Whether it’s for rich chocolate concoctions, fruit-flavored treats, or sweet temptations laden with spice, most people have an occasional craving for desserts. With the modern interest in keeping a slim figure and improving physical health, however, some people may feel that their favorite treats are off-limits, making the prospect of dieting seem especially grim. In excess and when sourced from poor ingredients, desserts can, in fact, be detrimental to a healthy diet, but this doesn’t mean that it’s impossible -or even difficult– to work sweets into a plan for quality nutrition. As with many aspects of healthy eating, choosing beneficial desserts requires taking a closer look at the ingredients found in standard sweet items, thinking about how these ingredients may impact a diet, and making any necessary changes to optimize results. When desserts are closely examined and steps are taken to make them more nutritionally valuable, those concerned about their weight will likely never have to skip dessert again.
Desserts are often considered as being automatically bad for one’s health; eating dessert may seem like something to be guilty over, and many people attempt to abstain from sweet treats to avoid “ruining” their diets. This conception may well be true of certain items found in grocery stores or on menus, but there are scores of healthy desserts that can be just as nourishing as other components of a meal. An important step towards embracing a wider world of dessert choices is examining the nature of the sweet taste. A diet that’s rich in processed sugars such as corn syrup may result in a lowered ability to detect the fine, sweet flavors of more natural products, such as fruits. Those who abstain from soft drinks, high-sugar cereals, and other common culprits may find that their appreciation for the many shades of sweet flavor can grow a great deal, making it possible to think of dessert in very different terms.
In many dessert dishes, using only a small amount of sugar, honey, molasses, or other sweeteners is likely to yield delicious results without overloading the body. Scores of dessert recipes call for cups upon cups of sugar, whereas mere tablespoons are often enough to lend a sweet taste to a cake, a batch of cookies, or other dessert items. Dessert products purchased at bakeries or grocery stores typically include excessive amounts of sugar, and may also be laden with chemical preservatives and unhealthy fats, making them a poor choice for anyone attempting to lose weight or maintain a healthy waistline. One of the best ways to ensure that one’s desserts are positive in their nutritional value is to either make them at home or to carefully scrutinize their ingredients, passive over any items that include unfamiliar products or that list sugar as one of the principal constituents. At home, cooks can finely control the amount of sugar that goes into a given desert item, making this the best option in most cases.
From time to time, of course, a long-standing favorite from …Continue reading
Few things are more satisfying than a cup of smooth, cold sorbet on a warm and relaxing day. I love to make and eat sorbet, but there is a potential downside. Unlike ice cream, sorbet has neither fat nor lactose; but just like ice cream, sorbet has lots and lots of sugar. When making sorbet, in order to get a consistently creamy texture, I would sometimes add up to one full cup of sugar for every cup of juice. Of course, the amount I added depended on the juice I was using, but that is still too much sugar. Now that I am trying to eat healthier, I have turned to a low sugar alternative.
Being on a low sugar diet, I decided to look at my local grocery store for sorbet that had reduced sugar content. Not only was the sugar levels similar to what I had been making at home, but there were other additives. Many of which I had not encountered since chemistry lab in college! The solution? Make your own sorbet, but replace the sugar with agave nectar. Agave nectar (sometimes called agave syrup) is a natural sweetener that is 1.4 times sweeter than white sugar, according to the Madhava company that makes the nectar. That means that you can immediately reduce the amount of sweetener needed in the recipe by 40%. To get the creamy texture, be sure to use the whole fruit instead of just fruit juice. Homemade sorbet is easy to make a treat that is delicious and healthy.
What you will need:
- Fruit (or fruit juice) of your choice
- Agave Nectar (or sugar)
- Food processor or ice cream maker
- Water (only if you are making lemon or lime sorbet)
There are two ways of making sorbet – with a food processor or an ice cream maker. To make it with a food processor, simply mix the fruit and sugar together in the food processor. Put the mixture into plastic containers and place it in the freezer. After it has frozen, take the containers out and run it back through the food processor. This will yield more of a gelato consistency with a little bit of a crunch. To use the ice cream maker, mix the fruit and sugar together, then put the mixture in the refrigerator for a couple of hours to chill. After it is chilled, transfer the mixture to the ice cream maker and let the machine do the work of mixing and freezing. This will yield a creamy consistency that melts on the tongue. My personal favorite is a combination of the two! Puree three-fourths cup of agave nectar for every cup of fresh fruit in a food processor. Then chill the mixture in the refrigerator and finish it off with the ice cream maker. By using the whole fruit, the sorbet turns out thicker, and you also get to keep all the nutrients!
The next time your sweet tooth comes calling, think of this homemade sorbet to satisfy …Continue reading
For weeks leading up to the Mid-Autumn festival every year, mooncakes and festival snacks abound. Many of these products were produced weeks ago and imported from places across the globe. If you’re living in the United States, finding fresh products to celebrate this year’s Mid-Autumn festival can be very difficult. Whether you’re celebrating with family and friends, or just looking for some good, traditional Chinese fare, stick around for some Mid-Autumn recipes and tips.
Traditionally celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth month of the Chinese calendar, the Mid-Autumn Festival is a major holiday across China, Taiwan, and Vietnam and is rife with traditions and history. As could be expected, food plays a major role in this autumn holiday.
One of the most visible and traditional Mid-Autumn recipes on display is often the mooncake. While many varieties exist, traditional mooncakes have a soft outside crust with a sweet, dense filling in the center. Other foods that are enjoyed during this time are things like pumpkin and taro to bring good health and good luck respectively. Other foods include wine with osmanthus flower and river snails, each of these is also tied to lore bringing happiness and bright eyes to those who consume them during the festival.
Making mooncakes along with other Mid-Autumn recipes can be quite a challenge without access to traditional ingredients or mixes. In order to easily make this recipe, stopping by an Asian grocery will help speed up the process. Try to pick up ingredients like golden syrup, alkaline water, melon seeds, along with whatever fillings you’re considering for your traditional mooncakes. Another thing that should be picked up at any Asian market is a mooncake mold. They come in a variety of shapes and designs, so pick a few that could add a pleasant variety to your display.
Once you have picked up your ingredients, it’s time to make the filling and dough. For the filling to do ratio, consider this ratio 7 parts filling: 3 parts dough. That should give you an idea of how much to make when planning different types of filling.
Filling (feel free to make your own variations):
- 14 oz. (400g Package) Lotus Seed Paste
- 1.5 oz. (around 40g) Melon Seeds
- 1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
- 1 / 2 Tsp Alkaline Water
- 5 Tsp Vegetable Oil
- 5 Tbsp Golden Syrup
To make the dough, first, mix together the alkaline water with syrup. Stir in the oil and mix until they are completely blended. In a separate bowl, add the flour and make a well where you will stir in the syrup mixture. Mix the dough until it forms a loose dough. From there, knead and shape the dough into a round ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Let this dough refrigerate for at least two hours.
While the dough is resting, mix together the lotus seed paste and the melon seeds. Separate the mixture into two tablespoon portions and shape into balls. Set the balls …Continue reading
Cakes are one of the favorite desserts of people of all ages. It is always present in various kinds of gatherings. Some cakes are traditionally eaten on special occasions such as at Christmas Eve. Others can be eaten with different toppings and are available in a variety of forms.
Some delicious gourmet cakes:
The Carrot Cake
Carrot could be the primary ingredient of a carrot cake and consists of huge amounts of sugar like sugar beets. It was used throughout the medieval age as a sweet ingredient within the sweet cake. The carrot cake is usually a sweet gourmet cake ready by way of the mixture of grated carrot and butter. The course of action of cooking outcomes in soft carrot, also as the cake, was a dense and soft texture. The carrots themselves strengthen and add to the look, texture, and flavor on the cake.
You could add ingredients to your carrot cake to make it more personal, depending on your taste buds. You could sprinkle it with raisins, nuts, coconut or pineapple.
The serving of carrot cake may be either plain, with glazed or topped with white icing. It can also be served topped with cream cheese icing and chopped walnuts.
A carrot cake with cream cheese icing is listed as number five on the top five fad foods of the 1970s according to the American-based Food Network in 2005. And carrot cakes are available in different forms such as sheet cake, cupcake, and loaf form. They are popular in the United States and in the United Kingdom.
The Christmas cake
Christmas cake is actually a fruit cake well known in Ireland, Japan, Philippines, United Kingdom, as well as other countries beneath the Commonwealth. Folks in these nations typically give out fruit cakes as presents during the vacation season.
Christmas cake has many forms. You will find spongy to heavy, crumbly-moist to sticky-wet, light to dark and spongy to heavy. Some are leavened or unleavened, square or oblong, round shape, fairy cakes, dusting with icing sugar and much more.
The Scottish Christmas cake is called Whisky Dundee and is actually a most loved regular Christmas cake. It truly is made with Scotch whiskey and feels crumbly and light on the palate. It has candied peels and light fruits which include sultanas, cherries, currants, and raisins. This cake is loved by these that are not fond of moist and incredibly rich textured cakes.
Another Christmas cake is the apple Segrave; me Christmas cake. It particularly consists of a rich mix of finely sliced apples. It is usually mixed with raisins and other fruit. It also has cream cheese, heavy whipping cream, and eggs.
Christmas cake in a certain occasion is even added with coins as touch pieces for good luck. The coins may be the 3d piece, silver, or sixpences wrapped in greaseproof paper packages.
The Wacky Cake
It was believed that Beatrice Fe O’Hearn was the inventor with the wacky cake recipe. The recipe was passed down to …Continue reading
Most people would think that a fruit cake is only available during the Christmas season. However, anyone can enjoy a slice of this unique cake any time of the year, so if you can’t wait for the holidays to experience the richness of a fruit cake then you’ll be glad that you can get it anytime you wish.
A fruit cake is normally made with dried fruits and nuts that are soaked in either brandy or rum for a couple of days before adding them to the cake mixture. As you can see, the process of making a fruit cake is longer and more tedious than making other cakes, and if you don’t have the patience then perhaps you should stick to the ready-made cakes that can be purchased in pastry and cake shops. For other people though, nothing beats the taste of a tasty, home-made fruit cake.
The fruitcake actually originated in ancient Rome, with pomegranate seeds, raisins, and pine nuts mixed in with barley mash. With the introduction of dried fruits and nuts in Europe, fruit cake baking took on a different aspect that has been improved upon during the course of history. Nowadays, candied fruits can be used as an alternative for dried fruits and are less expensive too. The popularity of the fruit cake has indeed soared over the centuries.
Generally, a fruit cake may come in 3 variations. The conventional cake that we often partake of is perhaps the most popular. A dark fruitcake has a sharper aroma and a richer flavor than its counterparts and contains prunes, dates, and molasses. These ingredients add to the strong aroma of the cake which is combined with rum or brandy. A light version meanwhile includes ingredients such as apricots, pineapple, and raisins to give it a more subtle taste that is not too overwhelming to the senses.
In some countries, fruit cakes are actually eaten only during the holiday seasons and cannot be purchased during any other time of the year. People in some countries, on the other hand, do not use any liquor in making these cakes and often just soak the fruits and nuts in fruit juice as a substitute for rum or brandy. This makes it suitable for people who do not drink any liquor and children who used to be prohibited from eating fruitcakes because of alcohol.
No matter how you enjoy a fruit cake however, the wait is definitely worth it. In addition, a loaf of fruitcake that has rum or brandy in it can last up to several years, assuring you of being able to munch on a slice anytime you want without worrying that it will go bad soon, unlike the other cakes that usually last for just a number of days. A fruitcake can also be a great gift to friend and family during special occasions, and the giving of this unique cake during holiday seasons has been a tradition in many countries all over the world for centuries.…Continue reading
Whether you love it or hate it, fruit cake is a tradition everywhere. There are several different versions of the confection, but they are all still similar.
Fruit cake can be traced back as early as ancient Rome where it was made with barley, pine nuts, pomegranate seeds, and raisins. Through the Middle Ages is when the name fruit cake was coined and this is when the use of fruits that had been preserved started. This was the time when these pastries spread rapidly and many different variations of the recipe started coming about.
This treat is now made in multiple countries from the Bahamas where they soak absolutely everything in rum to Canada where it is almost only a Christmas time treat. In Germany, it is also a Christmas time confection. Italy calls their Panforte and it has a rather strong flavor to it. In Romania, they serve this pastry at every important holiday.
The United States is where the mass production of fruit cake began. While many of the traditional recipes call for brandy or liqueur to be added to the confection at some point and for it to be coated with powdered sugar, most of the loaves that are mass produced do not contain the alcohol in them. All these were things originally added to help prevent molding, but there are many other ways that we are able to do that now.
The truth of the matter is that most in the U.S. seem to look down upon fruit cake. This can partially be linked back to Johnny Carson who had made some jokes at the expense of this particular dessert. There are also other reasons too, one of these being that many of the confections that are made do not seem to have much appeal for the taste buds. There are, however, versions that are absolutely delicious, but the ones that are not quite up to par seem to be the most widely known in the country.
Most of the homemade recipes seem to come out tasting rather good as long as the person making them has the ability to bake. It is some of the mass-produced deserts that live up to the bad reputation for having to little flavor or some other deficiency that seems to make it less than pleasant.
For those of you who are able to bake delicious treats, try making your own fruit cake. You may be pleasantly surprised at how good it really can come out to be. There are a number of different recipes available so find one that you think sounds good and go from there. Chances are that if it sounds like it would be a great dessert then it probably will. The worst that could happen is that it does not turn out the way you had hoped and you have to find something to do with it other than eating it.
No matter the country, no matter the tradition, fruit cake has a long, rich, …Continue reading
Going on vacation is a welcome break from day to day life. Going on a culinary vacation offers that break as well as the opportunity to immerse yourself into the cultural aspects of the region you are visiting with an experienced guide. A culinary vacation tuscany, for example, gives participants the opportunity to taste, pick and cook with the local ingredients that make up some of the most tasty and well-known dishes of Umbria.
Here are three things to expect while on a culinary vacation.
What is Included?
Every culinary trip is a little different from the next, but for the most part, the trip will include lodging, meals and cooking classes as well as transportation throughout the trip. Before you leave your deposit for the trip, if you have any doubts or questions about what is included, be sure to ask. Some trip organizers are specific about the inclusions, while others may not be. Often, transportation to and from the starting and ending destination is not included. This is especially true if the group is flying out of an international airport but you live in a smaller city.
A Full Itinerary
Your cost for the trip covers the major portions of the scheduled activities. The higher the price, the more activities you should expect, and therefore, a packed itinerary. Again, every trip organizer is different, so if you would like to know what the trip itinerary includes, be sure to ask. Every day will most likely include a class, sight seeing and travel.
If you are taking a culinary vacation to a destination that is foreign to you, it is probably because you expect to experience everything that culture has to offer, especially the tastes. In Italy, you may be asked to pick your own cheese, olives and fish, and then, incorporate them into your meal during your cooking class for maximum cultural immersion.
A culinary vacation tuscany offers a truly unique experience that should be memorable with a full itinerary of activities and maximum opportunity for cultural immersion.…Continue reading