Recipes & DIY

Sugar Swap: How to Replace Sugar with Healthier Sugar Alternatives [VIDEO]

Wednesday, February 19, 2014 by Kaitlin W

Health Sugar Substitutions

Dr. Lustig’s informative video proclaims sugar ought to be viewed “like cigarettes and alcohol, as something that’s killing us.” Copious in-depth articles showcase the many sources of evidence against sugar. And widely popular diets are kicking out refined sugars left and right!

Unless you’re living under a rock, you’ve heard the news: there is a staggering amount of research out there that confirms a seemingly simple fact: refined sugar is bad. It's bad for your mind, bad for your weight, bad for your teeth, bad for your overall health—just BAD. But this simple fact presents a complex problem. Refined sugar is in SO much of what we eat on a daily basis. It has infiltrated our whole wheat bread, for goodness sake! But good news...you can easily swap in healthier alternatives.

 

Sugar Replacement Chart

Sugar Alternatives Measurement Chart

In the video below, we briefly outline the problems with refined sugar and offer some healthy alternatives that you can experiment with in order to use the substitution that best complements whatever it is you're cooking or baking! So next time you make those brownies, consider using honey, agave or even applesauce. Give Mother Nature a chance to showcase her natural sweetness instead of manmade granulated crystals.

Watch the video below for even more ideas for sugar substitutions and learn how to begin cutting refined sugar from your daily diet! It will be worth it, I promise!

 

Tomato Couscous with Lemon Roasted Asparagus and Sautéed Sole

Thursday, January 30, 2014 by Chef Lauren

This well-balanced meal features a variety of healthy and organic food items from SwansonVitamins.com and takes only about 30 minutes from start to finish!

Couscous is a traditional North African grain dish and is one of my favorite starches to make. It is made from semolina wheat granules and only takes 5 minutes to cook. The best part is that there are endless ways to flavor it!

This recipe channels the flavors of Provence with tomatoes, garlic, onions and lemon.  These ingredients provide vitamins A, B6 and C  and minerals manganese, copper and calcium. Cashews give the dish added protein and varies the texture quite nicely. Parmesan cheese adds depth of flavor for a perfect side.

Swanson Spices

Tomato Couscous

Ingredients:

Directions:

  • Heat olive oil and herbs in a medium sauce pot over medium high heat.
  • Once oil is hot add garlic and onions and sauté until translucent.
  • Add tomatoes, 2 tbsp water, and lemon juice and simmer until tomatoes pop.
  • Once tomatoes have popped add remaining 2 cups of water and chicken base. Bring to a boil.
  • Once water is boiling add couscous and cashews. Place a lid on the saucepot and turn off heat.
  • After 5-7 minutes remove lid and fluff couscous with a fork. Add parmesan, salt and pepper to taste and serve.

tomato couscous

 

Lemon Roasted Asparagus

I found Garlic Gold’s Garlic Parmesan Nuggets on the Swanson website, and I just had to try them. They are a unique blend of garlic and parmesan and can lend themselves easily to any dish that needs some “oomph”.

Today, I decided to try them with asparagus. Trust me, it’s a winning combination! Asparagus is an easy way to get tons of vitamins. Asparagus is rich in vitamins C and K and folate and minerals manganese and selenium. The best part is that it’s finished in minutes.

Asparagus

Ingredients:

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350° F.
  • Trim the woody ends off of the asparagus.
  • Toss trimmed asparagus with olive oil, lemon juice, parmesan garlic nuggets, salt and pepper.
  • Place asparagus on a baking sheet (I used a oven-safe skillet).
  • Roast asparagus for 5-10 minutes depending on your preference. 5 minutes will be al dente, 10 minutes will be softer but with nice caramelization.

 

Sauteed Sole with White Wine Pan Sauce

Sautéed sole is the final component of this meal. Sole is a flaky white fish similar to flounder. Keeping with the theme of the rest of the meal, sole cooks in just a few minutes. Sole is a low fat fish and a source of selenium, which aids in immune health.

Ingredients:

Directions:

  • Heat olive oil over medium high heat.
  • Sprinkle salt and pepper over both sides of the sole fillets.
  • Once oil is hot, add the sole and sear for 2-3 minutes before flipping.
  • Sear for 3 minutes on the other side. Remove fish from pan and turn the heat down to medium.
  • Add white wine to pan and reduce.
  • Turn off the heat once the wine has reduced and add the butter while stirring with a whisk.
  • Pour pan sauce over the sole and serve.

Nutty, Vegetarian Recipes Featuring Cashews, Almonds, Pecans & Pistachios

Thursday, December 26, 2013 by Chef Lauren

This week I’m going nuts for nuts. Nuts are a versatile ingredient in the kitchen and offer loads of nutrients that benefit your body. Studies indicate that nuts are particularly good for your heart and might even extend your life. A few ounces of nuts per day can have major long-term health benefits.

Nuts are rich in heart-healthy fats known as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. They are also an excellent source of protein, which is great, because this week’s recipes are all vegetarian. Nuts are also rich in the antioxidant vitamin E, as well as riboflavin and selenium.

This week’s recipes are not only vegetarian, they’re also gluten free. If you follow a gluten free diet, these recipes will add variety to your recipe collection. If you don’t follow a gluten free diet, you won’t miss the wheat products one bit.

 

Watercress Salad with Pickled Radishes & Mixed Nuts

I love this salad. The peppery watercress is perfectly complemented by the pickled radishes and salty nuts. You may notice that there isn’t really a dressing for this salad. I like the way that just olive oil and champagne vinegar bring out the natural flavors of the other ingredients for a refreshing and crunchy treat.

Ingredients

8-10 whole Radishes

½ cup plus 1 tsp Champagne Vinegar

1 tsp Sugar

½ tsp Himalayan Crystal Salt

4 cups Watercress

½ cup Cashew, Almond & Pistachio Mix

Salt and Pepper to taste

2 tbsp Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil

¼ cup Hot Water

 

Directions

            Pickled Radishes:

  1. Mix ½ cup champagne vinegar with sugar, salt and ¼ cup hot water.
  2. Add radishes and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Salad:

  1. Toss watercress, pickled radishes, cashew, almond & pistachio mix, and a dash of salt and pepper with olive oil and 1 tsp champagne vinegar.

 

Acorn Squash Tart

Savory tarts are my absolute favorite. I make them all the time, for every occasion. They seem complicated, but are actually very easy. They simply require a little bit of time and patience and you will shock your family and friends. The fall flavors in this tart are particularly delicious.

Acorn Squash Tart

Ingredients

 

Acorn Squash Tart

Directions

            Tart Dough:

  1. Grind pecans in a food processor until they are powdery.
  2. Add flour, coconut oil, pecans and salt to the food processor.
  3. Blend until the ingredients begin to come together. You may need to add 2-4 tablespoons of ice water to bring mix together. If needed, add water slowly.
  4. Remove dough from food processor, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  5. After 30 minutes remove dough from refrigerator and thinly roll out dough to fit in a tart tin with removable bottom. Alternatively you may also press the dough into the tart pan.
  6. Bake dough at 350° F for 15 minutes.
  7. Let the crust cool before adding tart filling.

Tart Filling:

  1. Cut acorn squash in half and scoop out seeds. Place squash in an oven safe container filled ¼ of the way with water and bake at 350° F for 20 minutes. Allow to cool.
  2. Slice onions thinly and add to a pot with coconut oil. Sautee at medium heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Onions are done when they are soft and browned.
  3. While the squash is cooling combine cream cheese, egg, goat cheese, rosemary, sage, and honey in food processor. Blend until smooth.
  4. Remove skin from acorn squash and slice the squash in ¼ in thick slices.
  5. Pour cream cheese mixture into cooled crust. Layer the caramelized onions on top. Add sliced squash. Top with parmesan cheese and bake for 25 minutes.
  6. Broil for 2 minutes to brown the top. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before slicing.
  7. Garnish with sliced scallions.

Squash Tart

 

Almond Meringue Cookies with Maple Almond Butter

I developed these cookies in homage to the illustrious French macaron. Macarons are amazing meringue cookies that are tough to get right. This recipe draws from the same ingredients in macarons and a similar process, but with no fuss and no need to worry about them coming out just so. When I discovered Justin’s Nut Butter Maple Almond Butter, I knew it had to be the filling for these cookies. The salty butter is a perfect complement to the sweet almond cookies.

IngredientsAlmond Meringue Cookies

Directions

  1. Beat egg whites until they are a medium peak.
  2. Add granulated sugar and almond extract and continue to beat until stiff peaks.
  3. In a separate container combine powdered sugar, salt and almond flour.
  4. Add ½ egg whites to almond flour mix and fold until ingredients are combined. Add remaining egg whites and almond flour and continue to fold until combined.
  5. Spoon meringue cookie mixture into 1.5 inch circles on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
  6. Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes at 350° F.
  7. Once cookies are cool remove from baking sheet. Spread maple almond butter on the smooth side of the cookie and sandwich with another cookie.

 

Sweet Perks of Cinnamon Spice (The "Sweet Spice")

Thursday, December 19, 2013 by Jenessa McAllister

Cinnamon rolls, snickerdoodle cookies, Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Those are the first things I thought of when I began researching this cinnamon-focused blog post. I thought to myself, “What a delicious assignment!” Little did I know, cinnamon is one of the most widely used and highly beneficial spices out there. It can be sprinkled, simmered, baked with or taken as a supplement. It’s full of nutrients and has long been known as a blood sugar regulator, not to mention countless other health benefits.

Similar to my recent post on ginger, I went on a cinnamon investigation. I came across tips, recipes and fun facts that I hope you’ll enjoy. Let me know if you’ve got a unique recipe or use for cinnamon; I’d love to hear from you!


About Cinnamon: "The Sweet Spice"

There are more than 250 species of Cinnamon, which leads to information overload. Here’s what you need to know: Cinnamomum verum (or Ceylon Cinnamon) is known as “true cinnamon.” Cinnamomum cassia is less expensive, and is the most common use of the word “cinnamon.” Most of the research for diabetes and blood sugar management involves C. cassia. Cassia has a stronger flavor, but C. verum is generally considered to have a more delicate flavor suitable for desserts.

different types of cinnamon

 

Fast Facts About Cinnamon:

  • Cinnamon is the third most popular spice, only behind pepper and mustard
  • Full of nutrients—calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, vitamins A, B1, B2, B3 and C, and more
  • Should not be used in large amounts during pregnancy
  • Can be used to add flavor to almost any food or beverage
  • Made from the bark of the tree
  • Has been used since ancient times
  • Acts as a natural food preservative
  • China, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Vietnam together produce about 98% of the world’s cinnamon
  • Available in multiple forms, including cinnamon oil, which is steam distilled from the leaves and twigs
  • Ground cinnamon lasts about 6 months; cinnamon sticks last about 1 year

 

What are the Health Benefits of Cinnamon?

Being one of the most versatile spices out there, the ways to use cinnamon are endless. Most of the benefits come from consuming it, but it also is shown to deliver an energizing scent that increases alertness. People also say that it helps keep bugs away in homes, which is always a good thing! Here are several ways that consuming cinnamon is beneficial:

- Relieves diarrhea and nauseacinnamon health benefits

- Counteracts congestion

- Aids circulation

- Warms the body

- Fights fungal infection

- Shown to lower blood sugar

- Fights bad breath

- Effective for menstrual pain and infertility

- Reduces pain linked to arthritis

- Useful for weight loss, yeast infection and uterine hemorrhaging

 

ways to use cinnamon

 

Cinnamon Recipes (and How They Turned Out)

When it comes to using cinnamon in my everyday life, I must admit that I have only tried it in sweet recipes. For the sake of this post—and for the sake of trying something new—I decided to try one sweet recipe and one savory. Enjoy!


cinnamon sugar pita chip recipeCinnamon Sugar Pita Chips

First off, I made pita bread according to the Pita Bread recipe we recently featured on the Swanson Recipes page. Then, I modified this recipe for Garlic & Herb Pita Chips. Here are the easy-to-follow steps:

1. Position oven racks in middle and lower third of oven; preheat to 350° F.  Coat two large baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray.
 
2. Cut pitas into 8 wedges each and separate each wedge at the fold.  Place the pita wedges rough-side up, in an even layer on the prepared baking sheets.  Brush with oil and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.
 
3. Bake the pita wedges, switching the baking sheets halfway through, until golden and crispy, 6 to 10 minutes (depending on the thickness).

Note: I found it helpful to switch my oven to broil at the end of the 6 to 10 minutes, for extra crispiness.
 

Savory Cinnamon Chicken

Who doesn’t love a good slow cooker meal? I found a great recipe from this fun blog called Life With 4 Boys. The recipe recommends combining all of the ingredients and then freezing them in a zip-top bag until you’re ready to use, but I decided to make mine the next day, so I just refrigerated it over night.

Ingredients:

2 lb. chicken breasts (you can use legs or thighs if you prefer)
2 bell Peppers, sliced
1 onion, diced
2 tsp paprika
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp cinnamon
1 c. chicken broth
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Step 1: Combine all ingredients in a gallon zip-top freezer bag. Make sure all the air is out before sealing shut.

Step 2: Remove the meal from the freezer the night before serving and defrost in the fridge.

Step 3: Pour contents of the bag into your slow cooker and cook on low for 6 hours or high for 4.

cinnamon chicken recipe

 

Other Fun Finds

In my research for this post, I came across a couple of interesting uses for cinnamon, besides the traditional ones.  Enjoy!
 

cinnamon hair dye experimentCinnamon—a natural hair dye?

Just when I thought I had seen everything cinnamon-related that the Internet had to offer, I found a bunch of blog posts that said that cinnamon would lighten hair. Naturally, I had to give it a try. I didn’t follow any one recipe; I just came up with my own, and tried it on a small section of my hair.


The first time I tried it, I put conditioner on my wet hair first, then added the water/cinnamon paste. I left it on all night, covered in plastic wrap, and washed my hair in the morning. Nothing. I tried it a few more times, each with a different ratio of cinnamon to water, and even included lemon juice a couple times. Still no results! Sadly, I think this might be a bust.
 

Cinnamon Crafts!

I've always loved the idea of decorating with cinnamon sticks. Especially around the fall/winter months, they deliver a glorious smell to your entire house. I saw a few ideas online, and sort of combined them all to make up my own. Here's what I came up with:

1. Select a glass piece to decorate. I went to the thrift store and bought a 75-cent candle holder. Keep in mind the larger the piece, the more cinnamon sticks you'll need.

2. Glue cinnamon sticks in place with a hot glue gun.

3. Decorate! I wrapped twine around my candle holder several times, until I liked the look of it. Then I hot glued a flower on the front, where the seam of the twine was. The flower works as a way to keep everything in place, all while making it look great!

cinnamon stick diy craft glue gun  cinnamon stick vase candle diy project

 What You Had to Say--Facebook Fan Tips:

I coat my chicken with a cinnamon/salt/pepper blend and fry it in coconut out [oil]. ~ Terry S.

I blend frozen bananas and cinnamon to make some tasty ice cream ~  Matthew

Honey, water, organic apple cider vinegar, ginger, cinnamon. Make a hot drink or serve cold ~ Elizabeth S.  (look here for more apple cider vinegar uses)

cinnamon baking soda carpet freshener

Cinnamon toast, of course! I buy a sprouted flourless bread from Trader Joe's, toast it, sprinkle lots of cinnamon on it, then drip some organic honey over the top, spread it around, and enjoy a wonderful, healthy desert! ~ Leslye R.

Dump one ooling tea bag, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ginger, dash of cayenne pepper in a measuring cup. Pour 8 oz boiling water over the mess, steep until it cools a bit. Remove the tea bag, then pour the rest into a 16 oz insulated mug filled with ice. Top it off with water. Drink. Repeat. ~ Joellen F.

We use it in oatmeal, pumpkin. Pancakes, banana smoothies, over baked apples, in coffee and on chicken. It's such a versatile spice. ~ Janet G. 

cinnamon in sand box

Mix with xylitol or truvia and sprinkle on sliced bananas. That is my 2 year old's favorite. ~ Katie H.

On my oatmeal, on sweet potatoes, and with a little butter and brown sugar on butternut squash. ~ Evelyn V.

I put it in my coffee filter before I put the coffee in & run the water thru...it is wonderful!! ~ Dawn H.

Our favorite way is to sprinkle cinnamon and olive oil on sweet potato slices, bake them in the oven for some heathy and tasty "fries." ~ Cymry M.

Cinnamon, Ginger, Turmeric and a little cumin in a spice jar all together. Sprinkle it on hot/cold cereal, waffles, French toast, tea, and cocoa. Also for sore throat, cinnamon, lemon, honey and hot water. ~ Vanessa B.

French toast, toast, in hot tea with some honey, oatmeal, and almost all my baked stuff (banana bread, cookies, apple walnut bread, cakes) ~ Bonnie C.

cinnamon infused water

Cinnamon is my secret ingredient in chicken salad. I sprinkle it on the mayo before stirring it all together. Yum. ~ Jackie W.

In my coffee every morning. Everyone at work says it smells so good! ~ Cheryll M.

Peanut butter, honey, and cinnamon on whole grain toast. Sooooo good! ~ Cheryl G.

 

Sources

  1. http://eol.org/pages/490672/overview
  2. http://www.womenshealthmag.com/nutrition/cinnamon-benefits-explained
  3. Prescription for Nutritional Healing
  4. http://www.lifewith4boys.com/2013/01/paleo-savory-cinnamon-slow-cooker.html

 

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