The Gingerbread Man Gets Healthy (and no he is not lifting weights!)

I am sure you are all in the thick of it, you know, the holiday rush. Shopping, baking, cleaning for guests, decorating and traveling. When Texas Oncology asked me to share their Healthy Granola recipe with my readers I jumped at the chance. Unfortunately there are very sick adults and children out there all year long, not just with cancer but heart problems and a host of other illnesses. The holidays are especially difficult for their families and the ones affected.

A good friend of ours has a toddler who has Leukemia and has been in the hospital for almost two months. You may feel helpless if you have a family member or friend who is sick, so what can you do? A phone call, an offer of making food or school lunches for their other children or just a card. You can make this recipe and share it with their family or the great doctors and nurses who work so hard.

Every year Texas Oncology shares healthy recipes with its families and this year they asked me to share their Gingerbread Granola recipe with a larger audience.

I took the statement below off their site, now I know some cancer, especially in children does not fall in to the category of nutrition. As adults we can think about what we are feeding our kids and ourselves, we need to stay healthy for our kids, it’s our responsibility.

Just like millions already know, Nearly a third of cancer deaths in 2010 could be prevented because they are related to poor nutrition, obesity, and physical inactivity, according to the American Cancer Society. The organization also states: “There is strong scientific evidence that healthy dietary patterns, in combination with regular physical activity, are needed to maintain a healthy body weight and to reduce cancer risk.” “Nutrition plays a major role in promoting good health,” said Dr. Arvind Bhandari, medical oncologist at Texas Oncology–Sugar Land. “A healthy lifestyle and proper dietary habits can lower the risk of disease and contribute to overall well-being.”

Granola is great but some store bought granola can be fatty and over sugared, so make some at home, it easy!

Gingerbread Granola


2 ½ cups rolled oats

¾ cup raw slivered almonds

¼ cup raw sunflower seeds

2 teaspoons flax seeds

¾ teaspoon ground ginger powder

¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/8 teaspoon salt

Pinch nutmeg

1/3 cup agave nectar

1 tablespoon molasses

1/3 cup brown sugar

¼ cup chopped dried apricots

¼ cup golden raisins


Preheat oven to 300˚F. In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, almonds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, and spices. In a separate bowl, whisk together the agave nectar, brown sugar, and molasses. Pour over dry mixture and stir until incorporated thoroughly. Evenly spread the granola mixture onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until dry, stirring occasionally, for about 25 to 30 minutes. Cool slightly before adding apricots and raisins. Once cooled completely, store in an airtight jar or sealed bag.

I like to put it in a large mason jar with a tag, the jar can be reused and no plastic bags are wasted.

Here is a link to a very cute recipe card with the recipe to attach to the jar!

Here are some ideas on how to use your creation…

Combine it with milk, almond or soy milk for a healthy start to the morning.

Sprinkle it over yogurt with fresh fruit.

Put it on top of ice cream for a sweet treat with a drizzle of honey.

Serve it as a nutritious afternoon snack.

For seasonal color, add dried cherries, which are rich in Vitamin C.

Slice apple, add almond butter, dip apples in granola for a crunchy after school snack.

Sweeten it up with bits of dark chocolate for antioxidant power.

Add chopped pecans or walnuts for a nutty dose of protein.

Mix in sesame seeds for a calcium boost.

Put it inside apples and bake for a healthy dessert

Here are some other very simple ideas from Texas Oncology for a healthier holiday

When planning holiday menus, select foods that represent a rainbow of colors, like dark, leafy greens and seasonal fruits and vegetables, including berries.

Prepare holiday meals rich in fresh and seasonal fruits, vegetables, and legumes, such as cranberries, pumpkins, clementines, beets, sweet potatoes, and lentils.

Limit sugary drinks, like eggnog, and serve sparkling cider for toasting.

Vegetables in the cabbage family are rich in fiber and protective vitamins, so load up on Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and turnip greens.

Instead of buying a frozen turkey, try a natural, fresh one free of artificial ingredients.

Skip the mashed potatoes in favor of cauliflower, celery root, or turnip purees.

Review favorite holiday recipes to substitute butter or lard with healthy oils such as olive, canola, and other vegetable oils.

Add fiber, “good fats,” and a host of phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals with chopped nuts such as pecans, walnuts, almonds, or hazelnuts.

Serve whole grain bread with holiday meals, which contains fiber, folic acid, and iron, or use whole wheat bread in stuffing.

For the table, dress up water for the holidays with cranberry ice cubes

For more from Texas Oncology sign up for their newsletter here.

Stumble Upon Toolbar


Going Against the Grain - Healthier Gingerbread House * Recycled*

Here we are again...It is winter and the holiday season is in full swing. I bet you are all as busy as I am so I know you will understand when I tell you that I am recycling an old post I wrote for Edible Magazine. Things around here are great and I have a few projects up my sleeve. I am not quite ready to share all the details with you. So I figured it is better to re-share than post nothing, enjoy and if this is old news to you then chime in with some new ideas for the perfect gingerbread house!! I promise that after the break I will get back to posting more healthy recipes for your little ones. Until then enjoy your time and don't stress out too much, remember to have fun and take a breath this holiday season!

With the holidays coming, kids have two things on the brain—presents and sweets! When I think of the holidays I always think of a gingerbread house. We made one every year when I was growing up, and we always looked forward to it. It was an elaborate plan of blueprints and time. This year I am thinking of making a much healthier and simpler version—a rustic gingerbread cabin, if you will.

Are the kids sighing in the background? (Just wait kids, this can be fun.) I understand that the thought of a gingerbread house conjures up visions of candy canes, sugary gumdrops and gobs of frosting, but why not build one with some healthier, but still tasty, ingredients?

Remember, a gingerbread house can be any kind of house—a tiki hut, a ski lodge, a trailer, a mouse house or a train. When you make a traditional gingerbread house you end up with bags of sweets left over and, let’s face it, no kid wants to get old, stale candy for Halloween next year and tossing it out is so wasteful. Go against the grain and forgo the candy this year! Challenge the kids to use items you already have in your cupboards and try not to go out and buy a ton of new ingredients. The great thing about this project is that the “decorations”—foods such as nuts, cereals, and crackers— are healthier, easy to use, and you could make a fun cereal trail mix with your leftovers. This gingerbread house will be different, and still just as fun to look at and eat.

An easy way to make a small gingerbread house is to use graham crackers. If you are more adventurous or want to make a larger structure, you can purchase a readily available gingerbread house kit or bake your own.

You will need:

· Graham crackers: 10 per house to allow for mistakes!

· Royal icing for mortar (see recipe below)

· Piping bags and tips or gallon size freezer bags (make sure your bags have a nice square corner, not a pleated one)

· Decorative items such as: nuts, seeds, dried fruits, chocolate-dipped dried fruits, candied ginger slices, banana chips, marshmallows, pretzels, crackers, cereal of any kind, and cookies


· To color your royal icing “mortar” for a more rustic look, add a drop of black food coloring during mixing.

· To fill a zip top bag with the royal icing, stand the bag up in a tall glass before filling.

· Cut a tiny hole in one corner of the zip top bag after filling it. You can always cut a bigger hole, but you can’t make a big one smaller!

· Keep your icing bag in the refrigerator for touch ups or other projects during the holidays.

To build the house:

Use a large plate or sheet pan as a base so you can also create an amazing landscape around your house. Attach the graham crackers to each other with the royal icing by piping a line of frosting along the edge of one piece, pressing it against the adjoining piece, and holding them in place just until the icing sets. Prop up the pieces with cans of food or other heavy objects, if necessary, while they dry. Allow the house to dry for several hours before decorating. A graham cracker cut in half diagonally works well for the sides of the roof, or make yours a flat-roof house.

Royal Icing

3 egg whites *

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 (16 oz) box confectioner’s or powdered sugar Yield: 2 cups Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth and thick, about 7 minutes. When a knife blade drawn through the icing leaves a clean cut, it is ready. Chill in a tightly sealed container if you are not using it right away.

· Purchase pasteurized egg whites if you are concerned about using raw eggs.


Firewood pile: mini Tootsie Rolls

Shutters: sticks of gum

Rustic stone siding: chocolate cereal

Sand: brown sugar

Roofs: Oreo thins, Wheat Thins or Shredded Wheat cereal

Fences: pretzel sticks

Lamp Posts: pretzel sticks with marshmallows on top

Trees: green gum drops shaped like leaves (sold as “Spearmint Leaves”)

Pile of presents in a sleigh: decorated sugar cubes

Barnyard: animal crackers

Walkways: flat cookies or dried fruit

Snowmen: marshmallows with pretzel sticks for arms

Bamboo siding: pretzel sticks

Chimneys: sugar cubes or marshmallows

Snow: shredded coconut (can be sprinkled on for a snowy look on roofs and trees)

Photos: Matthew Carden—www.350degrees.com

Stumble Upon Toolbar


Thanksgiving Baking

It is technically still The "holiday weekend," right? I am out of time for a long post but wanted to share all the fun baking we did for the holiday. We made apple pie with salted pecan crumble, Limoncello macaroons and gluten free chocolate coconut brownies.

I got Kidlet involved by having her use the mortar and pestle to grind sea salt for the pie. She also loved using the apple peeler to peel and core the Granny Smiths. I will give the recipe below, we adapted the recipe from one I found a while ago on line.
Next we made Heidi's Lemoncello Macaroons, the dough is like play dough so Kidlet loved it. I let her cut the cookies from the long dough rope.
The dough is lovely to work with and the cookies, divine.

The Brownies were just my standard quick Gluten free go to, Pamela's Chocolate Brownie mix. I always add extra cocoa powder and vanilla to the mix. I use her frosting mix also, but make it very thin to coat the brownies with and add coconut to the top.

Today we snuck in a banana bread and gluten free corn bread for dinner!

Apple Pie with Salted Pecan Crumble

Salted pecan crumble:

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons (packed) light-brown sugar

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2/3 cup pecan pieces

5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

2 Pre made refrigerated pie crusts (The name escapes me but Whole Foods has an organic pre made pie crust we like)

Apple Filling:

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

6 (1/2 pound each) Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Vanilla Whipped Cream:

1 cup cold heavy cream

2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

1- 2 tablespoons cinnamon


To make salted pecan crumble: In a food processor, combine flour, sugars, salt, cinnamon, and 1/3 cup pecans; process until pecans are ground. Add butter and pulse until mixture is crumbly. Transfer crumble to a medium bowl; add remaining 1/3 cup pecans and, using your hands, crumble and squeeze mixture to form larger clumps. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Take one of the dough circles and wet one side, lay it on top of the other. Using a rolling pin, roll them together to make a thicker, larger circle. This will create a thicker dough and will give oyu more edge to work with.

Fold in half and ease gently into a 9-inch pie pan. Unfold dough, letting pastry overhang edge. Trim overhang to 1 inch. Fold under and flute or crimp edge. Refrigerate shell. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

To make apple filling: In a large bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch, and nutmeg until blended. Add apples and zest; toss until apples are evenly coated. Remove pie shell from refrigerator and spoon apple filling into it, mounding filling in center of pie. Sprinkle crumble evenly over top of pie, gently pressing into place; place pie on a baking sheet.

Bake 1 1/2 hours, or until filling is bubbly and topping is golden brown. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Dust top of pie with confectioners' sugar, if desired. Serve with cinnamon whipped cream.

To make Cinnamon whipped cream: In a large bowl with a hand-held mixer, beat heavy cream, confectioners' sugar, and 1 tablespoon cinnamon until soft billowy peaks form.

Stumble Upon Toolbar


Including the Kids with Pie Dough- Jelly Cat Rolls

Jelly Cat Rolls

My posts have been few and far between but that doesn't mean I have been just laying around! My family and I have been traveling, so cooking has been minimal. But we are back for a few weeks and are right back in the kitchen! When we were in Canada last week Claire got a treat from the grocery store, one for her and one for her cousin. The treat was an individual serving size rolled cake, vanilla with strawberry jam rolled in coconut. It was like a Little Debbie cake, not very good for you I am sure of that, she loved it! I assume she has been thinking about that treat because she recreated one!

My first Thanksgiving dessert was an apple pie, I had some leftover dough and when Kidlet saw it she instantly knew what she wanted to make with it.

Once she got the dough she asked me for jelly and coconut, both of which I had. I showed her how to roll the dough from the center out, she did a fine job. She spread jelly on it and sprinkled coconut on it then rolled it up. I helped her cut the pinwheels with a

big chef's knife. We chilled it for a few minutes before cooking and baked it for about 10 minutes and VOILA homemade strawberry roll ups!

Kids are funny, they know what they want and are perfectly capable of churning out their vision. This could be a good lesson for us grown ups, taking the lead from a kid. Just focus on what we want and make it happen, sometimes seems impossible but kids seem to do it with ease. Happy Holidays!

Stumble Upon Toolbar


Halloween 2010 - Treats and Insanity

I am writing this fast post between sleepover and costume application for my small yet scary Vampire child....Claire.

This Halloween seemed to come on like a huge wave. The water was calm, I turned around and WHAM right in the face! Usually I have a list of planned out treats to make for the various we go to. This year I was not focused at all, I was distracted by life, not ready for the "big game." I am only being overly dramatic because generally I love Halloween, I live to make disgusting treats once a year, like the Kitty Litter Cake or Severed Fingers. This year I was so overwhelmed with great ideas from my Twitter friends, magazines and bloggers that my brain became a scramble of ideas and then my head popped off!!

My first idea was to make Bakearella inspired Cake Pops like eyeballs on a fork. Then my ideas changed when I saw some cake pops that had witch hats made from Oreos. Let me save you from the thought process, anyway I went back and forth and eventually just let it become free form.
The Cyclops were and after thought, I was low on eyeballs so I decided to make a one eyed monster. I had black sprinkles and thought they make goofy hair, perfect! The second is a witch and the kids loved them.

I also saw some fake earwax Q-Tips so of course I made them and, they were my yuck factor.

Last but not least, Lychee "cow eyeballs"
I happened to have a can of Rambutan, I used creative licence and substituted them in for lychee, it worked just fine.
So I am just taking a few minutes to share our creepy treats with you. I'd love to see yours, leave links in the comments for me to see!! Happy Halloween!!

Stumble Upon Toolbar


Mango is a Star

In July The Stir did a nice little piece on Popsicles, and included my Minty Pea Pops as one of the reviewed. One of the other entries was from the Kitchen Enchantress she made a delicious looking mango ice cream. We are going to squeeze the very last bit of summer out of this recipe! The mangoes here have been so utterly delicious and juicy we've been gorging ourselves on them daily! We have giant Raposa here but the common one you will see int he store are reddish, greenish, yellowish and weigh about 1/2 pound. The small yellow mangoes are good too but you would need about 3 for this recipe. (see below for mango types) It would be fun to bring home two or three kinds and do a taste test with the kids. Once I saw the Stir's article I knew we just had to make the frozen treat. We had one more giant jucy mango in the fruit bowl just waiting to be eaten.

The recipe calls for frozen pineapple concentrate as an ingredient. I had a hard time finding this, I wanted organic and could only find orange. I thought I'd substitute orange because I was not in the mood to go to another store.
The surprise was, when I got home I found out I had grabbed raspberry concentrate instead! My first reaction was total disappointment, but we decided to make it work anyway, I was up for an experiment. Her recipe was very easy and fast, just my kind of recipe. I happen to have some very cute Popsicle molds and am always looking for a way to use them, this was perfect!

If you have never cut up a fresh mango it can be tricky but once you learn it makes sense. The pit inside a mango is long and flat, this means that to avoid it when cutting and there is a special technique to cut around it. I found this video and liked how Chef Allen shows how to tackle it. If you are going to dice the mango in the skin please be careful. I advise setting it on the cutting board and not cutting into your hand.
After cutting you should have 2 lobes and the middle with the pit in it. This is the part we fight over, peel it and eat the meat off the pit before you toss it. Now scoop out the meat from each lobe and put it in the food processor and follow the rest of the recipe.

Recipe adapted from Kitchen Enchantress

Creamy Mango Pops

These are so creamy and delicious, you'll want them again and again! If you don't have molds, just pour into a large zip-type plastic freezer bag, seal completely, and lay flat in your freezer for at least 2 hours. When frozen, scoop with a metal spoon to serve!!

2 very ripe meduim mangoes, with the skin and the pits removed
3/4 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup raspberry juice concentrate
1 Tablespoon agave nectar (or honey)

1. Blend all ingredients together in a food processor until creamy and smooth.
2. Pour into frozen treat molds, and place in freezer for at least a couple of hours, preferably overnight.
3. Remove from molds and ENJOY!
NOTE- I poured a bit of the concentrate into the top of the molds to make the pops very pretty.

Mango Types:

These are medium, rounder mangos with an oval-round shape. Haden mangos have skin that is yellow in color accompanied by a red-orange blush when ripe. They have a juicy and yellow pulp that is sweet in flavor and have moderate fiber.

Availability: March through June from Mexico

Tommy Atkins
Large, oblong shaped fruit with green skin that has some hues of red. Tommy Atkins are characterized by firm, juicy flesh with a smaller pit and moderate fiber. They emit a strong and pleasant scent.

Availability: February through July from Mexico


A large fruit, primarily green colored on the outside, with an occasional red blush. Kents have smooth flesh with minimal to mild fiber and are very juicy with a sweet, rich flavor.

Availability: June through August from Mexico


This large, oval-shaped fruit has green skin with a hint of a rosy-orange blush. Its flesh is smooth, sweet and juicy with mild fiber. Keitts have a flavorful aroma and also have a smaller pit than other green mango counterparts.

Available July through September from Mexico

Stumble Upon Toolbar