In this week’s news: Flavonoids found to be fab for women’s health; yoga may be your excuse to skip aerobics; and could you undo your holiday weight gain just by breathing?
Sipping a mug of hot chocolate after sledding and snowman building is one of the great joys of the season. But an envelope of powdered hot chocolate zapped in the microwave isn’t what we’re talking about. Sure the instant version is simple, but the list of ingredients generally includes hydrogenated oil, corn syrup, artificial flavors, preservatives, and mono- and diglycerides — none of which are necessary to make a great-tasting hot chocolate. Real cocoa powder is a good source of copper, potassium, vitamin B12 and iron. In addition, it’s rich in fiber, riboflavin, niacin and thiamine, which helps manage stress. So ditch the packets and try these from-scratch versions with festive peppermint, healing ginger and soothing cardamom.
Basic Classic Cocoa
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch processed)
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons hot water
1 cup reduced-fat milk
2 teaspoons sugar, agave or maple syrup
Microwave: In a microwave-safe mug, combine cocoa, salt and vanilla. Add 2 tablespoons hot water and combine until it forms a paste. Add the milk, leaving an inch from the rim. Microwave on high for 1 minute, being careful the milk does not boil over. Stir in sweetener and serve.
Stovetop: Heat milk, salt, vanilla and sugar in a small saucepan over medium to low temperature until scalding. Watch the milk so that it does not reach a boil. Combine cocoa and water in a mug and carefully add hot milk. Stir until blended.
Mint is a therapeutic herb believed to alleviate colic and digestive, gall bladder and stomach problems. The truth is, only peppermint, which is 92 percent menthol, has these medicinal properties. Spearmint does not contain menthol and offers no digestive benefits. Before adding cocoa, steep fresh peppermint leaves in the hot milk. Remove after 10 minutes and pour according to directions.
Cinnamon and Cardamom
The Aztecs used spices in their chocolatl, and today traditional Mexican hot chocolate has a spicy kick. Cinnamon soothes digestive problems and is considered an antispasmodic and antiseptic. Cardamom offers the same digestive benefits and acts to decrease gas. Sprinkle in cinnamon and cardamom to your liking.
Peel fresh ginger and add a few slices to hot milk, then steep for 10 minutes. Remove from milk before adding to cocoa mixture. Not only will you get a spicy kick, but the ginger’s qualities can reduce fever, gas and pain, and aid in digestion. It’s also believed ginger helps combat winter’s many coughs and colds.
Kiri Tannenbaum is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu Paris and holds an M.A. in food studies from New York University where she is currently an adjunct professor. When her schedule allows, she leads culinary walking tours in New York City and is currently at work on her first book.
If you’ve ever thought, “How can I get my kids to eat more vegetables?” you might want to read on. Chef Erin Smith of Main Kitchen, a beautiful new restaurant in the JW Marriott Houston Downtown, turns fresh carrots into fluffy pancakes and serves them in a short stack for breakfast with maple syrup. Other than the pancakes’ slight orange hue, you’d never know carrots were the main ingredient. Smith uses carrots from local farms like Black Hill Ranch and Sustainable Harvesters, and makes her pancakes gluten-free by using chickpea flour from a local gristmill.
Don’t let your belly shake like a bowl full of jelly this Christmas. Use our guide to indulge and burn it off. Whether you ice skate, sled or just start dancing around, be sure to busta move!
Crunching the Numbers
Everyone burns calories a little differently. The values below are averages based on a 155-pound person.
6 stuffed mushrooms = 400 calories = 45 minutes ice hockey
6 cheese puffs = 365 calories = 30 minutes cross-country skiing
6 ounces prime rib = 529 calories = 1 hour, 15 minutes shoveling snow
6 ounces baked ham = 250 calories = 30 minutes chopping wood
1 cup au gratin potatoes = 323 calories = 2 hours yoga
1 cup homemade mac and cheese = 450 calories = 40 minutes running at 6 mph
12 fluid ounces eggnog = 515 calories = 3 hours of housecleaning
12 fluid ounces peppermint latte = 475 calories = 1 hour snowshoeing
5 sugar cookies = 425 calories = 1 hour snowboarding
1 cinnamon bun (frosted) = 380 calories = 45 minutes sledding
1 slice fruitcake = 200 calories = 30 minutes ice skating
Don’t let your holiday spirit turn “bah, humbug.” Use these tips to help make the most of your holiday favorites.
- Don’t skip the fruit and veggies – save calories by incorporating both into all holiday meals.
- Allow yourself a few small “cheats” here and there, then stick to calorie-free beverages.
- Treat sweets like treats – enjoy sometimes, not always!
Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.
One of my favorite things about having houseguests is making a warm breakfast in the morning, preferably something that fills the kitchen with its delicious aroma and entices everyone out of bed — think spices, coconut, vanilla and pears. Ideally the breakfasts I make can be prepped the night before and baked fresh in the morning.
What’s on your agenda this week? Digging into Ree Drummond’s Christmas Queso? Sitting down to Ina Garten’s gorgeous rib roast or cutting into the Neelys’ crowd-pleasing glazed ham? Perhaps you’ve been the one tasked with making those cookies left out for Santa conveniently disappear? Sounds like a lot of fun — and fun that should be had.
Unlike the many cooks whose love affair with food was sparked by assisting their grandmother in the kitchen, Molly Watson’s culinary passion grew beside her grandmother at the table. Watson, a Minneapolis native, remembers meals at French restaurants and observing her grandmother effortlessly host dinner parties in their Northern Minnesota cabin. Her affinity for food was bolstered by a childhood spent foraging for mushrooms and blueberries. Though at first she pursued academia, earning a Ph.D. in Modern European History at Stanford University, eventually her passion won out and she embarked on a food writing career. Now a San Franciscan, Watson has become an expert in locally sourced food and recently penned her first cookbook, Greens + Grains: Recipes for Deliciously Healthful Meals.
Holiday cookies are everywhere this time of year, and no doubt you want to have a few — or an entire tin. The good news is that cookies don’t have to be all bad. Instead, you can add health-focused ingredients, like antioxidant powerhouses matcha green tea and cocoa powder, fiber-rich chestnut and almond flour, and inflammation tamers like ginger and cinnamon.
Fruits and vegetables do a body good. That’s not exactly news. But if you can eat them, why not, well, slather them all over your body? A fresh selection of face and body products made with nourishing ingredients like pumpkins, pomegranates, and mangosteens (!) makes it easy to wonder whether you’re standing in the green market or at the cosmetics counter. We’ve rounded up seven of our favorite products (at every price point) that are made of all-natural ingredients (almost) good enough to eat. Get them for all your BFFs (and a couple for yourself!).
In this week’s news: A new study indicates you should just say “no” to juice; when it comes to satisfaction, all sugars may not be equal; and “ancient grains” are new to your breakfast table.