Nov 27

3 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the Holidays

www.cobornsblog.com - Crafty Creations with Lynell

Lynell

Last year I wrote a blog featuring Seven Festive Ways to Use a Mason Jar. I received a lot of positive feedback so I wanted to blog about a few more fun ways to use a mason jar for the holidays. These ideas are simple, fun and make great gifts. Don’t forget that you can get most, if not all of the items to make these gifts at your local Coborn’s!

Mint Cocoa Cocktail

First let’s start with a fun “Adult” gift, The Mint Cocoa Cocktail. A little mint a little cocoa and a little liquor make for a great way to unwind from a long winter day. Click Here to print the Free Printable Gift Tags that include the directions on how to make this Christmas-y Cocktail.

Mint Cocoa Cocktail Mason Jar Gift PLUS two more great ways to use a Mason Jar for your Holiday Gifting. www.cobornsblog.com

Mint Cocoa Cocktail Mason Jar Gift
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • Mason Jar
  • Handful Peppermint Candies
  • 2 Small Bottles Peppermint Schnapps
  • 2 Packets Hot Cocoa Mix
  • 2 Peppermint Candy Canes
  • One 8″ Round Piece of Material (peppermint pattern)
  • 4.5′ Twine
  • Four 1″ Bulbs (I used 4 different colors)
  • Free Printable Tag
Instructions
  1. Place peppermint candies in the bottom of the jar.
  2. Place 2 hot cocoa packets in the back of the jar.
  3. Place 2 bottles of peppermint schnapps in the jar in front of the cocoa packets.
  4. Add 2 candy canes in the jar for stir sticks.
  5. Screw the lid on the jar.
  6. Place the material on top of the lid.
  7. Wrap the twine twice around the lid to secure the material on the top of the jar.
  8. Attach free printable tag with twine.
  9. Tie the bulbs to the end of the twine.
  10. Stir with candy canes and enjoy!

 

Cinnamon Popcorn Santa

My next mason jar gift idea is a tasty treat that anyone on your list will love!

Cinnamon Popcorn Santa Mason Jar Gift PLUS two more great ways to use a Mason Jar for your Holiday Gifting. www.cobornsblog.com

Cinnamon Popcorn Santa Mason Jar Gift
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • Mason Jar Supplies
  • Large Mason jar
  • Little Santa hat
  • 1 Foot 1″ Black Ribbon (or paper)
  • 2″ x 2″ Sparkly Silver Paper
  • Cinnamon Candy Popcorn
  • Hot Glue
  • Cinnamon Popcorn Ingredients
  • 8 Quarts Popped Popcorn
  • 1 Cup Butter, cubed
  • ½ Cup Light Corn Syrup
  • 9 Oz. Red Hot Candies
Instructions
  1. Mason Jar Instructions
  2. Hot glue the Santa hat on the lid.
  3. Hot glue the black band around the middle of the jar.
  4. Hot glue the silver buckle on the black band.
  5. Fill the jar with Cinnamon Candy Popcorn.
  6. Cinnamon Popcorn Directions
  7. Place popcorn in a large bowl; set aside.
  8. In a large saucepan, combine the butter, corn syrup and candies; bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently for 5 minutes.
  9. Pour sauce over popcorn and toss to coat.
  10. Transfer popcorn to two greased 15″ x 10″ x1″ baking pans.
  11. Bake at 250°F for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
  12. Dump popcorn onto waxed paper to cool.
  13. Break apart; store in airtight containers.

 

Edible Play Dough Snowman

My last mason jar gift idea is an edible play dough snowman. This is a great gift for the kids on your list. It is not a tasty treat, but if it is consumed, it is at least made with all edible ingredients! Not to mention it is pretty adorable as well.

DIY Edible Play Dough Snowman Mason Jar Gift PLUS two more great ways to use a Mason Jar for your Holiday Gifting. www.cobornsblog.com

Edible Play Dough Snowman Mason Jar Gift
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • Mason Jar Snowman Supplies
  • Mason Jar
  • White Spray Paint
  • Two ¾ -1″ Black Buttons
  • Four ½” Black Buttons
  • Small Piece Orange Felt
  • 16″ Square Piece of Material
  • Styrofoam ball – 3″ Round and 1 ½” high
  • Scissors
  • Hot Glue Gun & Glue
  • Edible Play Dough Ingredients
  • 1 Box White Cake Mix
  • 1 Stick Butter, softened
  • Water
Instructions
  1. Spray paint the Mason jar white.
  2. Cut orange felt into a triangle to create a nose.
  3. Hot glue button eyes, button mouth and felt nose onto jar.
  4. Lay material right side down and place jar lid on top.
  5. Cut Styrofoam ball to fit on top of the jar (use a steak knife).
  6. Pull material up around the lid and ball and tie it, cutting off any excess.
  7. Make Edible Play Dough by combining cake mix, stick of softened butter and water. Add water as needed to create desired consistency.
  8. Push play dough in the jar and seal it with the lid.
Notes
The white spray paint is optional. You will still get the white color of the snowman by placing the white play dough inside the mason jar.

 

I hope you enjoy making these fun and festive mason jar gifts for your friends and family this holiday. For more fun gift ideas using mason jars Click Here and start following us on Pinterest today!

Lynell
Coborn’s, Inc. Graphic Designer

Click Here for more blog articles written by Lynell
www.cobornsblog.com - Crafty Creations by Lynell

 

 

Nov 25

Guilt-Free Thanksgiving Leftovers

Guilt-Free Thanksgiving Leftover - www.cobornsblog.com

www.cobornsblog.com - Fun with Family with Rebecca

Rebecca

Each year, no matter which side of the family we celebrate Thanksgiving with, we are always faced with leftovers from a heavy holiday meal. While some folks love to stuff themselves with stuffing, taters and gravy, turkey, etc., others of us dread the heaviness of the meal. In goes the food, out goes the energy. Add to that the mushy factor (let’s face it, there’s rarely much crunch in a typical Thanksgiving meal), and my kids are starving for the fresher fare within just a few hours of washing the dishes.

Thanksgiving leftovers are inevitable, but it doesn’t mean you have to be confined to the couch for the long weekend. The following three recipes transform your leftover turkey, cranberry sauce and pumpkin puree into light and delicious favorites that you’re sure to love.

Turkey-and-Gruyère Radicchio Cups

Turkey-and-Gruyère Radicchio Cups - www.cobornsblog.com

Turkey-and-Gruyère Radicchio Cups
Author: 
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Light and crunchy, this refreshing dish features leftover turkey, creamy cheese and fresh apples and jicama.
Ingredients
  • 1 Tbsp. low-fat mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp. cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1.5 oz. Gruyère or Jarlsberg cheese, cut julienne style
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, cut julienne style
  • 1 peeled jicama, cut julienne style
  • 1 small celery stalk, cut julienne style
  • 6 ounces cooked cubed turkey
  • 8 radicchio leaves (from 1 small head)
  • Fresh chives, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Stir together mayo, vinegar and mustard in a medium bowl. Add cheese and next 4 ingredients (through turkey), and toss to combine.
  2. Spoon the mixture evenly into the radicchio leaves. Garnish with chives and serve immediately.

Brie and Cranberry Pizza

Brie and Cranberry Pizza - www.cobornsblog.com

Brie and Cranberry Pizza
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Decadent flavors of creamy Brie cheese and tart cranberry sauce top a light crust for a grown-up pizza with flair.
Ingredients
  • 1 whole wheat thin crust 12” premade pizza crust
  • 8 ounces cubed Brie cheese
  • ¾ cup whole berry cranberry sauce
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Place pizza crust on a pan, then sprinkle with cubes of cheese.
  3. Spoon the cranberry sauce over the cheese and top with pecans.
  4. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the crust is golden brown. Cool 5 minutes and cut into wedges or squares.

Harvest Pumpkin Soup

Harvest Pumpkin Soup - www.cobornsblog.com

Harvest Pumpkin Soup
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Any time you need freshly pureed pumpkin, there are always leftovers. This soup turns 2 cups of pumpkin puree into the ultimate comfort food that’s brimming with Vitamin E.
Ingredients
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 large potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4½ cups chicken broth (or 3 cups chicken broth and 1 cup of turkey gravy)
  • 2 cups pureed pumpkin
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 3 Tbsp. heavy cream
  • 3 Tbsp. sour cream for garnish (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a large pot over medium heat, melt butter. Add potato and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, about 8 minutes. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook until potato is tender, 10 to 12 minutes.
  2. Stir in pumpkin. Using an immersion blender, purée mixture until smooth. (Or, use a blender to purée mixture in batches, then return to pot.) Stir in ½ teaspoon salt, ⅛ teaspoon pepper, and nutmeg.
  3. Increase heat to medium-high and bring mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in cream and heat thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper, if desired and garnish with sour cream. Serve hot.

As you use up your Thanksgiving leftovers in these lighter recipes, you now have room for taste testing for the next season: cookies!

Rebecca
Communications Manager
Click here for more articles written by Rebecca.
www.cobornsblog.com - Fun with Family with Rebecca

Nov 22

Weekly Ad Recipe – Baked Herb Chicken

Weekly Ad Recipe - Baked Herb Chicken www.cobornsblog.com

This super easy-to-make chicken is usually done in 30 minutes which makes it great for after work dinners. Don’t forget to serve with a side salad, veggie or some type of potato.
Enjoy…. I did!

Jayne,
Coborn’s Inc. Meat and Seafood Merchandiser

Baked Herb Chicken
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • ½ tsp. Dried Rosemary Leaves, crushed
  • ½ tsp. Dried Thyme Leaves, crushed
  • 1 T. Dijon Mustard
  • 1 T. Olive Oil
  • ½ tsp. Salt
  • 2½ Lbs. Chicken, cut-up
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Line cookie sheet with foil and spray sheet with cooking spray.
  3. In small bowl, mix rosemary, thyme, mustard, oil and salt.
  4. Brush or rub mixture over chicken.
  5. Place on cookie sheet.
  6. Bake 30 minutes, turning once until internal temperature of chicken reaches at least 165 degrees.
Notes
Suggested Wine Pairing Casa Lapostolle Chardonnay

 

 

Nov 20

A Little Luxury Gift without a Luxury Price Tag

Simple and Delicious Gift Idea - www.cobornsblog.com

www.cobornsblog.com - Crafty Creations with Lynell

Lynell

Need a special gift that is a true luxury without a luxury price tag? Simply pair a couple apples with a package of Four Brothers Creamy Caramel Dip and wrap it up. This year’s apples are particularly delicious – juicy and crisp and very flavorful. They are the perfect complement to this Coborn’s exclusive, rich and creamy, gourmet caramel dip. These “sweet” gifts are great for co-workers, party hosts, neighbors, and even close friends. They are simple, gourmet, inexpensive and oh-so-delicious!

Caramel Apple Holiday Gift
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 Green Apple
  • Red Apple
  • 1 Container Four Brothers Creamy Caramel Dip
  • 1.5 Sq. Ft. Clear Cellophane
  • 1 Ft. Holiday Ribbon
  • Holiday Décor Garnishments
Instructions
  1. Place the caramel dip container on the center of the cellophane.
  2. Place the apples on top of the caramel dip. You can use two smaller apples or one giant one.
  3. Pull the cellophane up to surround the caramel dip and apples, and then tie your ribbon around the top.
  4. Finish the gift by tying on some holiday décor garnishments, whether pine boughs and a cinnamon stick or some Christmas bulbs.

The Four Brothers Creamy Caramel Dip is one of the signature Coborn’s family products that honors the company’s heritage and history. It was the four Coborn brothers in the third generation in the company who really began the growth of the Coborn’s chain of supermarkets. Click here to read more about the Four Brothers brand.

Lynell
Coborn’s, Inc. Graphic Designer

Click Here for more blog articles written by Lynell.

www.cobornsblog.com - Crafty Creations by Lynell

 

Nov 18

What is a Leek?

What is a Leek? www.cobornsblog.com

www.cobornsblog.com - Produce Philosophy with Mike

Mike P.

“It looks like a green onion”, but it is a leek.

We hear that all the time in the Produce world. Leek is slowly growing in popularity, but still remains in the category as somewhat of a gourmet type item. They have been around for many, many years, yet many people have never heard of them. Availability is year round and prices do not fluctuate much. The fall/ winter season seems to be when people use them the most. My favorite way that I have enjoyed leek is in soup, specifically Potato Leek soup. I love the mild, creamy onion flavor that it offers. Very simple, and easy to make. Leeks can also be sliced as a relish, eaten with a dip or raw, braised in the oven, diced, or added to a salad which adds a crunchy onion flavor.

Some of the health benefits known about leeks are that they are high in fiber and potassium. They are also known to help lower cholesterol and have many other vitamins benefits as well.

Leeks grow in the ground like a regular onion. The root and the white part are underground with the green tops sticking out. Because of this, the most important thing is to make sure that they are cleaned properly before using.  Cleaning them is quite easy. Cut the roots off of the bottom and chop off the top part between green and white. Then cut again lengthwise, and rinse under cold water. The dirt in there comes out pretty easy. Once they are clean, you are ready to dice up the leek. The white part is the part that is typically eaten. They are the most tender and have a mild flavor. The all green part is quite tough, with a strong flavor.

Potato Leek Soup

Potato Leek Soup Recipe - www.cobornsblog.com

This is very simple and easy to do. You could add more ingredients if you so choose. Other things I may add from time to time might include diced carrots as another vegetable or diced ham or cooked chicken if you are looking for meat in yours. If you’re looking to try a different kind of soup, give this one a try. It is different, but oh so good.

Potato Leek Soup
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 3 Large Leek, cut lengthwise, separate, and clean. Pale white and white part only, dice, and chop.
  • 2 T. Butter
  • 2 Cups Water
  • 2 Cups (1 can) Chicken Broth
  • 2 Lbs Potatoes, peeled, and diced
  • ¼ Cup Fresh or Dried Parsley
  • ½ tsp. Dried Thyme
Instructions
  1. Cook diced leek in butter with salt and pepper in a medium sauce pan.
  2. Cover and cook on low heat for about 10 minutes checking often, as you do not want leeks to brown at all.
  3. Add water, broth, and potatoes.
  4. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes.
  5. Take about half of your soup mixture out of the pan and put in blender to puree it. This will still give you some soup that will have some chunks. You could puree all of it; if you want it real smooth and creamy with no chunks – your call.
  6. Return mixture to pan, add thyme and parsley.
  7. Season with more salt, 1 to 2 teaspoons, and ground pepper to desired taste.
Notes
Replace chicken broth with vegetable broth for a vegetarian option.

Enjoy!

Mike
Coborn’s, Inc. Produce Merchandiser

Click Here for more blog articles written by Mike.
Produce Philosophy with Mike - www.cobornsblog.com

Nov 15

Weekly Ad Recipe – Cranberry Glazed Ham

Weekly Ad Recipe - Cranberry Glazed Ham - www.cobornsblog.com

If you want to WOW! your family and guests this is a wonderful holiday glaze to put over any kind of ham. I love the orange cranberry flavor and the presentation is so elegant with the sauce over a spiral sliced ham. Enjoy….I did!

Jayne,
Coborn’s Inc. Meat and Seafood Merchandiser

Weekly Ad Recipe – Cranberry Glazed Ham
Serves: 20
 
Ingredients
  • 7 Lb. Bone-in Ham, fully cooked
  • 4 Oz. Cranberry Sauce, whole berry
  • ¼ Cup Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
  • 1 T. Orange Zest
  • 3 T. Juice From Orange
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Place ham in shallow pan; cover with foil and bake 60 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, microwave remaining ingredients in microwavable bowl on high 30-45 seconds or until cranberry sauce is melted.
  4. Reserve half of the cranberry mixture.
  5. Remove foil from ham; brush cranberry mixture over ham and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until ham is heated through.
  6. Transfer ham to cutting board and let stand 15 minutes.
  7. Slice ham; serve with reserved cranberry mixture.
Notes
Suggested Wine Pairing Cupcake Pinot Noir

 

 

Nov 11

Savory and Sweet Treats… Just add Bacon!

Savory and Sweet Treats... Just add Bacon! Chocolate Chip Cookies with Bacon & Smokie Bacon Bite Recipes! www.cobornsblog.com

www.cobornsblog.com - Family, Friends & Food with Jayne

Jayne

Can you believe that Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away and pretty soon we will be ringing in the New Year?  Where did yesterday go?

The other day I was in my kitchen experimenting and as much as I like bacon I thought I would try some new recipes using bacon. Wow, was I pleasantly surprised to find out all the things you can prepare with bacon. I found a quick easy recipe for the holidays and believe it or not I found a fantastic chocolate chip cookie recipe that includes bacon in the recipe. Now I have a new appetizer and a new cookie to serve during the holidays. These cookies were so moist that after a week I am still nibbling on them every time I pass the kitchen counter.

Smokie Bacon Bites Recipe with Four Brothers Bacon - www.cobornsblog.com

Smokie Bacon Bites

Smokie Bacon Bites
 
Ingredients
  • 14 Oz. Cocktail Smokies
  • 16 Oz. Bacon
  • 1 Cup Brown Sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Cut bacon in half.
  3. Wrap each Little Smokie with half bacon slice; secure with toothpicks.
  4. Place in glass baking dish.
  5. Sprinkle one cup of brown sugar over entire pan of bacon bites.
  6. Bake 22-24 minutes or until bacon is crisp and golden brown, turning after 12 minutes.
Notes
Since the brown sugar glaze will be sticky, line the pan with foil before to make clean-up a snap!

Suggested Beer Pairing: Newcastle Brown Ale

 

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Bacon - www.cobornsblog.com

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Four Brothers Bacon

Chocoalte Chip Cookies with Four Brothers Bacon
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 24
 
Ingredients
  • 2 Cups Flour
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp. Baking Soda
  • ½ tsp. Salt
  • 1 Cup Butter, room temperature
  • ¾ Cup Brown Sugar, packed
  • ¾ Cup White Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tsp. Maple Extract
  • ⅓ Cup Four Brothers Bacon, fully cooked and chopped
  • 1 Cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.
  3. Beat together the butter, brown sugar and white sugar with an electric mixture until smooth.
  4. Add the remaining egg, vanilla extract and maple extract, beat until well blended and slightly fluffy.
  5. Stir in flour mixture a little at a time, mixing just until combined.
  6. Stir in bacon and chocolate chips.
  7. Scoop rounded tablespoons onto prepared cookie sheet.
  8. Bake in oven until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.
Notes
Make sure to fully cook the bacon and chop it into tiny little pieces before adding to cookie dough. I used my mini chopper.

 

Wishing all of you a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday and safe travels. Enjoy…..I did!

Jayne
Coborn’s, Inc. Meat and Seafood Merchandiser

Click Here for more blog articles written by Jayne.
www.cobornsblog.com - Family, Friends and Food with Jayne

Nov 8

Weekly Ad Recipe – Crusted Top Mahi Mahi

Weekly Ad Recipe Crusted Top Mahi Mahi cobornsblog.com

Mahi Mahi is found in most of the world’s warm waters. It is caught in the Caribbean, off the shores of Florida, near Hawaii and southern California. It is mild and slightly sweet, firm with large flakes. It is one of my favorite fish. If this is your first time preparing Mahi Mahi this is the recipe to start with. It is very easy to prepare and the fresh flavor of lemon goes so well with this type of fish.  Enjoy….I did!

Jayne
Coborn’s, Inc. Meat and Seafood Merchandiser

Weekly Ad Recipe – Crusted Top Mahi Mahi
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • ¼ Cup Italian-Style Bread Crumbs
  • ¼ Cup Parsley, chopped fresh
  • 2 tsp. Zest of Lemon
  • 1 T. Butter or Margarine, melted
  • 1 Lb. Mahi Mahi Fillet
  • ¼ tsp. Seasoned Salt
  • 1 T. Lemon Juice
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Line rectangular pan, with aluminum foil; spray foil with cooking spray.
  3. Mix bread crumbs, parsley, lemon peel and butter.
  4. Cut fish into 4 serving pieces.
  5. Place fish in pan.
  6. Sprinkle with seasoned salt.
  7. Drizzle with lemon juice.
  8. Spoon crumb mixture over each piece; press lightly.
  9. Bake uncovered 15 to 20 minutes until internal temperature reaches at least 145 degrees.
Notes
Suggested Wine Pairing Casa Lapostolle Sauvignon Blanc

 

 

Nov 6

Thanksgiving Table Decor with Free Printable Name Tags

Decorate your Thanksgiving table with personalized name tags! #FreePrintable - www.cobornsblog.com

www.cobornsblog.com - Practical Party Planning with Holly

Holly

I absolutely love this time of year. It seems that everyone is in a humble and grateful mood. Facebook and Twitter are full of people sharing what they are thankful for, my home is decorated in gorgeous burnt orange, golden yellow and earthy brown colors and the Vikings are on the TV. It is time to start planning for a festive family get together, Thanksgiving.

I will obviously have my table decorated with the colors of the season and have a delicious turkey roasting in the oven. I thought it would be fun to add a personal touch this year to my table setting with personalized name tags. Not only are these name tags crafty, rustic and oh-so-autumn, but they will make your guests feel special, too. It’s such a simple touch to tell someone that you’re thankful for them. Simply add them to the napkin decorations that adorn your table. The nice thing about these decorations is that you can make them weeks in advance in preparation for your Thanksgiving feast.

Decorate your Thanksgiving table with personalized name tags! #FreePrintable - www.cobornsblog.com

It’s easy, click here and print the tags on kraft paper. If you don’t have kraft paper, white paper will work just fine, I would suggest you use a thicker paper. Print and cut out as many tags as you will have guests and write their names on each tag. You can take it a step further and write a simple note to each tag as well to tell them why you are thankful to have them in your life. Attach the name tags to your napkins and add festive décor. You can add these to your place settings around the table or place them all in a basket at the end of your buffet line.

You could also leave these tags blank and when each person sits down at their place setting, they would fill out what they are thankful for. After everyone has written what they are thankful for, simply place all the tags in a hat and pick them out one by one during your meal and share them with all.

I hope that you have an amazing Thanksgiving with your family and don’t forget to tell them why you are thankful for them.

Holly
Coborn’s, Inc. Social Media / Creative Specialist

Click Here for more blog articles written by Holly
www.cobornsblog.com - Practical Party Planning with Holly

Nov 2

Warming Up with Healthy Soups

Healthy Soups

Happy fall, everyone!

Eat Healthy, Shop Smart with Ashley. www.cobornsblog.com

Ashley

The leaves have turned their final colors and are now dropping off the trees at a faster rate, the days are more crisp and cool and there is a very evident chill in the air. I hate to say it, but ol’ man winter is right around the corner and there is nothing you can do to prevent it unless you plan to move to Hawaii tomorrow. The only option left is to prepare and embrace it! You may wonder what I am doing to prepare myself. Well folks, besides turning on my fireplace and drinking hot tea every chance I get, I’m spending more time in my toasty, warm kitchen making soups! Hot and healthy soups are a great way to warm the soul and allow you to step out into the bitter cold with a bit more confidence that you won’t just turn into an icicle.

Tips_1Here are some tips to keep in mind while preparing soups:

    • Use low sodium broths, not necessarily lowER sodium (lower than what?). LowER sodium could still be very high; in order for something to be labeled as “low sodium,” it needs to have under 140mg of sodium per serving. Remember, when there is no salt, you need to replace it with other flavors, so…
    • Use sodium-free seasonings, such as Chef Paul and Mrs. Dash, as well as herbs – fresh, dry, or freeze dried – and garlic powder and onion powder should be a staples, too.
    • If you need to thicken your soup, use pureed potatoes or cauliflower or any other vegetable to thicken, and use fat free Greek yogurt in place of cream. I always try to think seasonally this time of year, so I would thicken my soup with pumpkin or squash, or both, and then add a dollop of fat free plain Greek yogurt on top for extra creaminess! You could also try a slurry of cornstarch and cold water instead of cream or roux, but obviously there is more nutrition if you use veggies.
    • Speaking of veggies, soups are a very easy way to get a lot of vegetables into your diet. Add, add, add away! Maybe adding vegetables sounds like a lot of work, but it surely doesn’t have to be! You can use canned or frozen vegetables instead of fresh; that way they have already been washed and cut. All you have to do is open the can or bag and just keep adding! Make sure they are not in cream sauce or loaded with extra sodium, though. Try to buy the no-salt-added versions or just remember to drain and rinse for 2-4 minutes to remove that excess sodium. Canned and Frozen are just as nutritious as their fresh counterparts. If you want to learn more information about this topic, click here to read my blog about how all forms of fruits and vegetables matter; canned, frozen, fresh, dried, and 100% juice.
    • Tips_2

    • If you are adding meat, make sure it is lean and always take off the skin; but who says you can’t make a seafood-based soup or why can’t it be vegetarian?
    • Try using tofu or beans and lentils as your protein base. Remember, canned beans are just as nutritious as dried beans and a huge time saver; just remember to drain and rinse them for 2-4 minutes to reduce the sodium by up to 41%. By the way, beans are so nourishing; they offer a good source of protein, iron, and fiber. Plus they are low-fat, not to mention very cheap compared to other protein foods. Cannellini beans work great for Italian-style soups while black or pinto beans are nice in Southwestern-types.
    • Don’t forget the whole grains! Get creative and use wheat berries, barley, quinoa, brown rice, or wild rice to name a few. You can either add them to the soup, or pour the soup on a bed of whole grains for something different. This will add fiber and keep you feeling fuller for longer. There is a laundry list of benefits of adding fiber to your diet, from weight loss to lowering your cholesterol and maintaining blood sugar levels, so don’t forget the fiber!
    • Think smart when it comes to toppings: Crackers may be the go-to soup topping, but there are other options that will add crunch or flavor to your soup, with some nutritional benefits to boot. If you are looking for a crunchy topping, try toasted whole wheat bread sliced into cubes or whole grain tortillas sliced into strips, misted with oil and placed under the broiler until crispy, or whole wheat bread crumbs are a great option, as well, and very easy! For creamy toppings, try nonfat plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream or reduced-fat finely shredded cheese (the more finely it’s shredded, the less you’ll use). Avocados work great to add creaminess, as well, plus they are a fruit… BONUS! Also, fresh herbs such as basil or cilantro are always great to add as a final, flavorful touch to your favorite soup. Adding any veggies as toppings, not only add eye appeal, but also nutrition, of course!

     

    Below is my favorite soup recipe for this season!

    Squash and Fennel Soup with Candied Pumpkin Seeds

    Original Guilt-free Margarita and 4 more low calorie Margarita Recipes - www.cobornsblog.com

    Squash and Fennel Soup with Candied Pumpkin Seeds
    Author: 
    Serves: 4
     
    Ingredients
    • Ingredients for the Soup:
    • 2 pounds winter squash, such as butternut
    • 2 medium bulbs fennel (I reduced this amount due to personal preference)
    • 4 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds (I reduced this amount due to personal preference)
    • 4 tablespoons butter
    • 2 cups sliced onions
    • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
    • 2 dried red chiles de arbol, or a fat pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
    • 1 bay leaf
    • ¾ cup sherry
    • 8 cups water
    • ¼ cup Fat Free Greek Yogurt

    • Ingredients for the Pumpkin Seeds:
    • ½ cup raw pumpkin seeds
    • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin, or whole seeds ground
    • 1 tablespoon land o lakes light butter
    • 1 tablespoon sugar
    • Generous pinch each of cinnamon, paprika, and cayenne (small amount)
    • 1 teaspoon honey
    Instructions
    1. Heat the oven to 400°F. Peel and cut the squash into 1-inch wedges, discarding the peel and seeds. Peel and core the fennel and chop it up into equally-sized wedges. Drizzle with the olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper, and then roast until soft and caramelized, about 35 minutes.
    2. In the meantime, toast the fennel seeds in a dry skillet until fragrant, then grind or pulverize in a mortar and pestle. Heat the butter over medium-high heat in a heavy, large pot (like a Dutch oven) until it foams, then add the seeds, onion, thyme, chiles, bay leaf, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until the onions are soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.
    3. While the squash and fennel finish roasting, prepare the pumpkin seeds: melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat, then add the seeds, sugar, spices, and a pinch of salt. Toss well to coat the seeds and cook until they begin to pop and color slightly, moving them around the pan often. Remove from the heat, wait 30 seconds, then add the honey and toss quickly to coat. Spread on a plate to cool.
    4. Combine the contents of the roasting pan with the onion in the heavy pot and pour in the sherry. Allow to reduce for a few minutes, then add the water and bring it to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes. Transfer about a third of the solids to a blender (purée it in batches to ensure the perfect consistency) and add ½ cup or so of the liquid. Turn on at low speed until the solids are completely puréed, then add another ½ cup of broth and turn the speed to high, adding liquid little by little until the soup has the consistency of heavy cream. Blend for at least a full minute on high speed. Follow this process for the rest of the soup.
    5. Serve the soup with some Greek yogurt spooned in, and topped with scattered pumpkin seeds.

    Happy soup making! The weather outside may add a chill, but this is sure to take that away, Honestly speaking, would soup taste so good if it was warm out? Nope, that’s for sure, so be thankful for the cold weather… I guess, okay maybe not thankful – that’s a bit far – rather make the best of it.

    Peace and Wellness,

    Ashley
    Coborn’s Supermarket Dietitian

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