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Lets slow down and enjoy the holidays

Did you find enough time to enjoy Thanksgiving? One wouldn't want to slow down and actually talk to someone during a meal, let alone consider swallowing and digesting our Thanksgiving meal before heading out to SHOP Thursday night! Let's be real, what is the big hurry? You would think that Americans couldn't wait to stand in line to support the Chinese economy. Heaven forbid that Americans would have to, well, relax with family and friends for an entire day.

On the other hand, Thanksgiving had been dominated by football for far too long, but now the other half of America can enjoy their favorite sport—shopping. Before long, I am sure that Congress will allow you to "Itemize" shopping as a deductible expense from your income taxes. Why you ask? Because soon the lofty legislators from the hallowed halls of Congress will realize that to actually go out and physically shop requires exercise and when one shops they buy, buy, buy, and that is good for the economy. And voila, the Anti-Obesity Shopping Stimulus Act will be overwhelmingly passed and enacted by Congress.
But there will be detractors, like Amazon and other fine online retailers, clamoring for their fair share of stimulus dollars. Feeling left out, they will appeal to Congress to pass the Overeaters Stimulus Bill that would encourage Americans to shop from their pajamas and conserve fossil fuels, since they are no longer able to button their skinny jeans and take advantage of the Anti-Obesity Shopping Stimulus Act.
Yes, Americans everywhere can rest assured that Congress will do all it can to pass very little meaningful legislation. So it will be up to us fellow Americans to buy only those gifts that will add value, not to overspend, and not to go into credit card debt this Christmas. And just maybe our congressional legislators will take a nod from main street and not Wall Street, when they see us average Americans making good financial choices—the kind of choices that help our family live within our financial means.
My goals for the Christmas season are simple: enjoy family, friends, and good food. My goal for New Years is that my scale will say the same as it did today (give or take a pound).
Cheers for a wonderful Christmas season! 
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Healthy Holiday Eating

Are you rushing around yet? It's the season for holiday plans, schedules, and entertaining friends and family. It's also a time of dietary excess, increased stress, and let's not forget colds and flu. Statistics show that December is the most stressful month of the year. That, and the cold weather alone, can wreak havoc on a person. Rest assured! There are things you can do to prepare yourself for the holidays and prevent certain discomforts that can accompany this season.

Growing up in my family, it was considered impolite not to sample food being offered, especially if Grandma made it. We would eat and eat, sometimes having three to four holiday meals in one day! Some of you can no doubt identify with this situation. To help you avoid overeating during the holidays, here are some tips. 
First, avoid starving yourself early in the day to "save room" for the holiday meal. The easiest way to overeat is to create maximum hunger this way. Small frequent meals are always better. 
Second, remember to drink plenty of water. This will prevent you from serving and eating a huge portion which you will "have to finish," since you "don't want it to go to waste." 
Third, decide on a maximum and reasonable portion size for the meal and stick to it. After eating, drink some hot herbal tea to promote relaxation.
With too much good food comes heartburn. To decrease your chance of getting the discomfort and pain of heartburn, start the meal with apple cider vinegar. This helps increase digestive enzymes and break down foods faster. Another way to avoid stomach upset is to use deglycyrrhized licorice (DGL). Licorice is an herb that stimulates the cells lining your digestive tract to produce mucus. The mucus, in turn, protects the stomach and esophagus from digestive acid. DGL can help tremendously with heartburn or food-related excess stomach acid or if you have esophageal reflux (backflow of stomach acid). A typical prescription is to chew and swallow two 400mg tablets 10 minutes before each meal to help keep your digestive tract in order. Talk to your ND to find out what's best for you. 
by Rebecca Dirks, N.D.
Associate Physician, NW Center for Optimal Health in Marysville
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Butternut Squash, Lentil and Quinoa Salad

1/2 butternut squash, peeled & deseeded
3-4 garlic cloves, skin on
1/2 fresh chili, sliced
1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup boiling water
400 grams/14 ounces cooked lentils
1 teaspoon cumin powder
Olive oil
Juice from 1/2 lemon
Salt to taste
Fresh coriander/cilantro leaves for garnish
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C / 356 degrees F. Peel and deseed 1/2 a butternut squash. Dice into 2.5cm (1-inch) cubes and place them on parchment-paper-lined baking tray as well as garlic cloves and chili. Drizzle over some olive oil, cumin powder and salt and toss all the ingredients until well combined. Then bake them in the preheated oven for 40 minutes or until the squash feels tender and fluffy when pricked with a fork. 
While the squash is roasting in the oven, pour 1/2 cup of quinoa and 1 cup of hot boiling water in a medium-sized pot. Start cooking over medium-high flame until it starts to boil. Then let it simmer by reducing to low-medium flame and cover with a lid. In the meantime, rinse and drain the lentils. Set aside. For the quinoa, cook until the water is ALMOST absorbed. When there’s just a little water left at the bottom of the pot (I’ll say about 2 tablespoons worth of water left), turn off the flame and leave the lid on. This will allow the quinoa to completely absorb the water without sticking to the pot. Fork through the quinoa so that it’s light and fluffy. Set aside.
Add lentils to the quinoa and toss gently until well combined. Season lightly with salt. Add roasted butternut squash, garlic (skin-off and thinly chopped) and chili to the lentil-quinoa mixture. Drizzle some olive oil and lemon juice over the salad and toss to mix. Just before serving, garnish with some coriander/cilantro leaves. You can serve this salad warm or cold.
Photo and Recipe Courtesy of Fuss Free Cooking


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KFF Thanksgiving Guide

Add color, flavor, and texture to the holiday feast with these inventive new takes on our favorite fall veggies using the produce from your Box of Good! 


Your Holiday Box includes:

Granny Smith Apples, 2 lbs.* 
Cranberries, 8 oz.* 
Satsumas, 2 lbs. 
Garnet Yams, 2 lbs.
Green Beans, 1 lb.
Carrots, 2 lbs
Yellow Potatoes, 3 lbs.*
Celery, 1 bunch 
Yellow Onions, 1 lb.*
Acorn Squash, 1 ea.*
Breadcubes for Stuffing, 1 lb.* 


Roasted Squash with Mint and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
{Simple and Amazing} Cranberry Sauce Recipe 
Thyme Roasted Apples and Onions
Spiced Glazed Carrots with Sherry and Citrus
Slow Roasted Green Beans with Sage
Hasselback Yams
Creamy Mashed Yukon Gold Potatoes
Old Fashioned Bread Stuffing
*Most recipes serve 8-10, please adjust accordingly.



Roasted Squash with Mint and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

2 medium acorn squash or small sugar pumpkins (about 3 lb. total)
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar
¼ cup fresh mint leaves, torn
Preheat oven to 425°. Cut squash into 1½”-thick wedges, leaving skin on. Scrape off seeds and strings with a large spoon and discard. Coat wedges with 3 Tbsp. oil and season with salt and pepper. Lay wedges cut side down on a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast, carefully turning halfway through, until golden brown on both sides, about 30 minutes.
Heat remaining 1 Tbsp. oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add pumpkin seeds to cook, swirling pan often, until seeds are puffed and brown but still have a bit of green, 4–5 minutes. Transfer seeds to paper towels to drain. Sprinkle with salt. DO AHEAD Squash and toasted pumpkin seeds can be made 4 hours ahead. Let stand separately at room temperature. Rewarm squash before serving.
Transfer squash to a large platter and drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle squash with torn mint leaves and toasted pumpkin seeds.
Recipe and image





{Simple and Amazing} Cranberry Sauce Recipe

12 oz bag fresh cranberries
3/4 cup orange or satsuma juice
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
Place all the ingredients in a sauce pan and cook on medium-high for 15-20 minutes or until most of the liquid has reduced – stirring occasionally. You’ll hear the cranberries popping – don’t worry, that’s what you want them to do. Remove from heat and serve. Cranberry sauce can be made days ahead and brought to room temperature or slightly heated before serving.



Thyme Roasted Apples and Onions


4 cups apple cider
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt plus additional for sprinkling
6 7- to 8-ounce onions, halved through root end, each half cut into 6 wedges
6 teaspoons coarsely chopped fresh thyme, divided
6 apples (about 2 3/4 pounds total), peeled, halved, cored, each half cut into 4 wedges
Boil cider in large saucepan until reduced to 2/3 cup, about 28 minutes. Whisk in butter. Season glaze with 1 teaspoon coarse salt. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 week ahead. Cover; chill. Rewarm; whisk before using.
Position 1 rack in top third and 1 rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 425°F. Butter 2 large rimmed baking sheets. Toss onions in large bowl with 2 teaspoons thyme and 3 tablespoons glaze. Arrange in single layer on 1 sheet. Toss apples in same bowl with 2 teaspoons thyme and 3 tablespoons glaze. Arrange in single layer on second sheet. Sprinkle onions and apples with coarse salt and pepper.
Roast onions on upper oven rack 10 minutes. Place apples on bottom rack. Roast onions and apples 20 minutes. Remove both sheets from oven. Drizzle remaining glaze evenly over onions and apples. Reverse position of sheets. Roast 20 minutes longer.
Increase oven temperature to 475°F. Roast onions and apples until tender and slightly caramelized, watching closely to prevent burning, about 10 minutes longer. Transfer onions and apples to large bowl. Season with coarse salt and pepper. Sprinkle with remaining 2 teaspoons thyme.
Recipe and image


Spiced Glazed Carrots with Citrus

2 bunches of thin carrots (2 lb.), cut into 1" pieces (about 4 cups)
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more for seasoning
12 whole black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
2 pinches ground cloves
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon leaves
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated satsuma zest or orange zest
Bring carrots, butter, 1/2 tsp. salt, peppercorns, bay leaf, and 1/2 cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 7–8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer carrots to a medium bowl.
Add orange juice and ground cloves to skillet and cook until glaze forms, 7–8 minutes. Stir in carrots. Season carrots to taste with salt. DO AHEAD Can be made 4 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Rewarm over medium heat before continuing, adding water by teaspoonfuls if dry.
Transfer to a serving plate. Garnish with tarragon and celementine zest.
Image and recipe adapted from

Slow Roasted Green Beans with Sage

2 1/2 pounds tender green beans, trimmed
3 bunches scallions, trimmed with 1-inch green tops still attached, halved lengthwise
6 large garlic cloves, each cut lengthwise into 4 slices
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh sage leaves
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 375°. Combine first 8 ingredients in a large bowl and season with pepper. Toss to evenly incorporate. Transfer beans to a large rimmed baking sheet.
Roast beans, stirring every 10 minutes, until wilted, shrunken, and browned at edges, about 1 hour. (You may need to stir more often toward end for even browning.)
Recipe and image


Hasselback Yams

2 yams
2 tablespoons butter (chopped in little pieces)
2 tablespoons applesauce
2 tablespoons maple syrup 
1/4 cup chopped pecans 


1/4 cup dried cranberries (optional)
1/4 cup peeled and finely diced apple
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pinch salt
Olive oil
Preheat oven to 400. Wash and peel the sweet potatoes 3/4 of the way, leaving some peel on the bottom of the potato. Lay wooden chop sticks on each side of the potato and slice as thinly as you can. Rub them with a little olive oil. Oil a baking dish or line it with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, mix together the rest of the ingredients. Carefully try to push some of the stuffing mixture between the slices. Pile the remaining stuffing on top of each potato. Drizzle any remaining liquid over the potatoes. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 – 15 minutes, being careful not to burn the topping. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Recipe and image


Creamy Mashed Potatoes

4 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup cottage cheese, pureed
2 tablespoons chives, thinly sliced
salt and pepper to taste
optional garnish:
melted butter
1. Place potatoes in a large pot and fill with water. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.
2. Boil potatoes until fork tender, about 25 minutes.
3. While potatoes boil, place cream, butter and garlic in a small saucepan and simmer. Once mixture comes to a simmer, remove from heat.
4. Drain potatoes in a colander and return back to the pot. Lightly mash the potatoes and season with salt and pepper.
5. Pour cream mixture over the potatoes, a little at a time and mash the potatoes until all the cream mixture has been used and potatoes are smooth.
6. Stir in pureed cottage cheese and sliced chives and season with salt and pepper.
7. Top with remaining chives and melted butter, if desired. Serve warm.

Recipe and image

Old Fashioned Bread Stuffing

1/2 cup butter
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
1 loaf French bread or baguette, chopped into small pieces
1 tbsp. thyme
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 large eggs, beaten
1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth 
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook celery in butter until almost tender. Add onions, and cook until lightly browned and tender. Set aside. Place the bread into a large bowl and add spices. Add butter mixture and egg, and toss lightly to distribute. Moisten the mixture to your desired consistency with chicken broth. Transfer to a 13 x 9 inch baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
TIP: For Cranberry Walnut Stuffing, add 1 cup dried cranberries and 1 cup chopped walnuts to the bread mixture. 
Recipe and image
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Planning Thanksgiving side dishes.


Cookbooks surround me with pages folded and creased to mark recipes I’m eager to try. While I plan holiday dishes, in the background PBS plays Julia Child confidently laying a pliable dough into a round French pan. It’s no surprise that Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays—it’s a day devoted to cooking, eating, family and thinking about what makes you thankful. I can think of little better.
I’ve had my holiday menu planned for weeks. The turkey is stuffed to maximum capacity with an herby and sausage-laden stuffing. Potatoes, heavy in cream and butter, surrender to a cap of caramelized onion gravy. There are buttery rolls, a tart cranberry relish, sweet potatoes that lean more towards sweet than savory and a bright, raw carrot salad that mightily attempts to break up the holiday heft with lemon and red onion. 
Earlier this summer, I praised the wonders of raw vegetables, but these bright, clean and nutritious salads are even more welcomed in the winter when heavy braises, creamy gratins and rich cuts of meat are commonplace. Salads, such as this carrot and red onion one, are a necessary reprieve from the typical holiday fare. 
Of all the raw vegetable salads, carrots seem the least non-threatening. My kids crunch on them happily. The other day my oldest son complained that his eye was hurting. He asked, “May I have a carrot?” Not only does he like them, he also knows carrots are good for his eyes. I didn’t have the heart to tell him they don’t quite work that quickly, but hey, he didn’t complain about the pain after that, so what do I know?
While fresh salads may not make the popular Thanksgiving menu items, I deem them necessary. Of course I love the potatoes, stuffing and marshmallow topped sweet potatoes, but it’s crisp, fresh dishes like these that help balance the meal and break up the richness. They add vibrant color to the table and plate, mix up quickly and are a welcomed fresh bite. 
We have much for which to be thankful.
by Ashley Rodriguez
Serves 4
4 carrots, grated or peeled to get long ribbons (about 4 cups)
½ red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil 
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped, fresh parsley
Salt & pepper
Combine everything and mix well. 
Can be made a couple hours in advance then refrigerated.
Serves 6-8 as a side dish Adapted from
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Zucchini, Tomato and Rice Gratin

1 cup cooked rice
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds zucchini (about 3 medium), sliced 1/4-inch thick
1/2 pound tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick
Table salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, divided
Preheat oven to 450°F. Coat two baking sheets each with a tablespoon of a of olive oil. Spread zucchini and tomato slices on the baking sheets in as close to a single layer as you can. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Roast tomatoes for 10 minutes and zucchini for 20. Flip zucchini halfway through; it’s not worth the messy effort for the tomatoes. Leave oven on.
Heat large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add 2 tablespoons olive oil, heat oil, then add onions, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon salt to pan. Cover and reduce heat to low, cooking onion until limp and tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Combine onion mixture, rice, eggs, thyme, half of your grated cheese and a half-tablespoon of olive oil in a bowl. Add a good amount of freshly ground black pepper. Use the remaining half-tablespoon of olive oil to coat a shallow 2-quart baking dish. Spread half of rice mixture in bottom of dish. Arrange half of roasted zucchini on top. Spread remaining rice mixture over it. Arrange remaining zucchini on top, then tomato slices. Sprinkle with remaining grated cheese and bake until set and golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Recipe adapted from
Original image Smitten Kitchen
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The Nutritional Power of Pumpkins

by Maylin Rodriguez-Paez, RN
Pumpkins are not just Halloween decorations — they’re also total nutritional powerhouses. 
In fact, both the flesh and the seeds of pumpkins contain a number of beneficial nutrients that can help prevent disease and promote health. 
So before you trash the remains of that freshly carved pumpkin you’ve put on your porch for Halloween, consider giving both the flesh and the seeds a try.
Don’t be surprised if your taste buds and body thank you for tricking them into a new treat-of-choice.

Pumpkins are a Figure-Friendly Food

If you’re watching your weight, you should definitely work pumpkin in your diet. And no, we’re not just talking about pumpkin pie.
The orange “meat” is very low in calories (30 calories per cup) and carbs, with about 8 grams per serving1. It’s also rich in fiber, which helps to fill you up.
Pumpkin works great as a side dish with your favorite meals and has fewer calories than a serving of rice or potatoes.

Pumpkins are Rich in Antioxidants

The nutrient content of pumpkins, specifically in terms of antioxidants, is another great reason to start eating them. Here are two key antioxidants that make pumpkins such an excellent choice.

1. Carotenoids

The pumpkin’s beautiful orange color is due to beta-carotene, a disease-preventing antioxidant. You should make it a point to get enough daily.
Diets rich in beta-carotene may protect against cancer2 and heart disease3. Also, it plays an important role in the skin, where it helps to guard against sun damage.4
Other carotenoids found in pumpkin flesh include zeaxanthin and lutein,1 which enhance vision.5 

2. Gamma-Tocopherol

Pumpkin seeds are a great source of gamma-tocopherol,6 a potent form of vitamin E.
Gamma-tocopherol plays different roles in the human body. Scientists have discovered that it protects the brain from Alzheimer’s disease.7 In addition it’s been shown to prevent LDL oxidation, a risk factor for heart disease.8

Pumpkins Contain Lignans — Powerful Anti-Cancer Compounds 

Pumpkin seeds contain lignans,9 which are estrogen-like compounds that are good for your body. Lignans are “weak estrogens” that favorably bind to estrogen receptors to help protect against cancerous growths.
Studies indicate that a diet rich in lignans may prevent different types of cancers, including cancers of the prostate10 and colon.11 
One study found that eating pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and soybeans (all rich in lignans) was associated with a lower risk of breast cancer.12

Pumpkins Protect Prostate Tissue

Pumpkin seed extract blocks the activity of 5-alpha reductase,13 an enzyme that converts testosterone into DHT (dihydrotestosterone), a very potent form of testosterone.
DHT causes prostate tissue to grow and is implicated in conditions like prostate cancer, benign prostatic hyperplasia (non-cancerous prostate growth), and even male pattern baldness. Levels tend to be elevated in aging men.
One study showed that men with benign prostatic hyperplasia had improvements in urinary flow and frequency after taking pumpkin seed extract.14 
Recipe: Curried Pumpkin Soup
This fall make it a point to try pumpkin in a few different ways. For example, here's a recipe for a delicious pumpkin soup that will give your taste buds a serious treat, courtesy of the website Epicurious.
2 medium onions, finely chopped (2 cups) 
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large garlic cloves, minced 
1 1/2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger 
2 teaspoons ground cumin 
1 teaspoon ground coriander 
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom 
1 1/2 teaspoons salt 
3/4 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes 
2 (15-oz) cans solid-pack pumpkin (3 1/2 cups) or fresh pumpkin puree
4 cups water 
1 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (12 fl oz) 
1 (14-oz) can unsweetened coconut milk (not low-fat) 
1/4 cup olive oil 
2 teaspoons brown mustard seeds 
8 fresh curry leaves 
Cook onions in butter in a wide, 6-quart, heavy pot over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add cumin, coriander, and cardamom and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in salt, red pepper flakes, pumpkin, water, broth, and coconut milk and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Purée soup in batches in a blender until smooth, transferring to a large bowl, and return soup to pot. Keep soup warm over low heat.
Heat oil in a small, heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot. Then cook mustard seeds until they begin to pop, about 15 seconds. Add curry leaves and cook 5 seconds. Then pour mixture into pumpkin soup. Stir until combined well and season soup with salt.
Happy Halloween, everyone – enjoy!
2. Molecules. 2012 Mar 14;17(3):3202-42.
3. Ann Epidemiol. 1995 Jul;5(4):255-60.
4. Dermatology. 2010;221(2):160-71. 
5. Eur J Ophthalmol. 2012 Mar-Apr;22(2):216-25.
6. Z Lebensm Unters Forsch. 1996 Apr;202(4):275-8.
7. Nitric Oxide. 2002 Mar;6(2):221-7.
8. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol Ther. 1999 Oct;4(4):219-226.
9. J Agric Food Chem. 2003 Feb 26;51(5):1181-8.
10. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2006 Dec;31(24):2021-5, 2093.
11. Carcinogenesis. 1996 Jun;17(6):1343-8.
12. Nutr Cancer. 2012;64(5):652-65. 
13. Nutr Res Pract. 2009 Winter; 3(4): 323–327.
14. Br J Urol. 1990 Dec;66(6):639-41.