3 Ways To Use Overripe Fruit

As much as we might try, sometimes we cannot eat all our fresh fruit before they start getting a little overripe. Overripe fruit tends to not be as enjoyable as a standalone snack like simply ripe, fresh fruit is. However, this does not mean you have to throw out overripe fruit! In fact, you have a good window of time with overripe fruit before you do have to throw it away for health reasons. But what can you do with it during that time? Let’s examine three popular things now:

Baked Goods

Perhaps the most popular example here is using overripe bananas to bake some delicious banana bread.  Almost everyone knows about this particular trick. But did you know you can do something like this for just about all kinds of overripe fruit? You are not even limited to a dessert bread. You can make muffins, brownies, and a lot of other baked goods with your fruit. The overripe variety simply adds a little more flavour and ease of baking (softer fruit, easier to mash).

Savoury Sweet Sauce

Yes, you can make a good sauce with your fruit! For instance, a classic combination is apple sauce and pork chops—why not use overripe apples for this? You can pair lots of different meats with your fruit sauces (e.g. chicken with orange sauce). The choice is all yours! This is a great way to add a sweet flavour to savoury dishes—your results might surprise you.

Salad Dressing

Have you ever seen fruity salad dressings in your grocery store? If you haven’t, you likely just reached for your favourite without looking at what the options were. Fruity salad dressings are aplenty! All you need to make your own is the fruit, vinegar, olive oil, and a little bit of seasoning. Throw these ingredients in a blender to create your dressing. The seasoning you want will depend on what fruit you have. For instance, we might recommend trying basil with strawberries.

 

Make Your Own Pumpkin Spice Blend

The flavours of pumpkin pie are all the rage during the autumn months. You see everything from pumpkin spice lattes to pumpkin chai tea—even pumpkin spice Oreo cookies! IT seems as if pumpkin spice is everywhere as soon as fall hits.

But how do you get this spice? How do you bring the pumpkin into your home besides spending a fortune on the specialty products? Sure, you can buy prepackaged pumpkin pie spice if you want, but then you have no control! If you want to adjust the spices in your pumpkin pie (or anything else you want to add this flavour too) you have come to the right place!

Commercial pumpkin pie spice will vary based on the manufacturer, and thus so will your homemade blends. However, the common individuals spices you find in pumpkin pie spice are cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, allspice, ground cloves, and occasionally mace.

Making your own pumpkin pie spice allows you to bring out one of the specific spices more strongly, or eliminate one you really cannot stand if you so desire.

The fact that you have the control means there is not a hard and fast rule about how much of each spice you need in your pumpkin spice blend. However, our recommended basic recipe looks like this:

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground ginger

2 teaspoons nutmeg

1 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon mace (optional)

You can adjust these according to your taste and recipe requirements.

Even though buying a commercial pumpkin pie spice is convenient, making your own is not only far more economical, but also quite a bit more delicious. When you purchase all the individual spices you need there is some expense, but then you can mix your pumpkin spice regularly and even have some individuals spices left over, which you can then use in other recipes! With this and the taste in mind, you will never go back to commercial blends once you make your own pumpkin spice once!

3 Tips For Gluten-Free Eating

Do you have to eliminate gluten from your diet because of an allergy? Are you trying to improve your diet and have decided cutting back or eliminating gluten is a good place to start? Regardless of why you want to go gluten-free, it is very important to take gluten-free eating seriously. To that end, here are three tips for you to consider:

Read The Labels

When you are in the grocery store, it is important to read the labels on everything you buy. Sometimes it is clear what has gluten, but in some cases things may surprise you. Thus, especially if you are avoiding gluten because of an allergy, you should read the labels looking for references indicating the product may have even trace amounts of gluten.

Consult A Professional

Sometimes people make a lot of mistakes with their diet when they are trying to eat gluten-free. In many instances, they overload on the gluten-free versions of their favourite things (e.g. spaghetti). However, this is a big mistakes. We advise you to connect with a health professional who knows about the specific requirement people need each day with their diets and can help advise you on how to build your own gluten-free diet. They will help ensure your diet remains balanced, healthy, and that you are getting all of the vitamins and nutrients you need.

Experiment

Since you are gluten-free, there is a lot not available to you. There are, however, many options for gluten-free eating! Make a list of the foods you know do not contain gluten. When in doubt, experiment with new fruits and vegetables, along with any other new products you stumble across. Try something new each week to expand your palate. What you discover may actually surprise you in the end! Just be sure to keep the other tips we’ve discussed in this post so you can remain healthy with your gluten-free diet.

How To Make Jam

Have you ever purchased one of those jars of jam at the grocery store? Ever wondered if you would be able to make your own? The good news is you can! Some people think making jam is quite difficult, but the truth is making jam is quite easy to do! All you need is time and the tools. So here’s how:

Gather Your Supplies

The first thing you need to do in order to make jam is to have all of the necessary supplies. Sometimes the specifics will vary based on the exact jam you want to make, but in general you will need the following: a selection of canning jars, a large pot, a deep skillet, as well as the ingredients for the jam. A basic jam recipe includes lemon juice, sugar, pectin, and the fruit of choice (e.g. raspberries). The fruit can obviously change, but the other ingredients tend to remain the same.

Work With The Fruit

You need to cut the fruit into small pieces and put them into a large, hot skillet. Gently try crushing the fruit to help make smooth jam, and then add in your lemon juice. Once things have come to a rolling boil, you can add your sugar and pectin. The exact ratio of ingredients will depend on how much jam you want to make, as well as the specific brand of pectin (they will have their own recommended instructions).

Remember The Jars

Before you get ready to pour your jam into the jars, you need to make sure you have sterilized the jars and their lids. The easiest way to do this is to put the jars and lids into a large pot of boiling water. Generally, boil the jars for 15 minutes. Dry them off with a kitchen towel before spooning in your jam.

2 Tips For Canning Food

In addition to freezing food and reheating later, canning some of the ingredients you need is a great way of preserving them for later. You can save tomatoes for a sauce, turn cucumbers into pickles—almost anything you can think of, you can figure out how to can it! But how exactly do you can everything properly? We have two key tips here you need to consider when canning food, detailed below:

Sterilize Everything

When you have your Mason jars and other cans, you need to ensure you sterilize them very well—normally people will do this with boiling water. With this method, you need to wash all of the jars and lids in hot water and dish soap. Rinse thoroughly before placing the jars in a pot and covering them with hot water. Bring this water to a boil and keep the jars in the pot, covered, for 15 minutes after you start seeing steam. At this point, turn off the heat and let the jars stay in the hot water. Put the lids into another pot of boiling water and let them stand for five minutes.

Before you fill the jars with your chosen ingredients, you need to put them upside down on a kitchen towel to dry. You need to wait to do this because you should fill the jars while they are still hot.

Listen For The Pop

When you are sealing your jars, you need to make sure it is always done properly—it needs to be airtight every single time. If you don’t seal the jars properly, your food will actually spoil and your time canning will have been completely useless. So how do you know if you are canning your food well and the jars are sealed properly? It’s all in the pop!

You should hear the lid pop when you are closing up the jars. This happens when the contents cool and contract in the jar. You can test the seal after about 12 hours. The easiest way to tell is to press the middle of the lid with your finger—if it springs up when you release your finger, your jar isn’t sealed.

2 Ways To Prevent Freezer Burn

If you have frozen any food before, you will have likely encountered freezer burn at some point. While you can still consume food freezer burn has affected, since it does not mean bacteria has ruined it, the taste will not be what you want it to be. No, freezer burn negatively affects the overall quality of your food—so why risk it? Here are two ways you can help ensure your food remains at its peak condition in your freezer:

Use Proper Containers

The containers you use have a significant influence on how long your food can last in the freezer without encountering freezer burn. In terms of bags, for instance, you need to have actual freezer bags for the best results. You also need to consider how full you will make each container, regardless of whether it is a bag or a solid container. Limiting the empty space, the air, helps prevent the air from causing the freezer burn you hate. With liquids, you want a little extra space since the liquid will expand slightly as it freezes. With solids, however, you just want to fill up a container as much as possible.

In addition, you want to provide extra insulation if you will be storing things for a long period—so try wrapping aluminum foil around your freezer bags! Certain specific items will have their own tricks for preventing freezer burn through packaging as well—with baked good, for example, you want to wrap them in aluminum foil before putting them in a bag.

Cool Food First

The temperature of your food and how fast you cool it has a significant influence over how long you can prevent freezer burn from occurring. You actually want your food to be as cool as possible before putting it in the freezer. Thus, we recommend you put your portioned leftovers in the fridge for a couple hours before you place them into the freezer. The only exception to cooling in the fridge first is if you are trying to freeze things like uncooked chicken, fruit, et cetera. Anything you haven’t heated—especially stuff you were already storing in the freezer—is fine!

4 Tips For Freezing Food

On a busy day, nothing saves time more than pulling out a frozen meal you made before and simply reheating it to enjoy as fast as possible. You can also build up a stockpile of ingredients to make meals in the future. This is especially helpful on your wallet, since you can buy the products when they are on sale and don’t need to shell out the big bucks later on.

All of this means you need to freeze your food. However, sometimes this can go wrong. You might encounter freezer burn and other issues. So what can you do? Here are 4 tips for freezing food to help you out:

Separate Into Portions

If you follow the proper defrosting protocol, you can technically refreeze something if you don’t cook it. However, we do not advise this because its hard to be sure everything went perfectly, and freezing and defrosting multiple times can degrade the quality of the food. Thus, we recommend separating everything into portions. For instance, if you are just cooking for one, only put one chicken breast in a freezer bag. Portion a big meal like lasagna into the size you like to eat for one meal. This dramatically cuts down on food waste!

Write The Date

Make sure you write the date you froze your meal, ingredient, et cetera on the bag or other container. This helps you keep track of everything—even freezing your food won’t make it last forever! You will run into things like freezer burn if you leave food in there for too long. Spoilage can also be a concern, though this is a very long process. More often than not the ultimate freshness will be negatively affected. Dating everything ensures you regularly consume what you have stored.

Use Freezer Bags

Speaking of storing items in the freezer, we highly recommend using freezer bags instead of regular storage bags! Freezer bags are thicker and thus make your food last longer as well as reducing the chances of the food developing freezer burn.

Chill In Fridge First

Though you want to freeze your food quickly, do not put it straight into the freezer after you portion it if it is cooked. Instead, put your food in the fridge to cool first. Putting it in the freezer right away can make the freezer rise in temperature, which can make the other food in there defrost slightly, which can impact the growth of bacteria.

Why You Should Eat The Rainbow

Occasionally when you read about eating healthy, especially when the topic leans towards eating fruits and vegetables, you will hear the phrase “eat the rainbow.” This is a great practice to follow, but many people may not, at least initially, be aware of what exactly this means. Are you unsure? You have come to the right place!

Eat the rainbow refers to eating a variety of fruits and vegetables in a range of different colours, instead of limiting yourself tow only a couple of different ones. Thus, you might find yourself eating things like carrots, zucchini, strawberries, blueberries, and bananas instead of just strawberries and carrots.

So what exactly do you get out of eating this variety of fruits and vegetables? Why is it important for your body and health? The answer is simple:

Nutrients

The food you eat contains nutrients you need in order to survive. You need nutrients to help your body function! Different food contains different nutrients (both in the specific nutrients as well as the quantity). You might think you can get away with just eating the fruits you enjoy, such as strawberries, raspberries, and cherries, to get the nutrients your body needs. However, the colour of fruits and vegetables actually plays a role in what nutrients they contain. This means that, while you are getting nutrients from red fruit like strawberries, you are missing out on the iron and other nutrients you will find higher quantities of in green vegetables.

Eating one colour of fruits and vegetables is better than not eating any—but you are still missing out on all these other nutrients, which can put your health in a compromised position.

Happiness

Another secondary reason to eat the rainbow is happiness. Studies show eating from a plate bearing food in a variety of colours (e.g. a rainbow of colour) actually increases your happiness, at least while you are eating. Thus, fill your plate with bright reds, oranges, and yellows. Why not throw in some green in there too, to introduce the forest?

 

3 Differences Between Ice Cream And Frozen Yogurt

Cold desserts are incredibly popular, especially when the weather starts getting warmer. You have a lot to choose from, of course, but the two most popular are normally ice cream and frozen yogurt. So how do you choose between the two? Is there a difference? What are the differences? Let’s find out:

Nutritional Content

If you compare regular ice cream to regular frozen yogurt, you will notice that, on average, frozen yogurt has fewer calories and less fat. This can shift if you consider low fat ice cream options, but for the most part you will be consuming less if you eat frozen yogurt. Of course, frozen yogurt tends to have more protein than ice cream—but with that also comes more carbohydrates, on average. It is important to look at the labels of the specific products you buy in order to compare. The best comparison, of course, comes with examining within the same brand of products (especially the same flavours).

Amount Of Air

Yes, the amount of air plays a role in ice cream and frozen yogurt as well. Both of them contain some air, something that is often the result of the churning process. However, the major difference when it comes to ice cream and frozen yogurt is how ice cream has a limit on how much it has to weigh in order to qualify as ice cream. This requirement is 4.5 pounds per gallon. With this comes a limit on the amount of air allowed in the ice cream, since more air makes it lighter. There are no such regulations for frozen yogurt.

Ingredients

A lot of the differences between ice cream and frozen yogurt come down to the specific ingredients they include. The biggest shift between the two in ingredients is cream and cultured milk. Cream is, as you might guess, in ice cream. But frozen yogurt? The main dairy ingredient becomes cultured milk, which helps mimic the idea of regular yogurt, though the freezing process eliminates the bacteria. Of course you  can get the same mix-ins with both desserts, though you are far more likely to find fruit in frozen yogurt than in ice cream. You also tend to find more sugar in frozen yogurt in order to maintain the low fat properties.

3 Reasons Why You Should Never Grocery Shop Hungry

We’ve said it before and we will say it again: the golden rule of grocery shopping is to never, ever grocery shop hungry. It is always a recipe for disaster—often one you won’t see coming even if you make a promise before walking in the doors of the store. So why do we say this? Let’s review a few of the key reasons now:

Overindulging

Indulging in your favourite dessert or other comforting food on occasion is a good thing. You can, however, go over the line and overindulge. Walking into a grocery store with an empty stomach is priming you for buying all kinds of food not so healthy for you. In other words, when you grocery shop hungry you are setting yourself up for overindulging. This can easily ruin your diet or weight loss goals before you know it.

Overspending

Even if you make a list of things you need to buy when you grocery shop, going when you are hungry increases your chances of buying things not on your list—often the junk food, as we mentioned in the previous section. Unfortunately, buying things not on your list, even if you were going to be under budget with that list, opens the possibility of overspending. Stay on budget by eating a snack before you go, lessening the chances of you buying something that looks good simply because you are hungry.

Forgetfulness

Unfortunately, going grocery shopping while you are hungry also sets yourself up for forgetting to buy things you actually need, especially if you do not have a list or do not check it frequently while in the store. Your mind will just be focused on how you are hungry, and will want to steer you towards whatever looks good to eat right now, never mind what you actually need to buy for the week (or however long you happen to be buying for).