Some super creative recipes are coming out of the nation’s most popular restaurants – from Gitane’s stuffed dried plums with goat cheese and prosciutto with a citrus gastrique to Russian restaurant Mari Vanna’s beet salad with walnuts and dried plums, and back west to San Francisco’s Q in San Francisco, where they take dried plums with red verjus and purée them with red wine vinegar, salt and Dijon mustard in its crudité appetizer.
My all time favorite dried plum treat is prune hamentaschen (yup, I’m old enough to go by the original name), but as Thanksgiving is coming, I decided to share this recipe for plumkins from the California Dried Plums Culinary site. It only takes 20 minutes to prep and 10 minutes to cook, so you can bet I’ll be bringing these to our holiday dinner.
California Dried Plum purée:
1 1/3 cups (about 8 ounces) pitted dried plums 6 tablespoons hot water. In food processor, process dried plums and water until puréed.
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin purée
2/3 cup California Dried Plum purée
¾ cup + 1 Tbsp sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp orange zest
3 cups whole wheat flour
½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts
½ cup California Dried Plums, chopped
2 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp cloves
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix together pumpkin purée, dried plum purée, sugar, oil, vanilla, orange zest and eggs in a large bowl. Add in the remaining ingredients and mix well.
Place paper muffin cups muffin tins. Fill 2/3 of the way with batter. Bake 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Recipe created by Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, CSSD, LDN for the California Dried Plum Board.
Calories 35Total Fat 1.1gCarbohydrate 5.6gProtein 0.5gFiber 0.7g
As I’m particular about what goes in my body (it’s the only one I’ve got, and it has to last), I also care about the benefits. Eat my way to health?! Well, sure, something like that.
Research suggests that eating two servings, (about 100grams or 10 to 12 dried plums), may improve bone mineral density (BMD) and slow the rate of bone turnover in post-menopausal women. As a Boomer, that is definitely important to me.
Vitamin K helps improve calcium balance and promotes bone mineralization. A 40gram serving of dried plums (4-5 prunes; about 100 calories) is considered an excellent source of Vitamin K, which provides 30% of the 80mcg Daily Value.
Naturally cholesterol free (maybe that’s news to you), they also promote digestive health (which isn’t news to us Boomers, I imagine).
Emerging research suggests that dried plums support healthy bones, and may support heart health, digestive health, immunity and healthy aging. So don’t eat them if you want unhealthy aging. Exactly. Who would sign up for unhealthy aging?
Long a part of California’s agricultural history, dried plums are getting lots of great press lately because of the combination of taste and health benefits. You can learn even more (and get some sweet and savory recipes) by heading to the California Dried Plums site.
I shall now go try my new phrase on my son – “Don’t be a bumpkin. Bring me a plumkin.”
Yes, this is a sponsored post. Yes, I love dried plums. Yes, I jumped at the chance to partner with Vibrant Nation in this campaign for California Dried Plums. I did, however, receive a few bags of dried plums in the mail. No, I’m not sharing. I’m using them for my plumkins. Can you tell I like to say “plumkins?”
Now go over there ———————–> and subscribe to our twice-weekly posts. All great stuff for actively aging Boom-Chicka-Boomers.
Alexandra Williams, MA
“I am participating in a VIN campaign for California Dried Plums. I am receiving a fee for posting; however, the opinions expressed in this post are my own. I am in no way affiliated with California Dried Plums and do not earn a commission or percent of sales.”
Put on by the industry association for fitness professionals, it has grown over the years to offer options for enthusiasts too. Two in particular might appeal to you when making your 2016 plans for July.
Entrance is free, so that’s a super incentive right there. Several hundred companies, ranging from heavyweights Reebok, Merrithew/ Stott Pilates, TRX, General Mills, and Lorna Jane to smaller and newer companies such as Ahnu Footwear, Siggi’s Dairy, Lolé Fitness Apparel, LaBlast Dance Fitness, and Functional Aging Institute were offering samples, demonstrations, workouts and discounts to visitors.
No matter what your age, ability, fitness level, or health preferences, you could find something of interest. Just a few of the types of free workouts – indoor cycling, slacklining, Core Stix, interval training, walking, dance, suspension training, strength training, treadmills & cardio machines, Pilates, yoga, competitive events – are enough to get you thinking, “Wow, for the price of, um, ZERO, I can work out all day if I want.”
You can also shop for just about anything you need for fitness – clothing, shoes, apps, tech gear, equipment, healthy food, supplements, skin care, water in all kinds of forms (we saw dark brown mineral water that tasted just like clear water), education, pain relief, music. I’m wearing the Recon Jet glasses above from Intel.
Besides eating lots of free samples, I got a free functional fitness assessment. I didn’t do well, thanks to my knee that needs reconstruction, and my shoulder/ wrist injury, but at least I have additional information about ways I’m compensating. I also won free custom shoes from Reebok, and my sis won an Intel Basis Peak fitness/ sleep tracker. Other people won free spa weeks, a Schwinn indoor bike, mini-fridges, protein packs/ bars, clothing, music, training, books, and on and on and on.
Fitness Fanatics Day
You don’t have to be a fitness fanatic to sign up for this, because once you participate in just one of the workouts, you’ll become one – it’s that fun. Open to both convention attendees and the general public, Saturday was a full day of workouts lead by the fitness celebrities who created them: Jillian Michaels, Todd Durkin, Leslie Sansone, Beto Perez and Jeanette Jenkins.
I didn’t do the workouts, as I was covering them for IDEA Fitness Journal and didn’t have time, but I did stop in to all of them, and can tell you that the room was packed for all five sessions, and the exercisers were having the time of their lives.
If you’ve never enjoyed exercise, this “time of your life” concept will sound weird, but it just means you haven’t found the RIGHT exercise yet. I was really tapping my feet and wishing I could just stay in the “3 Mile Walk Concert With Leslie Sansone.” That was my favorite because it was easily accessible to nearly everyone. I saw people in there who represented typical Americans. This was not a class for the fit people; it was a class for the people. And since I’m a Boomer (with injuries) and I teach older adults (and university students), I am drawn to these inclusive kinds of workouts.
Next year the IDEA World Fitness Convention is back in Los Angeles July 13-17. Mark it in your calendar now. You’ll recognize me. I’ll be the one standing on the side of the room taking notes and tapping my feet. Except when the disco songs start. Then I set my stuff down and “help” the leaders show the youngsters how it’s done.
by Alexandra Williams, MA
Do you ever have people coming over for breakfast, have no idea what you want to bake, then just stare into the fridge for a while until an idea comes to mind?
That happened to me this morning. I knew I wanted to use the Almondmilk Hint of Honey Vanilla that Almond Breeze had sent me, but that was as far as I’d gotten. So I stared into the fridge. I did some expert rummaging about. Opened the cheese drawer, then the produce drawers. Moved stuff around a bit on the shelves in case … what … a fully cooked recipe jumped out? In any case, I finally noticed that I had a bag of apples in the crisper, so my brain went, “apples and almondmilk. Gotta be a breakfast recipe in there somewhere.”
And my brain was right. I ended up baking a super delicious apple cinnamon crumble. My brain even figured out a way to call it health food, as it also had oats. My brain is quite flexible in its decisions prior to breakfast. Or any meal.
What do you think of my twist on the basic crumble?
6-8 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 cup Almond Breeze Almondmilk Hint of Honey Vanilla
¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup brown sugar
¾ cup rolled oats
½ tsp salt
¾ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp allspice
7 Tbls softened butter
Put the peeled, cored and sliced apples into a shallow pan or dish and spread them out. Pour the almondmilk over the apples, and let them soak in it for about 15 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 375?
Blend the dry ingredients. Using a pastry blender (or rub in with your fingers), add in the butter until your mixture is crumbly.
Pour out any remaining liquid from the soaking apples, then spread them evenly into a lightly buttered 8 X 13-inch baking dish.
Sprinkle the crumb mixture over the apples, and bake for 25-30 minutes.
Don’t forget to put apples on the shopping list in case you just used up the whole bag (as I did).
by Alexandra Williams, MA
This post is sponsored by Almond Breeze Almondmilk.
Alexandra Williams, MA
These rolls are a great place to start if you’re new to using yeast. Or scissors!
I adapted a recipe found in “New Complete Book of Breads.”
1 egg, room temperature
¼ cup sugar
½ cup mashed potato or reconstituted potato flour
¾ cup milk, room temperature
1/3 cup unsalted butter
½ tsp salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
¾ oz (1 pkg) yeast
1 can Blue Diamond Honey Cinnamon Almonds
3 Tbs melted butter
cinnamon sugar for sprinkling on top
In a mixer, blend the egg and sugar. Add the potato, milk, softened butter, and salt. Mix together. Add 2 cups of the flour and the yeast, and mix for one minute. Gradually add the rest of the flour, using the dough hook (if you have one; otherwise by hand).
When the dough comes clean off the sides of the bowl (add flour if necessary) and forms a ball around the dough hook (about 5 minutes), cover the bowl and put in a warm place to rise until it’s doubled in size (45-90 minutes).
Once the dough has doubled, cut it in half and form into two 12-inch logs. Cut each log into 12 pieces, rolling each piece into an oval. Using kitchen shears, cut two ears into each roll. As you probably don’t want your bunnies to look like goblins, I recommend you blunt the pointy tips of the ears. Brush the rolls with the melted butter, cover with wax paper and leave them for a second rising until they’ve doubled (about 30 minutes).
While they’re rising, preheat the oven to 400º, then turn it down to 350º after you put the rolls in. Just before you put them into the oven, stick one almond into each bunny as a tail, then sprinkle the rolls with cinnamon sugar. Stick the almond tails in deep enough that they don’t come out during baking. A few of mine kind of squeezed partway out, which caused my boys to make quite a few NSFW jokes about the bunny butts. Bake 10-12 minutes. Makes 24 rolls.
This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds, which is a partnership I’m proud of.
Alexandra Williams, MA
Pssst – if you don’t live in California, read this anyway, as you can probably buy one of the 1.5 millions cases of Sustainability in Practice (SIP) wines near you, which might cheer you up about missing the event.
What is SIP?
When a winery achieves this certification, it means they are committed to practices that support workers and the environment, as well as contributing to cleaner processes. As we’re in a major drought in California, these vintners, ranchers and farmers are leading the way in trying to work with, not against, the land and weather, as no crops will be sustainable if we don’t do something now.
Every time you buy a SIP-certified bottle of wine, you are putting your money toward growers who share your (and my) preferences for sustainable practices. You are casting a vote to keep these vintners in business. By drinking wine! Can you say “win win?” If you’re into social media, you can even use the hashtag #ispySIP. And if you have no idea what a hashtag is, and wonder why I’m co-opting the pound sign, no worries – just ask your local shop if they carry SIP certified wines.
Besides me, who now wants to say, “I spy with my little eye…. wine?”
Earth Day Food & Wine Weekend
Let’s say you are somewhat close to Paso Robles in Central California and want to come to the event April 18th. Held at Castoro Cellars, it’s a food and wine experience that’s high class and low key. Heck, you can wear your flip flops and “I Love California” t-shirt while dancing to the Cali Funk tunes of Proxima Parada if you want. Guess where much of your admission money goes? To educational scholarships for relatives of farmworkers and Spanish education programs. Drink Well and Do Good should be their motto. But it’s not, because I just made it up.
For the record, this is not a sponsored post. They are giving me free admission, but I’m writing about this because one of the organizers is my friend and I know what a fun event it will be. For example, on their Facebook page, I just saw reference to locally grown onion, Gruyere, bacon quiches that will be at the event. Besides, they know the difference between “borne” and “born.” The editor in me is savoring this grammatical knowledge. You know, like a good glass of wine.
Photo credits: Earth Day Food and Wine
Alexandra Williams, MA
So when Almond Breeze Almondmilk contacted me about creating a recipe, the only question I had in my mind was “how will I ever whittle it down to just one recipe?” But I persevered and somehow managed (first world problem, eh).
I’m a vegetarian with a friendly attitude toward vegan ingredients, so this recipe is appropriate for almost anyone. Well, except my younger son, who has luckily outgrown his allergy to soy, yet still hates tofu. But it’s the rare teen who likes tofu anyway, I think. Try it and see if you enjoy this smoothie as much as I do. I usually drink my smoothie while driving, with a piece of multi-grain toast balanced precariously on top of my glass. My older son makes fun of me for this “mom habit.”
1 handful of ice cubes
4 ounces silken tofu
2 teaspoons agave syrup
2 tablespoons flax meal
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 ounces Almond Breeze Unsweetened Vanilla Almondmilk
Makes 2 shakes, though I tend to just drink some of it, then refill my glass before getting in the car to drive to work. That’s my polite way of saying I rarely share.
This post is sponsored by Almond Breeze Almondmilk, which is a perfect match to my mind.
Alexandra Williams, MA
Before you try to guess the five ingredients (well, three, since I mentioned two above), you’ll want some good nutrition news about the Flatout Bread ingredients. The two flatbreads that I tried at the breakfast (but didn’t use for this recipe) were Core 12 and Red Pepper Hummus, both of which are powered by chickpeas. The flatbread I used for this salmon recipe is full of navy beans. Yes, I want to break out singing the Village People song. All three flavors have 12 grams of protein and 8-10 grams of carbohydrates.
As I am currently studying for my Nutrition Specialist certification, I am also aware that these flatbreads have 0 trans fat, plus the macrominerals calcium, magnesium, and potassium, and the micromineral iron. I have had anemia in the past, so am always on the lookout for iron. As well, they are made from whole beans, which is a fiber and protein benefit for a non-meat eater like myself.
Okay, time for the recipe, and I really do hope you’ll try it. When I created this recipe I tried to choose only ingredients that added flavor and benefits.
Curried Salmon and Cantaloupe Protein UP Sea Salt and Crushed Black Pepper Wrap
First off, I chose the salt and pepper wrap (even though the red pepper hummus is my favorite) because it already had salt and pepper in it, so I didn’t need to add any to the recipe.
½ pound salmon
4 oz organic sour cream
¾ tsp red curry paste
6-7 fresh basil leaves, cut into pieces
½ cup cantaloupe, cubed into small pieces
Grill the salmon, then cut it into small pieces. While it’s cooking, mix the red curry paste and sour cream together in a small bowl. You may be tempted to add water to the curry paste, but resist, y’all, resist, as the cantaloupe has plenty of water and you will cry in frustration if your wraps become soggy. Add the unseasoned salmon to the curry mix and stir them together.
Lay out two Flatout Sea Salt and Crushed Black Pepper flatbreads on a cutting board, then spread the salmon mixture over them, covering the flatbreads fully. Then sprinkle the cut cantaloupe over the top, followed by the basil. Roll the flatbreads up tightly, starting at the long end, then cut into one-inch sections. That’s it. Eat them. One suggestion – be liberal with the basil, as this recipe is not as exciting without it.
Even though these three new ProteinUP flatbread flavors won’t be in stores for another month, you can try their other wraps and pizza crust using this .50 off coupon:
Then in a month you can return to get the Core 12, Red Pepper Hummus, and Sea Salt and Crushed Black Pepper and create your own flat, flatter, flattest, flatout love recipes.
This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of Flatout.
Alexandra Williams, MA
Special K sent us some brownies (how did they know I have a son who has chocolate brownies as his preferred food group?!), and I guess they have angels working in their chocolate department, because the brownies are named Divine Fudge and Heavenly Caramel. Whether their status is due to the fact that they have real cocoa in them, or are only 80 calories per brownie, I don’t know. I just know that they were a yummy afternoon snack and I didn’t feel guilty about eating one. And yes, it is possible to satiate the desire for a sweet treat with just one.
In 1908, when the chocolate bar was introduced, it was .6 ounces. By 2002, the smallest version of that chocolate bar was 1.6 ounces. In 1995, the average serving size for a brownie was 3.2 ounces. In the past twenty years, the typical brownie serving has doubled in size. But our bodies want us to live in the past. In other words, we can satisfy our chocolate cravings by eating a Special K brownie that goes back to 1908 by being only .7 ounces. The good news – no corsets involved.
I’m currently studying for my nutrition specialist certification, and know that the majority of the population will indulge in a sweet snack nearly every day. I also know that the majority of the U.S. population is weight-conscious. The 80 calorie Special K brownies might be the solution for you, just as they were for my son.
And if you’re expecting guests, you can put one on the pillow instead of a chocolate mint. About the same size; about the same calories, but without the melty mess. Not speaking from personal experience of course – cough, cough.
For further info about both the Heavenly Caramel and Divine Fudge, visit www.specialk.com, or find them on Facebook or Twitter. And of course, you can always just head to your local grocery store and check them out for yourself.
For further info about getting chocolate mint stains off a pillow, ask your mom. Don’t ask me – I wasn’t successful.
This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of Special K Brownies.
Alexandra Williams, MA
If you’re over 50, this book will bring back memories of holiday food; some good, some best left in the 70s (Consommé Noël made with turkey broth, beet liquid, onion juice and sherry anyone?).
The Swedish Tea Ring is easy to make, delicious, and popular. Basically it’s a gussied-up cinnamon roll.
1 ¾ to 2 cups flour
2 ½ Tbls sugar
1 packet (¼ oz) yeast
¾ tsp salt
¼ cup milk
2 Tbls water
2 Tbls butter
1 egg at room temperature
In a mixing bowl, combine half the flour, and the sugar, yeast and salt. In a saucepan, heat the milk, water and butter to 110º, then stir into the flour mixture, beating till smooth, then beat in the egg. Gradually add the remaining flour until the dough is stiff. You can then either use a dough hook or manually knead the dough until it’s smooth and elastic, about 8-10 minutes. Put it into a greased bowl, cover it and let it rise until doubled in size.
Swedish Tea Ring
2 Tbls softened butter
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tsps cinnamon
½ cup broken walnuts
½ cup raisins
Roll the dough into a 7 X 15 inch rectangle. Spread the butter over the dough, then sprinkle on the sugar, cinnamon, walnuts and raisins. From the long edge, roll up tightly, then shape into a ring on a parchment covered baking sheet with the sealed edge down. Tuck one end of the ring into the other, and pinch to seal. At 1-inch intervals, cut 2/3 of the way through the ring with scissors, twisting the cut sections slightly to separate. Cover and let rise until almost doubled in size. Bake at 375º for 20-25 minutes.
If you want to frost the ring, recipe is below. Also, my boys don’t like walnuts or raisins, so sometimes I’ll make two rings and leave those ingredients out of one. It still tastes perfectly delicious, though I prefer the regular recipe.
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
¾ tsp vanilla or lemon juice
1 Tbls water
1 Tbls heavy cream (you can do 2 Tbls water if you don’t have cream)
Spread over warm (not hot) Tea Ring. You can add candied cherries (which seem to have been the rage in the 70s), but I don’t, as they all get picked off and ditched on the plate by everyone I know anyway!
When I went away to college, I went on a junk food cereal binge for a while, just to find out what I’d been missing. That phase didn’t last long.
When my kids were born, one of them had food allergies, so I taught myself to cook from scratch. I’d been teaching group fitness for over ten years by then, so was very interested in learning as much as possible about food, nutrition, and realistic snack habits. Now I teach in the exercise studies department at a university, and have to help students learn to make food choices that are in their best interests and will help them reach their goals.
When I was asked to try out the new Special K® Chewy Snack Bars, I was all for it, as I like to find options for my students. Some snack bars are too big, too heavy feeling (especially during exercise) or too high in calories. The four new flavors – Berry Medley, Salted Caramel Chocolate, Salted Pretzel Chocolate, and Blueberry Bliss – are 100 kcals per bar, which is good. Generally speaking, we burn about 400 kcals per 45-minute cardio class, so the math sounds good to me.
I love oats, and am glad to see that the first ingredient for all four flavors is rolled oats. For my personal taste preferences, they are a bit too sweet, yet they are perfect for my university students. And it would seem that my boys (who are now college-aged) like them too, as several of the boxes are nearly empty. The two fruit flavored bars have a bit of real fruit in them, though I prefer the salty-sweet combination in the Salted Pretzel Chocolate bar.
Fall Quarter is now over, but by the time Winter Quarter starts, these bars will be available nationwide, as they will be officially out in January 2015. As I always carry a quick snack in my fitness bag for students who “forgot” to eat before class, the timing is just right.
This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of Special K Snack Bars.