CARTHAGE, Mo. —
Happy New Year. Are you getting ready to eat a bowl of black-eyed peas? I'm not a fan, but it's become a tradition to eat at least one spoonful for good luck.
Hopefully your year is off to a good start and any resolutions you made are still intact on this first day of 2014. New Year's resolutions are traditionally acts of self-improvement, which more than likely include food or exercise. How many of us vow to eat less and exercise more? While it's important to care for our bodies, it's good to think about the spirit, too. Helping others by volunteering time and talents is great for the soul and benefits the less fortunate. Sometimes, just a friendly smile or hug does wonders.
Here are a few ideas for making healthy choices when snacking during 2014, courtesy of huffingtonpost.com:
Almond butter: Eat a spoonful right out of the jar for a quick snack.
Frozen grapes: A great alternative to ice cream when that late-night urge hits you.
Sardines: Eat them plain out of the can or in mustard.
Greek yogurt: It's higher in protein and lower in sugar than regular yogurt.
Salmon: This meal is easy to fix for dinner after work.
Shredded wheat: A snack that's low in sodium. Great with fruit added, and it's filling.
Parmesan cheese: Add a little for lots of taste. It's loaded with calcium.
Apples: This fruit is full of antioxidants and fiber, so one a day really is good for you.
Energy bars: They are a good substitute if you're not able to sit down and eat a nutritious breakfast.
Hard boiled eggs: This snack is easy to transport, and it's good for your hair, eyes and brain.
Unsalted nuts: This snack is also easy to take with you, and it contains protein and good fats.
Dried apples: This snack stays edible longer than a regular apple.
Caramels: Just a couple of these will usually satisfy a sweet tooth. Plus, they also take longer to chew.
Many times just a few simple changes can make a big difference. Give up one soft drink a day and you are getting rid of over 50,000 calories a year. That's a lot of zeros! I wish you success with all your resolutions.
In sharing my Christmas traditions last week, how could I forget the Ytell family dinner? The dinner is held a few days after Christmas. Beth Ytell Kang and her husband, Chris, travel from California and, along with Wayne and Hans Ytell, welcome friends for a dinner prepared by Chris. On Friday evening, a roomful of us enjoyed what may well have been the best dinner Chris has ever prepared. Among the dishes were Chinese pan-fried noodles, mild Malaysian curried potatoes, Malaysian spare ribs and barbecue pork. My pick for dish of the night was the noodles. So delicious, and I'm lucky to be included in this get-together.
If you have some black-eyed peas ready for today, add a tasty twist with the Hoppin' John recipe from "Taste of Home Southern Favorites." It's ready in no time and so much prettier than plain black-eyed peas. The recipe calls for canned black-eyed peas, but those you have soaked and cooked will work fine, too. For today's entree, try the stir fry from Great Foods Magazine. It takes a little time to do the preparation, but it's worth the effort. I love the crunch from the water chestnuts. Also from "Taste of Home Southern Favorites" come the ultimate dessert: a brownie with chocolate, peanut butter and a crispy crunch. Enjoy! Here's to a happy new year and happy eating!
1/4 cup each chopped red and green pepper
2 tablespoons chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
2/3 cup canned black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
2/3 cup cooked rice
In a small skillet, saute the peppers, onion, garlic powder and salt in butter for 4 to 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in peas and rice; heat through, stirring occasionally. Yields 2 servings.
Stir-fried chicken and vegetables
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch strips
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 cup chopped broccoli
3/4 cup carrots, julienned
1 green pepper, cut into strips
1 cup chicken broth
4 tablespoons soy sauce
1 cup cooked white or brown rice
1/2 cup sliced water chestnuts
Heat oil in wok or skillet. Add ginger and garlic; cook about 1 minute or until well-browned. Remove ginger and garlic; discard. Add chicken to skillet and brown, stirring constantly. Add broccoli, carrots and pepper, still stirring. Add broth; cover and cook until vegetables are tender-crisp and chicken is cooked through. Add more broth, if needed. Add soy sauce. Stir in rice and water chestnuts. Serves 4.
Peanut butter brownie bars
1 fudge brownie mix (9-by-13-inch pan size)
12 peanut butter cups, chopped
1/2 cup salted peanuts, chopped
2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
11/4 cups creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 cups crisp rice cereal
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
Prepare brownie batter according to package directions. Spread into greased pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out with moist crumbs. Sprinkle with the peanut butter cups and peanuts. Bake 4 to 6 minutes longer or until chocolate is melted. Cool on wire rack. Meanwhile, microwave chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter; stir until smooth. Stir in remaining ingredients. Carefully spread over brownies. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before cutting. Yields 3 dozen bars.
Address correspondence to Cheryle Finley, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.