This lovely chowder courtesy of the Gracehill Bed & Breakfast in Townsend, Tennessee can be made gluten-free by using corn starch in place of the flour.

Gluten Free Corn Chowder

Ingredients

2 C water
2 C diced peeled potatoes
½ C sliced carrots
½ sliced celery
¼ C chopped onion
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
¼ C butter (“Mom” prefers organic)
¼ C all-purpose flour or substitute 2 Tbsp of corn starch for the flour to make it gluten-free
2 C milk (“Mom” prefers organic)
3 C (12 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese (“Mom” prefers organic)
2 cans (14-3/4 ounces each) cream style corn
1 can while kernel corn

Preparation

Place water in a 2-quart microwave-safe dish, cover and heat until boiling. Add potatoes, carrots, celery, onion, salt and pepper. Cook, uncovered, on high for 8-10 minutes or until veggies are crisp tender; set aside (do not drain.) Meanwhile, in a 3-quart dish, microwave butter on high for 50-60 seconds or until melted. Stir in flour until smooth. Gradually stir in milk. Cook, uncovered, on high for 6-7 minutes or until thickened, stirring every 2 minutes. Add the cheese. Heat for 1 to 1-1/2 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Stir in the corn and reserved veggies. Cook on high for 2-3 minutes or until heated through.

Yield 10-11 servings, 2-1/2+ quarts.

*Recipe and image courtesy of BNBFinder.com.*
Recipe link: http://www.bnbfinder.com/?action=recipeDisplay&innId=16222&recipeId=1810

From the Cabernet Inn in North Conway, New Hampshire comes this savory recipe for spaghetti squash with a Tuscan touch!

Tuscan Spaghetti Squash

Ingredients

1 Medium Spaghetti Squash
2 Tbs. Butter (“Mom” prefers organic)
2 Tbs. Olive Oil
1 Medium Onion, chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, chopped fine
9 Sundried Tomatoes, julienne and marinated in olive oil for about 1 hr. See note below.
1 Portabella Mushroom Cap, quartered and sliced thin (1/4”)
10 oz white mushrooms, sliced
1 Lb. Asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 15oz can Chick Peas, drained
1 can Contadina diced Tomatoes with Garlic
2 tsp Fresh Rosemary, chopped
2 tsp Dried Cumin
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preparation

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray. Cut the squash in half, remove seeds and fibers. Salt and pepper the inside cavity. Place cut side down on the cookie sheet. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes. Squash is done when the outer skin is easily pierced with a fork.

While the squash is baking, start preparing the sauce. Using a large sauté pan or non-stick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 2 minutes more. Add the all the mushrooms, sundried tomatoes and a dash of salt. The salt will help the mushrooms release their juices. Sauté for about 5 minutes. Add the Asparagus. Continue to sauté for another 5 minutes. Now add the chick peas, diced tomatoes, rosemary, cumin, pepper and salt. Let Sauté over low heat, stirring occasionally while the squash is finishing.

When the squash comes out of the oven, holding with an oven mitt and using a fork, scrape pulp into a large bowl. The pulp should resemble spaghetti. Using another skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add squash and sauté until all the squash has been coated well. Transfer squash onto a deep serving platter, creating a nest. Fill the nest with the sauce mixture. Enjoy!

Note – Sundried tomatoes can be purchased already cut and in olive oil. In this case you would use roughly 36 julienne strips.

Yields – 4 servings.

Serving suggestions: Sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese. If you like it on the spicy side, add 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes when you add the other spices.

*Recipe and image courtesy of BNBFinder.com.*

Winter calls for a warm, hearty soup, like this delicious version of Tomato Basil Soup from the Whitestone Country Inn in Kingston, Tennessee!

Tomato Basil Soup

Ingredients

1 Qt Heavy Cream (“Mom” prefers organic half & half)
1 15oz can of crushed or diced Tomatoes
1 15oz can of Tomato Sauce
1 Qt Water
1 Tbsp Chicken Base
1/2 Cup of Dried or Fresh Basil
1/2 Tsp Salt
1/2 Tsp Black Pepper
1 Cup Graded Parmesan Cheese
1 Tsp Granulated Garlic

Preparation

Bring water to a boil and add Chicken Stock. Add Tomato Sauce, Tomatoes, Basil, Salt & pepper. Thicken with a Roux or Cornstarch. Cook until thickened. Turn off heat and add cheese.

*Recipe and image courtesy of BNBFinder.com.*

Eat Better, Risk Less, Reduce Cruelty: An “Eggs”-planation

The next time you eat an egg, you may care to spare a thought for the hen which laid it—and what you can do to make her life and your own a bit better.

The Problem

At this very moment, throughout the U.S. and Canada, more than 300 million hens are living lives of intense pain and suffering as they labor to produce one of our most basic food staples — eggs.

Some 95 percent of egg-laying hens in this part of North America live their entire lives in small cages that they share with five or six other birds, in rows and stacks that fill dark warehouses. These chickens —intelligent, social animals—cannot spread their wings or even turn around. Their bones become brittle and they are bruised, battered and some cannot even stand.

The practice is banned in many countries, and it’s not only bad for the hens, it’s also bad for the people who eat the eggs. “The extraordinary levels of stress the hens experience, along with their deplorable living conditions, suppress their immune systems and make them highly vulnerable to infections and bacteria, including Salmonella,” points out Executive Director, World Society for the Protection of Animals US (WSPA)—one of the world’s leading animal welfare organizations.

An Answer

Fortunately, there is another way. Hens don’t need to be kept in cages to produce lots of eggs. Cage-free farming provides significantly improved living conditions for hens and a safer, more wholesome product for consumers.

What You Can Do

1. Whenever you buy eggs you can choose the cage-free kind—they’re available at most grocery stores.
2. Encourage others to do so too, supporting the farmers who do things right.
3. Ask your favorite restaurants if they use cage-free eggs in their kitchens.
4. Look for labels that say cage-free, free range or certified organic.

You can visit www.choosecagefree.org to get more information on how you can join the flock.

*Article and image courtesy of NAPS.*

Reishi Mushroom Offers Hope For Living Healthier Longer

When most people think about longevity, they don’t usually think about the immune system. Without the ability to fight off infections and abnormal cells, however, they wouldn’t live very long. This is where the reishi mushroom comes into play.

It’s been used for thousands of years and flourishes mainly on the trunks of plum trees. It’s very scarce, however…out of 10,000 plum trees, perhaps two or three will have reishi growth.

Today, there are over 5,000 studies documenting the health benefits of the six primary types of reishi—red, black, blue, white, yellow and purple. Traditionally, black and red reishi have been credited with the most significant health-enhancing effects.

Black and Red Reishi Activate Immune Cells

Reishi’s immune-enhancing properties are probably the most notable. Reishi is used to fight immuno­senescence—the loss of immune function that comes with age. Aging adults produce fewer white blood cells—the immune cells responsible for fighting against bacteria, viruses and abnormal cells.

According to Michael Smith, M.D., senior health science specialist with Life Extension in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and host of Healthy Talk radio on WWNN-AM, reishi mushroom extract can increase production of white blood cells from your bone marrow.

“Not only that, reishi helps to activate dendritic cells,” says Dr. Smith. “These cells present bacterial and viral antigens like to antibody-producing cells called B cells. As a result, you’re able to effectively fight infections before getting too sick. And if you do happen to get sick, you’ll feel better faster with more antibodies on board.”

Intrinsic Antioxidants

Reishi mushrooms are also believed to activate intrinsic antioxidants, helping to reduce oxidative stress, one of the leading theories of aging. Highly reactive oxygen compounds, generated from environmental toxins and normal cellular metabolism, bind to healthy cells and tissues, causing damage.

Naturally occurring compounds in reishi can boost intrinsic anti­oxidants, sequestering the damaging oxygen compounds and preserving healthy cell and tissue function. In animal models, reishi was shown to increase the intrinsic antioxidant activity of plasma glutathione by 34 to 42 percent, liver catalase by 19 to 30 percent and liver glutathione by 9 percent.

Boosting liver antioxidants, such as catalase and peroxidase, is considered an extremely important strategy for living longer, given the toxic environment. The EPA estimates that over 70,000 industrial chemicals are used in the U.S.

“And if that’s not enough to make you sick,” says Dr. Smith, “government scientists estimate the average American has over 700 chemicals in his or her blood- stream at any given time.”

Living Healthier Longer

A weak immune system and high levels of oxidative stress are counterproductive to living health­ier longer. For many, reishi mushroom extract offers real hope for reversing these two aging processes.
The reishi mushroom extract complex delivers powerful compounds and represents the next generation of natural immune support. For more information about reishi mushroom extract, visit www.LEF.org/reishi or call 1-866-748-7542.

Editor’s Note: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

*Article courtesy of NAPS. Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.com.*

Eliminate Your Children’s “Sneezes and Wheezes” this Winter

Most parents expect the winter months to lessen their children’s allergies because there’s no pollen in the air, but allergies still affect many kids this time of year because of what’s inside your home: cats, dogs, dust mites, mold and more.

Robin Wilson is CEO of Robin Wilson Home, an ambassador to The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America and has a hypoallergenic bedding line at Bed Bath and Beyond. She says most parents don’t realize that their home is probably making their kids sick, but there are simple solutions to help eliminate the “wheezes and sneezes.”

Here are 8 simple ways to make your home cleaner and safer which will help reduce asthma attacks and allergies this winter!

1. For allergy and asthma sufferers, make sure and use synthetic pillows over feathered ones, and anti-allergen or hypoallergenic pillow cases and covers. Wash your pillow case once a week, your pillow protector at least once a month and wash your pillow at least twice a year. Replace pillows every three years.

2. Don’t use a vinyl shower curtain because it holds mold more easily and off gases. Use a nylon curtain instead. It’s also less expensive.

3. Use non-VOC paints in your child’s bedroom which won’t off gas, leave an obnoxious paint odor and stir up asthma or allergies. It looks just as good on the wall as regular paint.

4. Avoid wall-to-wall carpeting. Tile and hardwood floors are a much better choice, but must be vacuumed or cleaned on a regular basis to eliminate dirt and dust. Shake out and vacuum area rugs on a regular basis as well. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter.

5. Watch for mold in the dishwasher and refrigerator pan which can build up quickly in the kitchen.

6. One of the biggest trends today is eco-friendly cabinetry because it has no formaldehyde adhesives and is made with low VOC stains. Consider frameless cabinets which won’t collect as much dust.

7. Use slip covers on sofas and chairs which can be washed regularly to eliminate dirt and dust.

8. Keep pets out of your child’s bedroom and definitely don’t ever let them on the bed. Pets should be bathed often to reduce dander.

Crunchies has taken a classic idea and twisted it around a bit – actually, they have turned it upside down! It’s simple, delicious and much healthier than your average French toast. You don’t even need syrup when it’s done, as it’s already unbelievably flavorful.

Crunchies Baked Fruit French Toast

Ingredients

1 Tbsp unsalted butter (“Mom” prefers organic)
1 large sweet apple peeled, cored and thinly sliced
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup Maple syrup
1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1 container (2 cups) Mixed Fruit Crunchies*
1 – 2 teaspoons orange zest (optional)
6-10 slices of bread cut 1″ thick (French is the classic choice but any lighter bread will do)
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4 cups milk or soymilk (“Mom” prefers organic)
3 large eggs and 1 egg white (“Mom” prefers organic)

Medium sized casserole dish (Pyrex or ceramic – about 12″ x 9″ x 2″)

Preparation

1. Melt the butter and sauté the apples until soft (about 5 minutes), add the water, syrup, 1/4 t cinnamon, 1/2 t vanilla and Mixed Fruit Crunchies. Simmer until all the liquid is absorbed (about 8 minutes). Put the fruit mixture into the bottom of the dish and place the sliced bread on top.

2. Beat the eggs, remainder of cinnamon, vanilla and orange zest. Add the milk and beat together. Pour over the bread. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In the morning, remove the dish from the refrigerator and allow to get to room temperature (about 30 minutes). Uncover, put in the over and bake until golden brown and a knife inserted comes out clean (about 30 minutes). Let rest for a few minutes and then loosen the edges with a knife and use spatula to dish up. For a more dramatic presentation, place a serving plate on top of the dish and flip over to serve.

*Recipe and image courtesy of Crunchies.*

Crunch on this! For healthful noshing in the New Year to keep weight loss goals in check, Crunchies® natural snacks are the perfect alternative to a bag of potato chips! The freeze-dried fruits and vegetables keep adults and kids alike crunching on a wide variety of fruits and veggies! “Mom” is loving that there are only 100 calories or less per serving, and the crunch factor plus the fresh, tart fruit & vegetable taste is extremely tasty.

The Crunchies® line of freeze-dried fruits and vegetables are free of additives, chemicals, preservatives or unhealthy ingredients, and come in convenient resealable for easy snacking anytime. These make great nutritious additions to your child’s lunchbox, too!

Why do we love Crunchies®?

No sugar added
No Preservatives
Gluten/Wheat Free
Kosher Certified
Non GMO
Approved by Weight Watchers
Fat free fruits; low fat veggies
Less than 100 calories per serving
Crunchies have a 24 month shelf life and are in resealable bags so they stay fresh after being opened

Crunchies® are available in four varieties, including Fruit Crunchies®, Veggie Crunchies®, Organic Crunchies® and Corn Crunchies®. In addition, they now have smaller Munch Paks available in the following fruit varieties: Cinnamon Apple, Mango, Mixed Fruit, Pear, Pineapple and Strawberry.

Not just for snacking on, Crunchies® can also be used in recipes, and the website offers an interesting recipe selection using Crunchies® for more fun in the kitchen!

To learn more about Crunchies®, please visit www.crunchiesfood.com.

*Company generously provided samples and images for this piece.*

Za’atar is a Middle Eastern seasoning mixture that usually contains thyme, oregano, basil, sumac, and sesame seeds. It’s delicious sprinkled over this soft, pillowy flatbread from the chef-owner of Oleana.

What to buy: Za’atar can be purchased at Middle Eastern grocers or online.

Francisco’s Manaaeesh (Flatbread with Za’atar) Recipe
.
Ingredients

1 (1/4-ounce) packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
3/4 cup warm water (110°F to 120°F)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling the bowl
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup za’atar

Preparation

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, mix the yeast into the warm water and let the mixture stand until a gentle foam blooms across the surface, about 10 minutes. The water must be under 120°F or it will kill the yeast.

Whisk in 1/4 cup of the oil and add the flour and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt.

Using the dough hook, stir on low speed until the flour is combined and it forms a dough. Increase the speed to medium and knead the dough for 7 to 8 minutes, until the dough is still sticky to the touch but stays on the dough hook in one piece.

Lightly oil a large stainless or glass bowl and scoop the dough into it. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours or overnight; the dough should double in volume.

About 2 hours before baking, brush 2 tablespoons of the oil on a heavy baking sheet, place the dough on the sheet, and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise again for 1 1/2 hours at room temperature.

Heat the oven to 375°F and arrange a rack in the middle.

Press the dough onto the baking sheet, using your hands to stretch and pull it into the corners, forming a flat 10-by-12-inch rectangle. Make dimples in the dough with your fingertips (this creates little pockets for the oil and za’atar to collect in) and brush the dough with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

Sprinkle the za’atar evenly over the dough and then sprinkle the whole bread with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Let the dough rest for at least 20 to 30 minutes more, uncovered and at room temperature.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown on the edges and cooked all the way through in the center. Serve warm.

*Recipe and image courtesy of CHOW.com.*

Fricassee is a classic French stew of chicken and vegetables, cooked in white wine and finished with a touch of cream. The light tarragon-infused sauce begs to be sopped up with crusty bread.

Chicken Fricassee with Tarragon

Ingredients

2 1/2 pounds chicken, pieces (breast halves, thighs, and drumsticks) – bone-in, skin removed
1/4 teaspoon salt
Black Pepper – to taste
2 tablespoons flour, all-purpose
1 tablespoon oil, olive, extra virgin
5 large shallot(s) – finely chopped, (about 1 cup)
1 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups broth, chicken, less sodium (“Mom” prefers organic)
1 medium carrot(s) – peeled and thinly sliced
1 pound mushrooms, fresh small button – wiped clean and halved or quartered
4 sprig(s) tarragon, fresh
4 teaspoons tarragon, fresh – chopped
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup sour cream, reduced-fat (“Mom” prefers organic)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Preparation

1. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge in flour, shaking off the excess. Heat oil in a large deep skillet or Dutch oven. Add chicken; cook until browned, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

2. Add shallots to the pan; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add wine and scrape up any browned bits. Simmer until reduced slightly, about 3 minutes.

3. Add broth; bring to a simmer. Return the chicken to the pan; add carrot, mushrooms and tarragon sprigs. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer gently until the chicken is tender and no longer pink in the center, about 20 minutes.

4. Transfer the chicken to a plate; cover with foil to keep warm. Discard tarragon sprigs. Increase heat to medium-high. Simmer the cooking liquid for 2 to 3 minutes to intensify flavor.

5. Add cornstarch mixture and cook, stirring, until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Whisk in sour cream, mustard and chopped tarragon. Serve immediately.

*Recipe and image courtesy of BetterEats.com.*