Spice for a Healthy Life

[Written by Peter Nielsen].

Ginger has long been used in traditional American cooking, from the wild ginger native Americans added to pumpkin and corn pudding to gingerbread, gingersnaps and Detroit’s famous ginger ale. Ginger can also be found in a wide array of other national cuisines, Thai, Chinese, Lebanese, Moroccan, Italian and many, many more! The great thing about ginger is it not only can serve many purposes as a spice, it has many health benefits.

Traditional Chinese, eastern Indian and native American health practices have used ginger extensively for the treatment of nausea, motion sickness, colds, joint pain, and circulatory problems. Indian Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine use ginger as a warming and stimulating herb to the body’s temperature, thus helping fight infection. Folk medicine has long prescribed ginger to promote circulation and act as a stimulant. Recent interest in Western scientific research has substantiated many of the traditional applications for this root. Gingerol, the active part of fresh ginger, is related to capsaicin and piperine, the compounds that give chili and black pepper their spicy flavor, and are also the active medicinal components in ginger. They contain powerful anti-inflammatory compounds, which some studies have indicated relieve the pain of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. An animal study at the University of Minnesota suggests that gingerols may even inhibit the growth of colorectal cancer cells.  The number of health benefits that is stunning:

  • Cancer Treatment and Prevention: A preliminary study conducted at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center indicates that an application of ginger powder induces cell death in all ovarian cancer cells, while research at  the University of Minnesota’s Hormel Institute found that gingerol prevented mice from developing colorectal carcinomas when compared to a control group
  • Morning Sickness Relief: A review of several studies has concluded that ginger is just as effective as vitamin B6 in the treatment of morning sickness.   A review of six controlled trials with a total of 675 participants confirmed that ginger is effective in relieving the severity of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.  Ginger is also safe, without significant side effects, and only a small dose is required.
  • Motion Sickness Prevention: Recent studies have indicated that ginger is highly effective in preventing the symptoms of motion sickness, reducing symptoms associated with motion sickness including dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and cold sweating.
  • Reduction of Pain and Inflammation: Another study showed that ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and is a powerful natural painkiller. These anti-inflammatory properties of gingerol are believed to explain why so many people with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis experience reductions in their pain levels and improvements in their mobility when they consume ginger regularly. Two clinical studies involving patients who responded to conventional drugs and those who didn’t, found that 75% of arthritis patients and 100% of patients with muscular discomfort experienced relief of pain and/or swelling.
  • Heartburn Relief: The anti-inflammatory properties of ginger minimize stomach acid, offering natural heartburn relief.
  • Cold and Flu Prevention and Treatment: Ginger can help promote healthy sweating, which is important for detoxification. As an anti-inflammatory, it also offers relief to sufferers of stomach flu.
  • Prevention of Diabetic Kidney Failure: A recent study of diabetic rats found that rats given ginger had a reduced incidence of nephropathy, or diabetic kidney damage. Additional findings included heightened antioxidant capacity in the ginger-supplemented rats.

Ginger is in season from March through September, and is sold in the produce section of markets. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three weeks if left unpeeled.  Stored unpeeled in the freezer, it will keep for up to six months. Dried ginger powder should be kept in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dark and dry place.  This is all good news, but don’t forget, always check with your physician before undertaking any new nutritional or fitness regimen.

Add a little spice to your life … it’s really good for you!

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Roots

[Written by Peter Nielsen].

The winter holiday season is over, and we’re all settling down into our normal winter diets. Though we may miss the fresh, clean flavors of fresh fruits and vegetables, the comforting, substantial richness of root vegetables are perfect for January through March weather! Root vegetables are full of fiber, rich in minerals and nutrients from the soil and low in calories. Research also shows that winter favorites such as beets, carrots, parsnips and turnips contain cancer fighting substances called phytochemicals and are rich in vitamins and nutrients to help boost resistance to other health problems. Root vegetables come with short and long term benefits!

  • Boost your energy stores! A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that drinking two cups of beet juice a day for 6 days, participants could cycle 16 percent longer than those who drank a placebo. That beet juice also contains a color pigment called betalain, which has strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, fungicidal and detoxification properties.
  • Lower cancer risks! New research indicates that the betalain in that beet juice may also spur anti-cancer activity, while a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that carrots reduced the likelihood of developing full-scale tumors by one-third in laboratory rats compared to those who were not fed carrots.
  • Get your folate. Root vegetables are an excellent source of folate. Parsnips, with their nutty flavor, contain almost twice as much folate as carrots. Folate is vital for normal nerve functioning, and helps support cell production, prevent anemia and and contributes to healthier bones. Studies indicate that it helps lower the risk of dementia and depression.
  • Raise your iron absorption. Root vegetables are high in the powerful antioxidant, vitamin C, which help the body absorb iron and helps build bones and cartilage.
  • Beta boosters! Carrots, yams, beets and turnips are all excellent sources of betacarotenes, which the body converts into vitamin A. Important for vision and bone growth, betacarotene also helps regulate the body’s immune system.

Last but not least, the high amounts of nutrients and soluble fiber in root vegetables will keep you satisfied longer. Root vegetables – a healthy, tasty way to help lose those holiday pounds!

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Keep Your Cholesterol Healthy

[Written by Peter Nielsen].

Approximately one in every six adults—17% of the U.S. adult population—has high blood cholesterol! We’re also seeing a sharp rise in children with high cholesterol. This is a dangerous condition, and it comes with a sharp increase of risk for heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. It’s important to know that high cholesterol often can be reduced through regular exercise and a healthy diet.

Add these items to your menu to help lower your cholesterol levels.

  • The fiber in oatmeal mixes with cholesterol in the small intestine and attaches to the cholesterol molecule, helping to flush them from the body.
  • Eating fatty fish can help lower your blood pressure tthe high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two servings of fish a week.
  • Pinto beans may actually be more efficient than oatmeal when it comes to lowering cholesterol. A study from the University of Colorado found that eating a half-cup of pinto beans a day for eight weeks resulted in an average drop of total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol of more than 8 percent, while eating half-cup of oatmeal will reduce cholesterol 2 percent to 3 percent!
  • Garlic can prevents plaque from clogging your arteries by keeping cholesterol particles from sticking to artery walls. Fresh garlic is best.
  • Studies show that macadamia nuts and other nuts are helpful in the fight against bad cholesterol. In one study published in the April, 2008, researchers reported that 1.5 ounces of macadamia nuts eaten daily reduced total cholesterol by 9.4 percent and low-density lipoprotein by 8.9 percent. Walnuts are also excellent for reducing cholesterol levels.

Along with lowering the ‘bad cholesterol’ you want to be sure your ‘good cholesterol’ gets a boost:

  • Foods that are high in soluble fiber, such as flax seed, apples, and oranges will help keep HDL levels at a healthy level.
  • Fatty fish not only lower LDL levels, it helps raise HDL levels!
  • Cranberry juice has been shown to increase HDL levels.
  • Monounsaturated fats such as canola oil, avocado oil, or olive oil and in the fats found in peanut butter can increase HDL cholesterol levels without increasing the total cholesterol.
  • Aerobic exercise has been shown to have a highly beneficial effect on HDL.

The only way to know if you have high cholesterol is through testing. However, the following factors raise your risks of high cholesterol. If any of them describe you, and you haven’t been tested, see your doctor!

  • Lack of exercise)
  • Poor  diet
  • Smoking
  • Specific medications
  • Age
  • Family history of high cholesterol
  • Weight – even a few extra pounds can increase your cholesterol

The American Heart Association states that high cholesterol levels can result in heart attacks, strokes and other preventable diseases. So take control and give yourself a longer, healthier life!

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The Dark Side of Sodas

[Written by Peter Nielsen].

You may or may not drink cola or sodas, but you undoubtedly have a dear friend or family member who does! We’ve heard over and over again that sodas are an important factor in obesity, which is a huge cause for concern in it’s own right. Recent developments show that obesity is just the tip of the iceberg, and many more serious issues linked to soda consumption lie below the surface.

In news this week of was the story a 31 year old woman from Monaco who was hospitalized after fainting. Blood tests indicated that she had severely low potassium levels, further tests of her heart’s electrical activity revealed she had a condition called long QT syndrome, which can cause erratic heart beats. She told her doctors that since the age of 15, she had not drunk any water, just cola — about 2 liters daily! Doctors recommended she abstain from soda, which she did and after just one week, the woman’s potassium levels and heart electrical activity returned to normal. The case was presented this week at the European Heart Rhythm Association meeting in Athens, Greece.

Researchers also found six reports of excessive cola consumption that are thought to be causative factors in serious medical problems, including heart rhythm problems. Additional studies will examine whether those who drink cola excessively have lower potassium levels than people who don’t drink cola.

Admittedly, this is an extreme case. However there are more issues associated with soda drinking than the news of possible heart problems caused by cola and other soft drinks — a lot more!

• Drinking too much cola may cause excess water to enter the bowels, which in turn leads to diarrhea, and loss of potassium, the researchers said. High amounts of caffeine found in colas can increase urine production and decrease potassium reabsorption. Potassium plays a role in helping a person’s heartbeat, and low levels of potassium may cause heart rhythm problems

• In one experiment, the sugar from one soft drink damaged white blood cells ability to ingest and kill gonococcal bacteria for seven hours.

• Sodas contain large quantities of phosphorus which, as mentioned above, leeches calcium from the bones when excreted. Heavy users of soft drinks will suffer from osteoporosis along and damaged arteries.”

• The Naval Medical Research Institute put human teeth in a cola beverage and found they softened and started to dissolve within a short period of time.

• One liter of an aspartame-sweetened beverage can produce about fifty-six milligrams of methanol. If someone drinks several sodas in a a single day, the amount of methanol produced is 32 times the EPA limit.

• Continuously high levels of sodium in the diet and the bloodstream causes a type of acute hypernatremia — an electrolyte disturbance that is defined by an elevated sodium level in the blood generally caused by a relative deficit of free water in the body — which keeps our sodium potassium pump slightly dysregulated and throws off the electrical system of the brain.

• It’s also important to note that aspartame, found in diet sodas, contains methyl or wood alcohol, which can affect fetal brain development.

What could be more important for your health if you’re a regular soda drinker than to quit the habit!

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Some Nutty News

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
There’s another reason to add walnuts to your diet! New research from the Harvard School of Public Health indicates that walnuts may reduce the risk for Type 2 diabetes in women.
 
The study, published in The Journal of Nutrition, included 138,000 nurses between the ages of 35 and 77 as part of a large, ongoing research of women’s health. As part of this study, scientists gathered information on walnut consumption by participants for 10 years starting in 1999. They found that women who ate walnuts tend to weigh less, eat more fish and work out more than those who did not. Because of this, the researchers made allowances for for body fat and weight. They found that eating walnuts one to three times a month lowered the risk of developing type-2 diabetes by 4%. Eating them once a week dropped the risk by 13%, while participants who ate them at least twice a week reduced the risk of developing type-2 diabetes by 24%!
 
This research further boosts walnut’s reputation as an important addition to healthy diets.
 
• The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease published a study that showed that eating walnuts as part of a Mediterranean diet protects against brain functioning decline that can occur with aging. Findings indicated that walnuts were linked to improved memory in the study participants, while other kinds of nuts were not.
 
• A study at the conducted at Marshall University School of Medicine in West Virginia found that eating about 28 walnut halves a day provides may help reduce the risk of breast cancer. Mice were fed a daily diet that included the human equivalent of two ounces of walnuts. Walnut eaters had significantly decreased breast tumor incidence and a slower rate of tumor growth than mice that were fed a control diet.
 
• A study by researchers from the University of Scranton found that walnuts have more antioxidants than other nuts like cashews, hazelnuts, pecans and pistachios.
 
• Walnuts are rich in omega-3s, making them beneficial in reducing depression, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and cancer. Strong evidence also exists that omega-3s can protect against inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease.
 
• Research published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that walnuts and walnut oil lowered both resting blood pressure and blood pressure responses to stress, indicating that a dietary change could help our bodies better respond to stress.
 
Other nuts are healthy, and you should include them in your diet. However it’s interesting to note that study from the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania found that walnuts have higher quality antioxidants and a mix of more healthful antioxidants than any other nut … walnuts, they really are all they’re cracked up to be!
 
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Gluten Facts

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
Gluten-free products are showing up on grocery shelves everywhere and more and more people are tweaking their diets to reduce their gluten intake. However, many people have never heard of gluten allergies or gluten allergies. Gluten makes up 20 percent of global calorie intake and is a basic staple in many diets. It is found in wheat and other grains like rye, barley, and spelt. While you never go to the store to but a pound of it, it’s gluten that gives certain foods a great, chewy texture, helps dough to rise and is a vital ingredient in most your backed goods .
 
While gluten is a protein that can cause serious problems for some people, it’s very difficult to avoid. Not only is gluten the primary protein found in some grains, it shows up in unexpected places! You’ll find it in various brands of chocolate, imitation crab, soy sauce, certain vitamin brands and even some toothpaste! Gluten is also difficult to digest completely. One out of thirteen people have celiac disease; for them gluten can be a matter of life or death. Celiac disease sufferers are so sensitive to gluten that even a very small amount can cause serious illness, gluten damages the lining of their small intestines and can lead to a variety of health problems ranging from chronic diarrhea and abdominal cramping to osteoporosis. For them, being aware of the hidden gluten in products is a constant struggle.
 
You may not have celiac disease, but you can still be gluten-sensitive. If so, you should cut back on your gluten intake. There has been a significant increase in our gluten intake over the past 50 years and we are just beginning to understand the impact rise has on our health. How do you know if you’re gluten-sensitive? Eating foods with gluten triggers different symptoms, the most common are:
 
• stomach pains
• bloating
• heartburn
• joint pains
• headache
• skin rashes
• fatigue
• insomnia
• brain fog
 
If you are gluten-sensitive, it probably won’t require giving up gluten entirely. There are many gluten-free product to replace items in your current diet, such as crackers and pasta, and a gluten-free diet may not be that difficult, particularly if you’re already eating a mediterranean diet. Fill your plate vegetables and fruits, lean meats, fish and poultry, brown rice and quinoa, nuts and seeds, beans and other legumes, and healthy fats, like extra-virgin olive oil and canola oil.
 
If your symptoms are severe, be tested for celiac disease. Diagnostic tests for celiac become unreliable if you are not eating gluten. It’s a test worth taking … the results could transform your health!
 
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Healthy and Glowing

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
Beautiful, healthy skin projects fitness and youth. You can attain and keep that healthy glow with a nutritious, balanced diet. In fact, a healthy diet is absolutely essential to achieving glowing skin, because it allows your skin to heal, combats aging, and prevents inflammations. Adopt a nutritional regimen with the right types of protein, carbohydrates and fat, fruit and vegetables, and plenty of water, you’ll notice an improvement in the condition of your skin in just a few days.
 
• Here are a few guidelines that will help you on your way to a glowing complexion!
• Eat protein to repair skin cells. Good sources are turkey, fish, boneless skinless chicken, egg whites. If your a vegetarian go for sprouts, seeds, cheese, peas, grains, nuts, milk and soy bean!
• Eat fatty fish to boost the condition of cell membranes, the building blocks of healthy skin.
• Almonds, olive oil and rapeseed oil are high in antioxidant-rich monounsaturated fat to aid in rejuvenating skin cells.
• Keep your skin hydrated by drinking at least eight glasses of water a day.
• Vitamins A and B, found in milk, yogurt and oily fish, are essential for maintained glowing skin.
• The vitamin C in citrus fruits, berries, broccoli and cabbage provides collagen to heals your skin and keeps it firm.
• Vitamin E promotes healing and prevents dry skin and the formation of age spots. Foods rich in vitamin E include wheat germ, whole grains, leafy greens, nuts and seeds, olives and vegetable oils.
 
If you’re concerned about your skin becoming lax, remember, deeply colored fruits and dark, leafy greens have a higher concentration of skin-tightening and healing nutrients. Dark leafy greens such as kale renew your skin so that it actually looks and feels tighter, while lentils, beans and other legumes can prevent damage to your skin and make you look younger.
 
To maintain your healthy glow, don’t smoke, wear sunscreen during the day, and stay out of the sun during the afternoon.
 
Follow these nutrition tips, protect against sun damage, sleep well and you’ll have healthier, glowing skin in a week … and it just gets better!
 
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Have a Happy, Healthy Christmas

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
Holiday gatherings, seasonal treats, and celebratory menus can wreak havoc a healthy nutrition regimen for even the most dedicated dieter. Last week we listed several pointers to avoid stress while preparing for your celebrations. Finally, it’s time enjoy the holiday! Remember, one meal or one day of celebration is not going to doom you to obesity when if you ‘fall off the wagon’ when you eat healthy foods and exercise the rest of the year. Allow yourself enough latitude to enjoy the day and get back to work the next day with these helpful hints.
 
• Eat breakfast! Skipping breakfast sets you up for overeating later in the day!
 
• Plan. If you’ve reached your tipping point and have decided to lose, target for a 1 pound loss during the next week. Reduce your daily calorie intake by 200 to 300 calories and burn off 200 to 300 calories a day for a weekly deficit of 3,500 calorie. Add an extra day to your exercise routine. Don’t have routine? Walk for fifteen minutes a day!
 
• Start a food diary. Research proves that keeping a food diary is a valuable weight loss technique. Start again to track what you’re eating and how much, it’s a real eye-opener!
 
• Control snacking. Drink a glass of water instead of reaching for the left over Christmas cookies, then wait about 10 minutes to see if you are really hungry. Thirst can be mistaken for hunger, if you’re still hungry, have a small, healthy snack.
 
• Don’t skip meals. Research has shown that eating regular meals or snacks every 3 to 4 hours can keep you from overeating.
 
• Stay active. If you didn’t get any exercise today, relieve that belly bloat by going for a 10-minute walk after eating.
 
• Get enough sleep. Research shows there are links between inadequate sleep and obesity. A study from Case Western Reserve University of about 68,000 middle-age women found that those who slept 5 or fewer hours were 32% more likely to experience major weight gain, and 15% more likely to become obese, than those who slept an average of 7 hours.
 
• Eat slowly to make your meal last longer. Research shows the more chewing you do, the more nutrients your body absorbs. It takes 20 minutes for the body to register that it’s satisfied, slower eating will cut down on the second helpings!
 
Leave the guilt behind. It will only get in your way, and make it harder to get back on track!
 
Happy Holidays to you and all your loved ones!
 
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Winter Roots

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
The humble beet, often used as a colorful garnish on the table, is a terrific source of nutrients for your winter diet. Rich in natural sugar, sodium, sulphur, chlorine, iodine, copper, it’s also a terrific source of vitamins B1, B2, C and bioflavonoids. This tasteful root vegetable’s health benefits have been known for generations. A fibrous root, it’s also an excellent source of bulk fiber, and the fresh beet offers all this for 30-58 calories per cup! Are you interested yet? The beet is also high in folic acid, potassium, calcium and antioxidants, and that’s just the beet roots, the leafy beet greens can also be used for juicing, or cooking as you would any other green. In fact the beet greens contain significantly more iron, vitamin A, potassium and calcium than the roots!
 
Beets are not only delicious, they offer excellent health benefits:
 
• Detoxification – The Encyclopedia of Healing Juices states that the beet is a blood-building herb. It detoxifies blood and renews it with minerals and natural sugars.
 
• Fighting Cancer – Early research in Hungary indicated that beet juice slows the development of tumors. It’s thought that betaine, an amino acid in beet root, has significant anti-cancer properties. Studies show that beet juice inhibits formation of cancer-causing compounds and is protective against colon and stomach cancer.
 
• Blood Building – The high content of iron in beets regenerates and reactivates the red blood cells and supplies fresh oxygen to the body, while the copper content in assists in iron absorption, helping in the fight against anemia.
 
• Lowering Cholesterol – Beets help to keep bad cholesterol at bay. Studies show that eating beets on a regular basis can lower LDL cholesterol by as much as 30 percent.
 
• Regulating Blood Pressure – In a British study of 14 healthy volunteers, half drank 2 cups beet juice and half drank 2 cups of water within 30 minutes. Their blood pressure was checked every 15 minutes for one hour before and every 15 minutes for three hours after drinking the beet juice. They were also checked every hour for six hours with a final check at 24 hours after drinking the juice. The results were amazing! Compared with the water drinkers, blood pressure dropped one hour after the volunteers drank the beet juice. It reached its lowest point 2-1/2 to 3 hours after ingestion and continued to have an effect for up to 24 hours.
 
Roasted, boiled or juiced, beets are great winter superfood!
 
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Spreading Holiday Health!

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
Are you taking a dish to a holiday a holiday potluck? Having friends over? Share the gift of healthy food for your friends and loved ones! Whether making your traditional seasonal treats or experimenting with new and adventurous dishes, you can create a great, even indulgent holiday spread while protecting against growing waistlines and rising cholesterol levels.
 
Try some new ideas for the healthiest holiday foods to add to your table!
 
• Roasted Brussels Sprouts: Brussels sprouts have come roaring in from the culinary cold! Sweet and piquant, brussel sprouts are as tasty roasted as they are simple to prepare with an added nutty flavor. Simply toss with olive oil, a touch of garlic and salt, then roast until crisp on the outside. Easy to prepare, tasty and packed with nutrients, roasted Brussels sprouts are an extremely healthy dietary choice.
 
• Collard Greens: Collards offer exceptional nutritional value with low caloric overhead and are a popular dish on any dinner tabl. Sadly, the traditional method of cooking greens with fat-back or bacon overwhelms the benefits of this great veggie. If you crave the flavor of traditional collards without the cholesterol-causing bacon or fatback, try using smoked turkey wings and a drizzle of olive oil!
 
• Green Beans: One of America’s favorite vegetables, green beans are one of the healthiest holiday foods. They are an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin K (important for bone health) and manganese. They’re generous in vitamin A, dietary fiber, potassium, folate, and iron. Unfortunately, that yummy green bean casserole served with traditional holiday meal is high in calories due to the butter, cream of mushroom soup and cheese. Try tossing with sauteed fresh garlic and top with toasted almond slivers. It’s your next, healthy holiday favorite!
 
• Pecans: Sprinkle pecans over salads with dried cranberries or cherries, or gently roast for a pre-meal snack. Pecans are a great source of vitamin E and magnesium. They’re also packed with fiber, protein, and the same “good” fats that are found in olive oil.
 
• Winter Squash: If winter squash isn’t a staple in your winter nutritional regimen, it should be! Try an apple and squash casserole as a tasty and healthy replacement for mashed potatoes. Pumpkin empanadas with whole wheat crust are a great appetizer that will disappear off your buffet table as fast as you get them there!
 
It’s the rich desserts and cookies that will really catch you, but there’s plenty of ways to make those holiday favorites healthier while retaining the flavor.
 
• Use whole grains like oatmeal, dried fruits and nuts in holiday cookies and breads.
 
• Make a low-fat ricotta cheesecake!
 
• When baking gingerbread and deep-hued cakes and cookies, replace half the flour with whole-wheat flour to increase the fiber, they will fill you up quicker and make you feel full longer.
 
• Try using an egg substitute to cut cholesterol.
 
• Add the simple elegance of baked, poached or roasted fall fruits to the dessert menu. Making tarts? Reduce the amount of sugar and let the fruit flavor shine! Decorate with some fresh mint leaves and cranberries for that seasonal touch!
 
Let you creativity shine through! You’ll not only share a loving feast made with the well-being of your guests in mind … you may create a new holiday tradition to share for years and years!
 
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