans (15.5 oz each) dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 tsp. salt
1 ½ tsp. dried mustard
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1/2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

 

Preparing Dried Beans…Soak 2 cups of dried navy or white beans in water overnight.The next day, drain the beans, put them in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 30 minutes (or until the skins break when you blow on them). Drain the beans and put them in a large ovenproof pot or bean crock.

Preheat oven to 350.

Cook bacon in skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon to paper towels. Reserve 2 tablespoons drippings in skillet. Cut cooked bacon into bite-sized pieces; set aside.
Sautee onion in drippings over medium heat 3-4 minutes or until crisp-tender, stirring occasionally.
Press garlic into skillet, cook and stir 1 minute.

Add salt, dry mustard, pepper, brown sugar, molasses, vinegar, bacon, ketchup, and

beans to skillet.

 

Cook and stir until sugar is dissolved and mixture is bubbly.

Add the beans, cooked onions, bacon, and 2C water.

Bring mixture to a boil; remove skillet from heat.

Add 2 cups water to cover beans and stir to combine.