PUMPKIN AND APRICOT CINNAMON ROLLS

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cup dried apricots, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup pumpkin purée
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
  • 1 (0.25-ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 4 cups whole wheat pastry flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/4 cup oat bran
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup unsweetened plain almondmilk, warmed
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  • Honey, for drizzling (optional)
Method:
Combine apricots and 1 cup water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 10 minutes. Working over a small bowl, drain apricots well, reserving soaking liquid. (You should have 1/2 cup. Adjust the amount accordingly by discarding some, or adding more warm water.) Transfer apricots to a food processor, add pumpkin and 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon and purée until almost smooth. Cover and refrigerate until chilled.

When soaking liquid is lukewarm (105° to 110°F), sprinkle yeast over the top and let sit until a bubbly foams forms, about 5 minutes. In a large bowl, stir together flour, oat bran, salt and remaining 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Add yeast mixture and almondmilk and stir to form a shaggy dough. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Dust the inside of a large bowl with flour and place dough in the bowl. Cover and let sit in a warm spot until dough is doubled in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. On a floured surface, roll out dough into a 14×18-inch rectangle. Spread pumpkin mixture evenly over dough and sprinkle with pecans. Roll up snugly to form an 18-inch log, seam side down. Cut into 24 equal slices, trimming off the end pieces, if you like. Arrange on the prepared baking sheet and let rest in a warm spot. Position the baking rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Bake until rolls are puffed and golden brown, about 25 minutes. Drizzle with honey (if using) and serve warm.

Recipe Source: Whole Foods

White Chocolate Holiday Bark

  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut
  • 1 cup oven-toasted rice cereal
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 1/2 pounds good-quality white chocolate, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 325°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and set aside.

Spread the sliced almonds and the unsweetened coconut in an even layer on the baking sheet. Toast 5–8 minutes or until coconut just begins to brown. Remove baking sheet from the oven, and let cool.

In a large bowl, combine almonds, coconut, rice cereal, and dried cranberries. Reserve about 1/4 cup of the mixture, and set aside.

Place chopped white chocolate and 2 teaspoons vegetable oil in a large heatproof bowl, and set over a medium saucepan of simmering water. Stir with a spatula until the chocolate is completely melted.

Recipe Source: Health

As the end of the year approaches, it’s likely there are multiple meals and parties in your future. Carrying food from one location to another and sharing dishes with a crowd means more opportunity for bacteria to grow and cause food poisoning. Whether you’re an experienced cook, a first-time party host, or simply adding a dish to the potluck lineup, the holidays can make even the most confident chefs nervous.

Follow these steps to keep your holiday season food poisoning-free.

 

 

Steps to follow during holiday grocery shopping:

  • Keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood away from other foods in your grocery cart.
  • Buy cold foods last.
  • Ask the cashier to place your raw meat, poultry and seafood in a separate bag.

Steps to follow during food preparation:

  • Use separate cutting boards for raw meat and ready-to-eat items like vegetables or bread.
  • Prepare uncooked recipes before recipes requiring raw meat to reduce cross-contamination. Store them out of the way while preparing meat dishes to ensure they don’t become contaminated after preparation.
  • Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of dishes to ensure they are fully cooked and safe to eat. Fresh beef, pork, veal, and lamb should be cooked to 145 ˚F with a three minute rest time; fish should be cooked to 145 ˚F; ground beef, veal and lamb should be cooked to 160 ˚F; egg dishes should be cooked to 160 ˚F; and all poultry should be cooked to 165 ˚F.

Fool proof tips when cooking for groups:

  • Keep hot food hot and cold food cold, using chafing dishes or crock pots and ice trays. Hot items should remain above 140 ˚F and cold items should remain below 40 ˚F.
  • Use several small plates when serving food.
  • Discard perishable foods left out for 2 hours or more.

Steps to follow when cooking a holiday roast:

  • Use separate cutting boards, plates and utensils for raw roasts and cooked roasts to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Wash items such as cutting boards that have touched raw meat with warm water and soap, or place them in a dishwasher.
  • To ensure the juiciest possible roast this holiday, use a meat thermometer. Once it has reached the USDA recommended internal temperature of 145 F, the roast is safe to eat.
  • Remember all cuts of pork, beef, veal, and lamb need a three minute rest time before cutting or consuming.

Source: www.foodsafety.gov

Did you know that yoga has been around for more than 5,000 years? Today, you see lots of super stars and athletes practicing yoga, but it’s a great activity for anyone! No matter what other activities you participate in, yoga can strengthen your abilities by increasing flexibility, staying power (endurance), and your ability to focus.

Lots of physical activities build your muscles and strength, but many times other parts of your body are left out. Because yoga is a full body workout, it can help to check any imbalance in your muscles.

In addition, yoga strengthens, tones, and stretches your muscles, helping to increase your flexibility. If your body is flexible you will be less likely to get injured.

Most yoga practices focus on physical postures called “asanas,” breathing exercises called “pranayama,” and meditation to bring your body and mind together through slow, careful movements. But, there’s more to it than that! Yoga leads to improved physical fitness, increased ability to concentrate, and decreased stress. Yoga is an activity that helps both your body and mind work a little better.

When to Practice
Yoga can fit easily into your schedule—taking 10-15 minutes each day to practice can make a difference (just make sure to wait at least two to three hours after you’ve eaten!). Yoga is a perfect way to chill out and take some time just for yourself! So, set aside a special time each day and relax, release, and rejuvenate!

Where to Practice
Find a quiet spot where you won’t be distracted. Look for a level area that is large enough for you to stretch upwards as well as to the sides for standing and floor positions or stretches.

How to Practice
Always warm up! Plan a well-rounded workout that includes lots of different positions from all of the major muscle groups (arms, legs, abs, back, chest). Most importantly, remember to breathe! It’s a good idea to start with several arm stretches over your head and deep breaths. Inhale when you try upward and expanded movements, and exhale during downward or forward bending motions.

Concentrate on each position—move slowly making controlled movements until you feel your muscles tensing and resisting (you should feel your muscles stretching, not straining). Each pose in yoga is an experiment, so go slowly and listen to your body. Know when you are pushing yourself too hard or need to challenge yourself a little more.

Last but not least, remember to take 5-10 minutes to relax your body at the end of your workout. This will help to prevent sore muscles and is a way to unwind your body.

Another great thing about yoga is that you can participate in a group class, and/or you can practice at home with a DVD.

 

 

Brighten the holidays by making your health and safety a priority. Take steps to keep you and your loved ones safe and healthy—and ready to enjoy the holidays.

  1. Wash hands often to help prevent the spread of germs. It’s flu season. Wash your hands with soap and clean running water for at least 20 seconds.
  2. Bundle up to stay dry and warm. Wear appropriate outdoor clothing: light, warm layers, gloves, hats, scarves, and waterproof boots.
  3. Manage stress. Give yourself a break if you feel stressed out, overwhelmed, and out of control. Some of the best ways to manage stress are to find support, connect socially, and get plenty of sleep.
  4. Don’t drink and drive or let others drink and drive. Whenever anyone drives drunk, they put everyone on the road in danger. Choose not to drink and drive and help others do the same.
  5. Be smoke-free. Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke. Smokers have greater health risks because of their tobacco use, but nonsmokers also are at risk when exposed to tobacco smoke.
  6. Fasten seat belts while driving or riding in a motor vehicle. Always buckle your children in the car using a child safety seat, booster seat, or seat belt according to their height, weight, and age. Buckle up every time, no matter how short the trip and encourage passengers to do the same.
  7. Get exams and screenings. Ask your health care provider what exams you need and when to get them. Update your personal and family history.
  8. Get your vaccinations. Vaccinations help prevent diseases and save lives. Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine each year.
  9. Monitor children. Keep potentially dangerous toys, food, drinks, household items, and other objects out of children’s reach. Protect them from drowning, burns, falls, and other potential accidents.
  10. Practice fire safety. Most residential fires occur during the winter months, so don’t leave fireplaces, space heaters, food cooking on stoves, or candles unattended. Have an emergency plan and practice it regularly.
  11. Prepare food safely. Remember these simple steps: Wash hands and surfaces often, avoid cross-contamination, cook foods to proper temperatures and refrigerate foods promptly.
  12. Eat healthy, stay active. Eat fruits and vegetables which pack nutrients and help lower the risk for certain diseases. Limit your portion sizes and foods high in fat, salt, and sugar. Also, be active for at least 2½ hours a week and help kids and teens be active for at least 1 hour a day.

Source: www.cdc.gov