Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Are Your Sabotaging Your Health? - Hydrogenated Fats

So, you you're eating pretty healthy.  
That's great!  

You've heard the term "you are what you eat"  but you also FEEL like what you eat.
So how are you feeling?

Tired and sluggish?   
Angry for no reason?   

Not on top of your game?

Does your mind wander and you never seem to get anything done?

Are you sad and depressed all the time?

Do pounds creep up not matter how little you eat?

A healthier diet doesn't have to be difficult.
You don't have to make major changes all at once.   
Small, easy to manage steps add up to huge results.

Some foods, even though we've thought them to be healthy, are really keeping us from feeling good and looking our best.
It maybe time to tweak your "healthy" habits.

Hydrogenated (and partially hydrogenated) fats and oils are the number 1 sabotage to an other wise healthy diet.  You can't feel great, look good or loose weight when you eat hydrogenated fats.   It just can't be done!

Hydrogenated fats and oils are manufactured to be solid at room temperature. (Think white vegetable shortening like Crisco.)  They were invented during World War ll as a substitute for butter because butter was rationed. 

Today, hydrogenated fats are widely used in commercial baked goods because they're cheap and help keep foods from getting stale.  

Home cooks often use hydrogenated fats to make pie crusts, grease pans and fry chicken.  These are habits passed down from grandmothers who became accustomed to using the stuff during the 1940's. Other fats like butter, oil and even lard are easily used today.  

When a fat is "partially hydrogenated" it's semi solid at room temperature instead of completely solid. 

It's marketing slight of hand to persuade you that it's healthier.

Snack foods, microwave pop corn, salad dressings, commercial pies, and donuts are just the beginning. Partially hydrogenated fats and oils are used everywhere and, in my opinion, are just as bad.

Here's how to minimize (and hopefully eliminate) hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats from your diet:

1.  Be a label reader  
Choose products that don't list hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats on the label. Can't find your favorite foods without them?  Learn to make what you can't buy.

2.  Eat less fast food
Fast food is notoriously loaded with hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats.... only there are no labels to read.

3.  Choose restaurant food with care  
You'll begin to get a sense of what does and does not contain hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats from your familiarity with grocery store labels.  Use your knowledge as a guide when eating out.

Get rid of hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats and you'll be amazed how quickly you'll feel so much better.... and look so much better!

Good changes to your diet can be fun, painless and delicious plus you'll be rewarded with good health!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Vegetarian “No Meat” Balls

This is one of my all time favorite recipes!
Quick.  Easy.  Healthy!!

Next to my apple pie made without any added sugar, honey or artificial sweetener, this is our most requested recipe!

These "No Meat" balls don't have much flavor on their own but add them to a sauce and they are divine!!  

They soak up the sauce like a sponge and even the most dedicated carnivores will not know they are not meat!

I've tasted a lot of faux meat recipes.... meat balls, burgers, hot dogs - you name it. I've purchased a lot, too.

Most faux meats are bean, lentil or soy based which is OK but this walnut based faux meat is so much better tasting.  

The secret is to grind the oatmeal and the walnuts very finely in the food processor.

Use them in Italian recipes like spaghetti & meat balls or meat ball sandwiches.

Try them in Oriental or Polynesian recipes like sweet & sour meat balls.

Top them with cream sauce for the best Swedish meat balls this side of heaven.

Good poached in chicken soup, too!

Not only do they taste good but they are loaded with omega-3's so they are good for you!

Make them gluten free by using gluten free bread crumbs!

Every so often, I make multiple batches at one time and, when they're cool, I pack them into meal size freezer bags to stash in the freezer.  Then, whenever I need them, I just warm them up in a sauce.  They thaw in an instant!!

Sometimes I pack them as meals ready to reheat in the microwave.  

Call them "no meat" balls or "neat" balls as in n-not/m-eat balls  or "faux" balls... it doesn't matter.  These are sooooo much better than anything you can buy .... and much cheaper, too!

Vegetarian “No Meat” Balls
Uses a food processor & cookie sheet
Baking time - 30 minutes
Can be made ahead and refrigerated up 3 days or frozen up to 6 months


Makes 12 to 15 – 1/14” in diameter (golf ball size)


½ cup oatmeal (old fashioned or quick cooking – not instant)
¾ cup walnuts
1 medium onion
½ cup Italian flavored bread crumbs (regular or gluten free)
1 egg (1/4 cup)

Position oven rack so pan will bake in center.  Preheat to 350 degrees.  

Line a cookie sheet with foil (shiny side up) or baking parchment or mist with cooking spray.

Pulse the oatmeal in the food processor until it’s a fine powder – about 1 minute.

Transfer from processor to medium size bowl.

Pulse the walnuts in the food processor until finely ground – about 1 minute.
Add to oatmeal.

Cut the onion into chunks.  Pulse in the food processor until finely ground and it has released some liquid – about 1 minute.  Add to the oatmeal and walnuts. 

Stir in the bread crumbs & egg. 

Form into balls and place on prepared cookie sheet.  They do not spread so they can be close together.

Bake in preheated oven until very slightly browned on bottom – about 30 minutes. Do not over bake.  

Cool on pan.  

They can be used as soon as they are cool enough to handle.  

Friday, September 29, 2017

Take Control of Your Kitchen

Control their Meals, Control their Health

Good health tastes great!

Most children will eat sugary breakfast cereals, chips and soda all day long if you'd let them.

And husbands, well, barbecued anything comes to mind as does gallons of beer and coffee - followed by rolls of antacid tablets.

You know they should eat better but they won't.  "They're picky", you say.  

If you're in charge of the grocery shopping and the cooking then you're in charge of what the family eats.

Oh, they may complain ("meat loaf again?") but you'll never catch them going grocery shopping or cooking so it's time to dish up good health.  Here's how:
Healthy cookies?
Why not!
Update your favorite recipes!!

Don't scare them with good nutrition
The less said the better.  Just put the food on the table.

Serve new foods with family favorites.

If they comment, just say it's something you wanted to try.

What they don't know will help them.

Sneak in whole grains
Stir a little wheat germ or whole wheat flour into quick breads, yeast breads, pancakes and more.

Serve whole wheat or part whole wheat pasta.
Add a little dry, old fashioned style oatmeal to meatloaf.
Toast some whole grain bread crumbs to sprinkle over vegetables and casseroles.
Serve brown rice instead of white.

They'll never know the difference unless you tell them.

Uncooked salsa is
yummy way to get your
Keep dinners light
They don't need to eat a heavy meal at night then go to sleep.

Soups, salads, eggs, vegetarian pasta dishes even pancakes make delicious fare and will let them (and you) sleep better.

Better sleep makes everyone happier and healthier.

Serve raw fruits and veggies every day
Salads, sprouts, lettuce and tomato on sandwiches, fresh juices, gazpacho, fresh lemon juice spritzed on cooked fish - choose whatever you like.

The important thing is to have some raw fruits and vegetables each day.

Raw produce provides enzymes that your body needs.  Cooking and processing destroys enzymes.

Vary the menu
Get out of the meat and potatoes rut.  There's a whole world of delicious eating out there!

A good rule of thumb for meals is to serve a protein, a starch and two vegetables (one yellow or orange/one green) and a fruit but you can put this model together anyway you want.  Casseroles, crepes, soups, salads, pizza - have fun.

Keep healthy foods around
The world is full of junk food (and there's plenty of opportunities to eat it) so concentrate on good foods at home.

Stock the house with healthy (or at least healthier) snacks. Baked chips, whole grain crackers, low salt pretzels, salsa, fresh veggies, nuts, cheese, fruit, pudding, yogurt - you know what's good for them.  All they want is something quick to grab.

If you don't keep junk in the house, they won't be eating (or drinking) it - at home, anyway!
Make it yourself and 
you can control the amount
of sugar, fat and salt

Update favorite recipes
Don't be afraid to experiment.
Often, the amount of sugar, fat and salt a recipe calls for can be reduced.

Start by reducing the amount of sugar, fat and/or salt a little bit. Choose one or all.  See if you like the results.  Go from there till you have your favorite recipes tweaked the way you want them.

Don't eliminate too much too soon or you're sure to have a disaster.
When food tastes great, the family won't notice any difference.

Kick the artificial sweetener habit
Artificial sweeteners are poor substitutes for sugar.  They don't change sugar cravings and are linked to lots of health problems. 

Stevia is popular as a no calorie, no sugar, herbal sweetener but packaged stevia often contains artificial ingredients which you probably are also trying to eliminate from your diet.  Plus stevia has a slight after taste similar to that of artificial sweeteners. 

The best idea may be to use real sugar when you want it but limit the amount. Over time, tastes naturally adjust because the taste for sugar is something that is learned.

When appropriate, choose other sweeteners such as honey, agave and 100% maple syrup but they are still sugar.   Tame that sugar monster by using less of all sugars. 

Read labels.  Choose low sugar or no sugar breakfast cereals.  Pasta sauce made without sugar. Unsweetened juice, vegetables, salad dressings and more.  It's really easy once you get the hang of it. 

Serve low sugar desserts like baked apples, unfrosted cakes and home baked pies with reduced amounts of sugar.  Save high sugar foods only as occasional treats.

Soda should never be served as a beverage and, if you don't buy it, they won't be drinking it - at least not at home.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Improve Your Mood with Natural Food

8 Easy Ways Anyone Can Cook Better (& Eat Better) Today!

From the Kitchens of Cheesecake Farms
By Karla Jones Seidita, Home Economist

Here’s 8 easy ways to transform your good cooking into great!
No extra time in the kitchen required.
And you can start today!
Yes, Anyone!!

Your recipes will explode with taste.
Get ready for the complements!

1.  Avoid foods with corn syrup and/or high fructose con syrup.

Both mask taste.   
The exceptions are pecan pie, candy and some syrupy medicines.
  You can not make them successfully without corn syrup.

2.  Use sea salt from evaporated sea water.

Evaporated sea salt is light grey and contains a wonderful 
balance of nutrients that enhances the good taste of food.  
The exception is canning.  
Use mined (white) salt to keep canning liquids clear and fresh looking.

3.  Switch to aluminum free baking power.

Your baked goods will taste a thousand times better!
Aluminum dulls the flavor of baked goods.
It's not needed and not healthy.
   Available at grocery stores every where - just read the labels.

4.  Choose cane sugar over just “sugar”.

Cane sugar is made from sugar cane.
  “Sugar” is beet sugar which is fine but cane sugar is better… 
better texture, better clarity of flavor, better gels.

5.  Add a drop of hot sauce to savory egg recipes.

Quiche, souffles, scrambled eggs, egg salad, potato salad with 
hard boiled eggs and similar recipes all get  “wow”.

Add a smidgen of your favorite hot sauce even if your recipe 
doesn’t call for it - not enough to make it spicy (unless you want spicy).

Use less than you think for incredible depth of flavor.
  This is in addition to any black pepper you may be adding.

6.  Go natural when it comes to cocoa.

“Dutch Process” cocoa looks darker but natural cocoa tastes 
more chocolate-y.  
Also, the alkaline Dutch process often make 
white ingredients, like whipped cream, turn an unappetizing grey.

7.  Bake from scratch.

Baked goods from a box mix taste like they came from a box mix.
 You might as well save yourself the work and
 buy them ready made at a bakery.
 A couple of good, basic, easy, scratch recipes is all you’ll ever
 need then vary them to your hearts desire.

8.  Buy good olive oil and store it in the fridge.

Better quality olive oils are labeled: 100% extra virgin, first 
cold (or expeller) press.

 In the USA, olive oil by law can be cut with flavorless oils 
(like canola, soy bean or vegetable oils) 
without having to list it on the label.
  It's supposed to keep grocery store prices competitive.  

Brands that are 100% olive oil will want you to 
know so they put it on the label.

Extra virgin means the oil has a distinctive olive taste.

First cold press is the cleanest flavor.  
Olives are gently pressed to naturally squeeze out 
the oil – much like pressing grapes for wine.

If the label doesn’t say “cold (or expeller) pressed” then the 
olives have been “heat pressed”.

  Heat pressing crushes the pit in an effort to remove 
every last drop of oil.
  Heat pressed olive oils have an ashy, woody after taste.

Never store olive oil at room temperature.
  Decant your newly opened bottle of olive oil into a wide 
mouth, refrigerator safe glass jar.

Don’t store olive oil in plastic. 
Plastic is porous so your olive oil will pick up refrigerator smells.

Store olive oil in the fridge to keep it fresh.
  The oil will become solid but not hard.
  Scoop out the amount you want as needed.  
It liquefies in a couple of minutes.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Apple Enchiladas (Unfried Pies)

Looking for something yummy that's quick and easy?

Impress the socks off your gourmet pals with this family friendly - scrumptious dessert that you can whip up in less time than it takes to say "Ole!"

Less fat than a fried pie but so much gorgeous taste you'll be munching these by the plateful. Add a scoop of your favorite ice cream if you're feeling frisky.

A fun dessert or snack that's made from a couple of pantry staples. 

Why not skip your breakfast pop tart for breakfast and try one of these instead!

This is a flour tortilla
Use any brand
Also called "Sandwich Wraps"


Makes 4 enchiladas
Pan size not important but an 8 inch square pan works well


4 burrito size (9 inch) flour tortillas
1 (21 to 24 oz can) apple pie filling
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter (margarine not recommended)
3 tablespoons sugar
Garnish - ground nutmeg (to taste - about 1/8 teaspoon)

Position oven rack so the enchiladas will bake in the center. Preheat to 350 degrees. 

Lightly grease baking pan or coat with cooking spray.

Spoon pie filling onto tortillas dividing evenly. 
(Use the whole can.)

Fold the edges of two sides of a tortilla over the filling.

Roll up the tortilla firmly (with folded edges tucked inside). It will look like an egg roll.  Place seam side down in the prepared baking pan.  

Repeat with remaining tortillas.

In a small pot, melt butter and sugar together.  Stir well. 
Spoon evenly over filled tortillas covering each completely with mixture.  Sprinkle with nutmeg to taste.

Bake in preheated oven until hot and slightly golden - 35 to 40 minutes. 

Cool in pan 5 minutes before removing to plates for serving.  (A metal spatula or pancake turner works well.) 

1.  Put pie filling 
slightly off center
for easier rolling.

2.  Fold up the edges

3.  Roll it up

4.  Melt the butter and the sugar

5.  Spoon on butter & sugar 
covering each completely

6.  Sprinkle with nutmeg
& pop in the oven!

Karla's Tips
While margarine is not recommended, vegans can use a butter substitute. 
Oil is not recommended. 

In testing this recipe, we used Comstock "More Fruit" brand apple pie filling.  

Other fruit pie fillings could be used to vary the recipe.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Scrumptious (& Easy) Pumpkin Latte!

Our nights here at Cheesecake Farms have returned to crisp. Fall's coming!!! 

If you're planning on taking in the fall colors, now's the time to book a suite with us....  we have a fall special going on and you'll save a bundle on our "Visit our Local Wineries" package.

Make your fav gingerbread men
just squiggle them with white chocolate
  to turn them into Halloween goodies. 

Our barn is even painted in Fall colors .... pumpkin and white.... which makes me think of one of my fav fall drinks....  Pumpkin Latte!

Soooo easy to make yourself and you'll save a bundle over the coffee shop kind.

Made with real, natural ingredients, it's as nutritious as it is yummy!!!
Here's how:

Karla's Scrumptious Pumpkin Latte
(And it just happens to be LOADED with vitamin A and mega amounts of trace nutrients.... not to mention the sublime aroma therapy!!!  All you need to add is a weepy, chick flick..........yes!)

Makes 1 mug full

1 cup milk (any type - coconut, soy or almond milk, too)
2 tablespoons pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
Sugar to taste (I used 1 tablespoon raw sugar)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice (to taste)

Optional - 1/4 cup coffee or 1 shot espresso (or to taste)
Optional - jigger of your favorite spirits (bourbon, brandy, Southern Comfort, rum etc.)
Optional - whipped cream garnish

In a small pot, whisk together milk, pumpkin, sugar, & spice (plus coffee if desired).

Heat on medium (uncovered and stirring) until it boils and foams - almost to the point of boiling out of the pot (about 3 minutes).

Pour into mug - foam and all.  Sir in optional spirits and top with whipped cream, if desired.

Karla's Tips
Pot Size
It's boiling that makes the foam but, if you don't watch the pot, it will suddenly and without warning volcano all over the stove.  When the mixture starts to foam, immediately lift the pot straight up off the burner (as much as 8 to 12 inches) following the foaming.  This is called "lifting into the boil".  You are "catching" the milk before it winds up all over your stove.

Using the microwave is not recommended for this recipe only because you won't get any foam.  If you don't care about foam then it doesn't matter how you heat it.... just don't let it boil over because it will make a horrible mess.  

You can use any sweetener you like.... honey, sugar, brown sugar, maple syrup, agave..... artificial sweeteners are not recommended.  We don't think artificial sweeteners are safe to eat.

Want more pumpkin???

Pumpkin Butter for your breakfast bagel 
Home Made Pumpkin Ice Cream
Spicy Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin Brulee
Even Fresh Pumpkin Lasagna!

Lots of apple and pear recipes, too!
Perfect for Fall baking (& eating!!)

Order Karla's latest cook book on Amazon.
Kindle, too!

Just click the link: