(Family Features) Named for the earthy, exotic fungi they resemble, chocolate truffles require no hunting, digging or specially trained dogs and they won’t break the budget either. Real white truffles from Italy can set back the pocketbook more than $1000 for just one pound. Of course, chocolate truffles are a visual imitation only; they are sweet, addictive, and a great way to turn some organic chocolate, cream and butter into a decadent treat.
These ultra creamy truffles are made in the tradition of the Swiss style of chocolate truffle using heavy cream and butter to create what is called a ganache – a lovely French word for a mixture of chocolate and cream. According to Monique Hooker, Organic Valley’s French-born Chef, “using the best quality, organic cream and butter makes a difference.”
This recipe is so easy that kids can help and it is open to many variations. One option is to infuse the cream with some rich, floral Organic Madagascar vanilla extract, or split a whole vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the cream as it simmers. Or, try using white chocolate, and roll the balls in finely minced sweetened coconut. For decoration, top each truffle with a small piece of roasted nut such as pistachio or pecan, a tiny candy, or if serving immediately, add one perfect raspberry to each truffle. Serve for parties, birthdays, or any occasion that needs a little chocolate.
For more dessert recipes using organic cream and butter, visit www.organicvalley.coop.
Easy Decadent Chocolate Truffles
Makes 25 truffles
- 1/2 cup Organic Valley heavy whipping cream
- 12 oz best quality semisweet chocolate (preferably Fair Trade and Organic) chopped into small pieces, or 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
- 6 tablespoons Organic Valley unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
- In a small heavy saucepan, bring the cream gently to a simmer over medium low heat. Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate and butter. Stir mixture just until the chocolate has completely melted, using very low heat if necessary. Remove from heat. Pour the chocolate mixture into a shallow bowl, and allow to cool. Cover tightly and refrigerate until firm, at least two hours or overnight.
- Line a cookie sheet or platter with baking parchment or waxed paper. Dip a teaspoon or small scoop such as a melon baller into warm water and scrape across the surface of the truffle mixture to form a 1-inch ball. Quickly roll balls in cocoa powder. Repeat with the remaining truffle mixture. Cover and refrigerate truffles. Serve in paper candy cups which are available in cookware shops or where cake decorating items are sold.
Variations: For a variety of truffles, roll balls in finely chopped nuts, finely minced sweetened coconut flakes, chocolate sprinkles, colored sugar or powdered sugar.
Tips: Truffles make a wonderful gift. Nothing says “I Love You” better than chocolate. Wrap a selection of truffles on a small red paper plate with cellophane and tie with a ribbon.
Source: Organic Valley
Helping kids learn to love healthy eating
(Family Features) According to the 2007 Produce For Kids study, 96 percent of children don’t get the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. That won’t surprise a lot of parents. Getting children to eat any fruits or vegetables at all can be a big challenge. With 39 percent of all U.S. children overweight or obese, getting kids to make better food choices is more important than ever.
Fruits and vegetables are loaded with vitamins, nutrients and fiber, are low in calories and can help prevent many diseases, including high blood pressure, heart disease and some cancers. But kids aren’t compelled by the nutritional benefits of produce. They want to have fun eating food they like. So they need some help to become healthy eaters.
How can a parent get fruit-phobic or veggie-avoiding kids to eat more of what they really need? Mypyramid.gov, a Web site dedicated to helping people make smart food choices, has some tips for coping with picky eaters.
- Let your kids be “produce pickers.” Let them help pick out fruits and veggies at the store.
- Kids like to try foods they help make. All of that mixing, mashing and measuring makes them want to taste what they are creating.
- Make meals a stress-free time. If meals are times for family arguments, your child may learn unhealthy attitudes toward food.
- Offer choices. Rather than ask “Do you want broccoli for dinner?” ask “Which would you like for dinner: broccoli or cauliflower?”
Another suggestion, from The Produce For Kids study, is to use dips to get kids to eat more fruits and vegetables. Sixty-eight percent of the moms surveyed said that their children ate more fruit and vegetables when they were served with dip.
One of the latest items on the market to help meet this need is Marzetti Dip Snack Packs, a line of fruit and veggie dips for children that makes eating produce fun and nutritious. Each portion-control package contains the right amount of dip for a serving of fruit or vegetables.
Turn the frowns upside down
Do your kids turn up their noses at fruits and veggies? Here are some fun and smart ideas to please even the pickiest of eaters:
- Bagel snake ― Split mini bagels in half. Cut each half into half circles. Spread the halves with tuna salad, egg salad, or peanut butter. Decorate with sliced cherry tomatoes or banana slices. Arrange the half circles to form the body of a snake. Use olives or raisins for the eyes.
- English muffin pizza ― Top half an English muffin with tomato sauce, chopped veggies and low-fat mozzarella cheese. Heat until the cheese is melted.
- Potato pal ― Top half a small baked potato with eyes, ears, and a smile. Try peas for eyes, a halved cherry tomato for a nose, and a low-fat cheese wedge as a smile.
- Fruit smoothies ― Blend fresh or frozen fruit with yogurt and milk or juice. Try 100 percent orange juice, low-fat yogurt, and frozen strawberries.
- Ants on a log ― Thinly spread peanut butter or apple dip on narrow celery sticks. Top with a row of raisins or other diced dried fruit.
- Fruit kabobs – Spear chunks of pineapple, banana and melon on skewers or chopsticks. Let kids dunk them in a fruit dip.
Picky eaters don’t have to stay picky eaters. With some encouragement and creative ideas from parents, they can learn to love eating what’s best for them.
For more information, visit marzetti.com.
Turn PB & J into PB & A — peanut butter and apples! This lunchtime treat is a great way to please picky sandwich eaters and make sure they get some healthy fruit.
Open Face Caramel Peanut Butter Sandwich
Prep Time: 5 minutes
- 2 tablespoons Marzetti Caramel Apple Dip
- 2 tablespoons favorite peanut butter
- 2 slices favorite bread
- Sliced apples, peanuts, dried cranberries or raisins
- In a small bowl, mix together dip and peanut butter until smooth.
- Spread two tablespoons of caramel mixture on each slice of bread.
- Arrange sliced apples, peanuts and dried fruit atop each sandwich and serve.
Put some crunchy fun into snack time with this fruity rice cake. This is one treat the kids will love making themselves — just set out the ingredients and let them build a fruit-filled snack!
Rice Cake Snack
Prep Time: 3 minutes
- 2 tablespoons Marzetti Caramel Apple Dip
- 1 rice cake
Topping options: Diced red or green apple, chopped bananas, favorite dried fruit, mini chocolate chips or favorite chopped nuts
Spread 2 tablespoons dip onto a rice cake. Top with one or two topping options and serve.
Want your kids to acquire healthy eating habits? Start them cooking! Taking part in snack and meal preparation encourages children to develop sound food choices and may even persuade a picky eater to try new tastes. Some of the best items for kids to work with can be found at the supermarket deli counter. Boar’s Head, makers of premium deli products, offers an assortment of fine meats and cheeses for young chefs to make some of their favorite treats. Plus Boar’s Head products meet many of a child’s daily nutritional needs.
Pretzel Stick Roll Ups
- 2 slices Boar’s Head Gold Label Swiss Cheese
- 2 slices Boar’s Head Maple Honey Ham
- 1 slice Boar’s Head American Cheese
- 1 slice Boar’s Head Bologna
- Small pretzel sticks (There are a number of varieties available — make sure to select a sturdy kind.)
- On clean work surface (plastic cutting board or plate will do), lay out cheese slices. Place 1 ham slice on each Swiss cheese slice and bologna on American cheese. Starting at one end, roll up each pair of slices and skewer with pretzel stick. (Grownup helper may need to assist small hands with pretzel spearing.)
Yield: 3 roll ups
Source: Boar's Head
Make the Season Simple and Sweet
(Family Features) Nothing says home for the holidays like the smell of treats baking in the oven and a crowded kitchen filled with loved ones. Whether making decades-old family favorites or starting new holiday baking traditions, you can create homemade holiday goodies in a (ginger) snap.
“The holidays are a time when families are in the kitchen at record rates to bake cookies, build gingerbread houses and create a wide variety of sweet treats,” says Nancy Siler, vice president of consumer affairs at Wilton. “The good news is, even if you only have 30 minutes to spare during this hectic time, you can make amazing desserts for gatherings or gifting.”
Try these easy treat ideas from Wilton to spread holiday cheer:
- Holiday Helpers: Invite family and friends for a cookie decorating day to help prepare gifts for upcoming events. You provide the Sparkling Sugars and Sprinkles, Peppermint Twisted Sticks and red and green icing ... everyone else provides the creativity.
- Miracle on Your Street: Crunched for time with a party to attend? Pick up ready-to-eat cookies and artfully dip them in red and green Candy Melts candy for an elegant upgrade. No one has to know how simple it was to create a customized dessert.
- Instant Snowman: Coat peanut butter sandwich cookies in white Candy Melts candy to create instant snowmen. Decorate with hats, scarves and, of course, carrot noses.
- It’s a Wrap: Turn your homemade treats into gourmet gifts. Stock up on holiday-themed gift bags and boxes, colorful tissue paper, ribbons and tags to transform made-from-the-heart goodies into extra special gifts.
For more holiday ideas and inspiration, visit www.wilton.com.
Festive Peppermint Twists
- Dark Cocoa, Light Cocoa, Green or White Candy Melts Candy
- Peppermint Twisted Sticks Candy
- Assorted Holiday Sprinkles, including Holiday Nonpareils, Confetti and Jimmies, Red and Green Colored Sugars
- Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. In Disposable Dipping Container or bowl, separately melt Candy Melts candy in microwave following package instructions.
- Dip peppermint sticks into melted candy; tap stick lightly to smooth surface. Immediately add sprinkles. Set on prepared cookie sheet; chill until set, 5 to 10 minutes.
(Family Features) More than nine in 10 millennial moms think it's important for their kids to learn about where their food comes from, and more than three-quarters of those moms actively do things with their kids to help learn just that, according to recent findings.
Building healthy habits is the top reason moms cite for encouraging more learning when it comes to food, according to research conducted by IPSOS on behalf of Cuties – the sweet little clementines. Even when the weather is colder outside, these tips make it fun for families to learn about where their food comes from and help encourage kids to eat healthy for a lifetime.
- Grocery shop together or go to a farmers market. Many cities now have year-round indoor markets, where together you can select fruits and veggies to try. Often the farmers are there, so you can learn about produce and get ideas for how to prepare unfamiliar items at home.
- Cook with your kids. Find fun recipes that let them explore fresh foods where they can be creative. Find age-appropriate ways to involve them, like stirring or measuring, and encourage them to get hands-on with recipes, such as this fun Flower Salad recipe from registered dietitian Ellie Krieger.
- Explore the story of where some of their favorite foods come from. Kids learn and remember information when it comes in the form of a story. Cuties is giving families the chance to uncover those stories by encouraging them to submit questions using #AskAGrower on Facebook. Actual growers will answer with stories about how this sweet, seedless and easy-to-peel fruit is grown with care by their family of growers. A video series at cutiescitrus.com/our-story also helps bring the stories to life.
“Making learning about food fun is good for the whole family,” Krieger said. “It encourages kids – and parents – to explore new foods and be more connected to where their food comes from. It’s truly a ‘healthy’ conversation to have together.”
Recipe courtesy of Ellie Krieger
- 1 Cuties clementine
- 9-10 thinly sliced strips red bell pepper, cut in 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 grape tomato
- 1 celery stick, cut to 3 inches
- 2 small leaves romaine lettuce
- 1 piece English cucumber, unpeeled, seeded and cut to 1 1/2 inches then thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
- 1/2 teaspoon honey
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- Peel clementine and separate sections almost all the way, leaving attached at the base. Place on plate with base down. Place piece of red bell pepper between each citrus section, and half tomato in center to form flower.
- Place celery and lettuce leaves underneath as stem and leaves. Arrange cucumber slices below to represent grass.
- In small bowl, stir together yogurt, honey and lemon juice.
- Serve dip in dish alongside flower, or in a mound underneath cucumber slices.
Nutritional information per serving: 76 calories; 0.5 g total fat; (0.3 g saturated fat, 0.2 g poly fat); 4 g protein; 15 g carbohydrates; 2 g fiber; 2 mg cholesterol; 21 mg sodium.
(Family Features) Next time you reach for a snack, go for a great-tasting option that delivers on both flavor and nutrition. Sensible snacks can be surprisingly delicious when you choose ingredients wisely.
One pop-ular choice: popcorn. Ideal for between-meal snacking since it satisfies but doesn’t spoil the appetite, popcorn is also the perfect addition to treats such as snack bars and trail mix. The key to smart snacking is finding good-for-you ingredients that make your body healthy and your taste buds happy.
With no artificial additives or preservatives, popcorn is naturally low in fat and calories. The whole grain provides energy-producing complex carbohydrates and contains fiber, providing roughage the body needs in the daily diet.
Find more healthy snack solutions at popcorn.org.
There’s nothing like the taste of freshly popped popcorn and nothing like the disappointment of burnt popcorn. Follow these simple steps and you’ll have perfect popcorn every time.
- Whether on the stove or in the microwave, popcorn will begin popping in a few minutes.
- When the popping begins to slow, listen until you can count two seconds between pops. Remove the pan from heat or bag from microwave.
- Remember to lift the lid or open the bag away from your face to prevent steam burns.
Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Corn
Yield: 10 cups
- 8 cups popped popcorn
- 3 tablespoons melted butter
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup crunchy granola
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 cup walnut halves
- In bowl, toss popcorn with melted butter.
- Combine sugar with cinnamon; sprinkle over popcorn. Toss with granola, raisins and walnuts until combined.
Crispy Crunchy Apple Popcorn
Yield: 7 cups
- 6 cups popped popcorn
- 1 tablespoon butter, melted
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 cups dried apple chips
- Heat oven to 300° F.
- Line 9-by-13-inch baking pan with foil; butter foil. Spread popcorn in pan and drizzle with melted butter; toss popcorn. Sprinkle popcorn with sugar and cinnamon, and toss again.
- Bake 7 minutes.
- Sprinkle apple chips over popcorn and heat an additional 3 minutes.
- Serve warm, or cool to room temperature. Store in airtight container.
Crunchy Popcorn Trail Mix
Yield: 9 cups
- 5 cups popped popcorn
- 3 cups whole-grain oat cereal
- 1/3 cup raisins
- 1/3 cup peanuts (or other nuts)
- 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine
- 6 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- In large, microwavable bowl, stir together popcorn, cereal, raisins, nuts and seeds; set aside.
- In small saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar and corn syrup. Heat until boiling; cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Pour over popcorn mixture, stirring to coat evenly. Microwave 3-4 minutes, stirring and scraping bowl after each minute.
- Spread onto greased cookie sheet; cool.
- Break into pieces and store in airtight container.
Popcorn Granola Snack Bars
Yield: 16 bars
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 1/2 cup honey
- 2/3 cup peanut butter
- 1 cup granola cereal
- 1 cup roasted and salted peanuts
- 3 cups popped popcorn
- Line 8- or 9-inch square baking pan with foil. Spray foil lightly with cooking spray; set aside.
- In large saucepan, heat honey until boiling. Stir in peanut butter until well blended.
- Remove pan from heat and stir in granola, peanuts and popcorn until coated. Press mixture evenly into prepared pan.
- Refrigerate until cool; cut into bars to serve.
Yummy Yogurt Popcorn
Yield: 2 1/2 quarts
- 2 1/2 quarts popped popcorn
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup light corn syrup
- In large bowl, keep popped popcorn warm.
- In 2 1/2-quart saucepan, combine yogurt, brown sugar and corn syrup. Cook and stir over medium heat to hard ball stage (250° F on candy thermometer).
- Pour over popped popcorn, stirring to coat.
Source: The Popcorn Board
(Family Features) What do you reach for around 3 in the afternoon? Something salty? Something crunchy? Something creamy, smooth and sweet? These days, more and more snackers are looking for something wholesome and satisfying to get them through the afternoon.
Here’s one snacking choice you may not have thought of: pudding. When pudding is made right — just the way your grandma used to — it’s made with real ingredients like milk and eggs, cooked slowly until it’s creamy and delicious. While cooking up your own pudding is a fun and satisfying weekend or evening project, when you need a quick afternoon snack, that’s probably not in the cards.
Fortunately, there are still some companies making pudding just the way you would at home, slowly simmered to perfection. This is great news for people who want a smooth and creamy snack they can feel good about. There’s a good reason why simple, comforting pudding was a favorite childhood snack — and is still a wholesome snack choice today.
Simple Ideas for a Delicious Snack
Pudding is perfect straight out of the refrigerator, of course, and all you need to enjoy it is a spoon. But you can make it your own with other ingredients that you probably have right in your kitchen. Take a look at your spice rack: You’ve probably got cinnamon, nutmeg and cayenne pepper. In your pantry, you’ve got crunchy cookies, pretzels and nuts. Fresh and frozen fruit are always good to have on hand. Even canned and shelf-stable packs of tropical fruits can top your pudding. Before you know it, you’ll be seeing surprising pudding pairings everywhere you look.
With a little creativity, you could have a unique pudding snack every day of the week. We’ve got a few ideas to get you started.
Find out more about Kozy Shack® Pudding at www.kozyshack.com.
Banana Split Pudding Snack — Cut a banana in half the long way. Stand one half in a small cup. Spoon chocolate pudding into the cup and top with a maraschino cherry.
Minty Chocolate Pudding — Cut mint and chocolate layered candies into smaller pieces. Spoon Kozy Shack Chocolate Pudding into a small bowl. Top with mint pieces.
Chocolate Drizzled Strawberries and Tapioca Pudding — Drizzle strawberries with melted dark chocolate and allow to set. Layer chopped strawberries and Kozy Shack Tapioca Pudding in a small dish. Top with a chocolate-drizzled strawberry.
Bananas & Cinnamon Rice Pudding — Spoon rice pudding into a small dish. Top with sliced bananas and a sprinkle of ground cinnamon.
Peaches & Blueberries Rice Pudding — Layer diced fresh peaches, Kozy Shack Rice Pudding and blueberries in a small dish. Top with any remaining fruit.
Candied Almond Slivers and Tapioca Pudding — Spoon tapioca pudding into a dish. Top with candied almond slivers.
Chocolate Pudding — Spoon Kozy Shack Chocolate Pudding into a colorful cup. Top with a dollop of whipped cream and a cookie.
Mango & Coconut Tapioca Pudding — Cut a fresh mango into small pieces. Spoon Kozy Shack Tapioca Pudding into a small dish. Top with mango and sprinkle with toasted coconut.
Blackberry Rice Pudding — Dice a handful of fresh blackberries. Layer blackberries and Kozy Shack Rice Pudding in small dish. Top with any remaining fruit and a mint leaf.
Fresh Raspberries and Chocolate Pudding — Layer fresh raspberries, whipped cream and Kozy Shack Chocolate Pudding in a small dish. Top with extra raspberries and a dollop of whipped cream.
Lemon Tapioca Pudding — Crush a couple of lemon shortbread cookies. Spoon into the bottom of a small dish. Top with Kozy Shack Tapioca pudding, a sprinkle of lemon zest and assorted fresh berries.
SOURCE: Kozy Shack
- 2 firm ripe bananas
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 1/2 cup red grapes (about 16)
- 1/2 cup green grapes (about 16)
- 8 10-inch wooden skewers
- 1 1/2 ounces dark chocolate (60 to 70 percent cocoa solids), finely chopped
- Line a baking sheet with wax paper. Cut the banana into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. Place in small bowl and toss gently with the orange juice.
- Skewer fruit, alternating two grapes for each piece of banana, and place fruit skewers onto lined tray.
- Place chocolate in small microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 1 minute, then stir well, and microwave another 10 seconds if necessary to melt chocolate.
- Using a spoon, drizzle melted chocolate onto fruit skewers.
- Place the tray in the freezer for at least 2 hours. Once frozen, skewers may be transferred to a sealable plastic bag where they will keep in the freezer for up to a week. Allow to soften at room temperature for 5 minutes before eating.
These delightful frozen treats are healthy, too.
Makes 4 servings