“I think careful cooking is love, don’t you? The loveliest thing you can cook for someone who’s close to you is about as nice a valentine as you can give.” – Julia Child
Valentine’s Day Traditional Foods
How February 14 became associated with love remains unclear. Most Historians believe that it was a physician by the name of Valentine who started the frenzy of sending love cards on this day. Namely, the poor man fell in love with one of his patients, the daughter of an emperor. Before being executed because of his religious beliefs, he sent his beloved a note signed with “Your Valentine.”
And while cards are a must when it comes to this holiday, food doesn’t fall behind either. When we think of foods associated with Valentine, most of us immediately think of the most popular love food – chocolate. Chocolates became a common gift during the Victorian era when people were greatly inspired by medieval courtly love and chivalry. So, if you are looking for a chocolate recipe, you’ll find it difficult to select just one. Our suggestion is Chocolate Pots de Crème. Looks good and tastes divine.
Still, there are a few more traditional foods used to celebrate love and for each and every one of them, there is a logical explanation.
Wine. The feeling that one gets when enjoying a glass of wine is often compared to the feeling of being in love. Don’t forget to buy a high-quality wine to serve on this day. If you and your loved one don’t fancy that euphoric feeling wine creates, use it in recipes like the one for Creamy Pistachio Chicken. This dish is made with white wine which gives it incredible depth and flavor and the alcohol evaporates during the cooking process so there is no need to worry.
Strawberries are heart-shaped and red colored so it’s no wonder they were considered a symbol of Venus by the ancient Romans. Dip them in melted chocolate, or even better, incorporate them into an amazing recipe like the Strawberry Cream Cake.
Honey. As a symbol of love, bees were associated with Cupid during the Renaissance and are often depicted stinging Cupid, the god of love, in paintings. Honey is a symbol of procreation and contains boron, which provides energy boost and helps regulate testosterone and estrogen levels. This natural aphrodisiac can be incorporated in savory recipes, but it definitely works best in sweet ones, like Honey Fudge Parfaits.
Herbs. There are three herbs often associated with the day of love – lavender, basil, and rosemary. With its scent and beautiful purple color, lavender relaxes the senses. Basil is a traditional symbol of fertility and boosts sexual desire by increasing the heart rate and improving circulation, whereas rosemary has been associated with wedding ceremonies since the Middle Ages and is often incorporated in wedding bouquets. Use lavender and rosemary in a single delightfully fragranced and delicate recipe – Scented Cupcake Trio.
Valentine Breakfast in Bed
Valentine’s Day is a perfect way to show your love, but also a great excuse to eat chocolate for breakfast. If love and devotion do not offer a sufficient justification for such a guilty pleasure, here is a little extra: Chocolate is absolutely sensual, from its aroma to its taste, but it has also been known to cause a spike in dopamine, which induces feelings of pleasure. This fact makes chocolate a powerful aphrodisiac which is sure to get you in the mood for love.
In addition, chocolate is really good for you – it lowers the ‘bad’ cholesterol levels, boosts brain function, and acts as a powerful antioxidant.
So, why wait for dessert? Feel free to start the day in a decadent fashion.
The easiest option is to make chocolate pancakes. However, in order to capture some of the love that is in the air, cook these fluffy flapjacks in a heart-shaped mold.
The beauty about pancakes is their versatility and flexibility; for instance
- you can stack them on top of each other, adding vanilla frosting in between the pancakes and on top, to create a delicious cake;
- you can pour the batter into muffin tins to create cute chocolate muffins; or
- slice cooked pancakes and incorporate them in various trifles and parfaits that look absolutely tempting!
Another option is to add some red food coloring into the batter and prepare luscious red velvet pancakes. They make use of cocoa powder as well, but for additional chocolatey flavor, serve them with Nutella cream.
Here are some other chocolate morning options:
– Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie
– Triple Chocolate Banana Bread
– Pecan Chocolate Chip Maple French Toast Bake
– Chocolate Waffles a La Mode
– Dark Chocolate Granola + Valentine’s Twist
– Double Chocolate Oatmeal
Valentine’s Date Night Dinner
As Jay Leno once pointed out, men call this day ‘Extortion Day’. So, if your significant half doesn’t feel like putting on their fancy outfit and leave the comfort and safety of your home on a chilly night, why not stay at home and cook? This decision has another upside – your joint bank account will remain intact, allowing you to save some money for a romantic weekend getaway once the weather decides to improve a bit.
Invest your time and energy in really fancy dishes packed with aphrodisiac food that really spark the romance. By definition, an aphrodisiac is a food or drink that increases the sexual desire. Aphrodisiac foods reduce the stress levels, increase circulation, or affect neurotransmitters.
Do aphrodisiacs work? Try these 10 recipes with your baby and see if scientists are right:
#1 Chili Lime Tacos with Mango Salsa
Besides the passionate red color and the fiery taste, chili peppers stimulate endorphins which are responsible for good moods. Their hotness increases circulation and stimulates the nerve endings, making you feel more aroused.
This spicy dish can be served wrapped in tortillas or turned into a main dish salad by swapping the tortillas with romaine.
#2 Oyster Mushrooms, Garlic, and Green Onion Sautee
Besides being very easy to make, this recipe is also paleo and gluten-free. Oysters are one of the most well-known aphrodisiacs due to the fact that they are full of zinc and amino acids that support the production of sex hormones and increase the sex drive.
#3 Spicy Tuna and Avocado Sushi Bites
Avocado’ reputation as an aphrodisiac goes as far as the Aztec times. This silky and creamy fruit is filled with vitamin E, which helps the body produce sex hormones and stimulates vigor and energy levels.
#4 Creamy Chicken Alfredo Pasta with Bell Peppers, Asparagus, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Asparagus is rich in folate, which aids the production of dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitter, and histamine, which is released in the body during orgasm. In addition, this green veggie contains B vitamins which have been known to boost the libido.
#5 Saffron Shrimp and Peach Rice Bowls
Studies have confirmed that saffron increases the sexual performance. Moreover, this tasty spice is very healthy; it is packed with Vitamins B6 and C, as well as minerals like manganese, magnesium, potassium, and iron.
#6 Pesto Pizza with Pine Nuts and Feta
If you are not ready to give up great pizza even on days like this, that’s OK. You can simply upgrade it to a new tastier and sexier level.
Pine nuts abound in energizing zinc, which is essential for producing testosterone. They have been popular aphrodisiacs since the Middle Ages.
#7 Mushroom Gnocchi with Arugula and Walnut Pesto
Arugula is yet another libido-boosting food that has been used for a long time; to be more precise, since the first century A.D. This green leafy plant is packed with antioxidants that prevent negative effects of contaminants on your libido.
This recipe contains another aphrodisiac – walnuts, which contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids needed to boost the production of sex hormones.
#8 Asian Pan Seared Salmon Salad with Honey Sesame Dressing
Much like walnuts, salmon also contains omega-3 fatty acids that balance the hormones. Plus, it is combined with another powerful aphrodisiac in this recipe-honey.
#9 Spinach and Artichoke Quiche Cups
These tiny veggies come in handy to feed each other when you don’t have strawberries. Besides this convenient feature, artichokes contain antioxidants and vitamins needed for healthy blood circulation and overall health.
#10 Cashew Chicken Ding with Jicama, Celery and Red Bell Pepper
Celery is a crunchy, aromatic veggie that contains androstenol and androsterone, pheromones that are secreted by women and men when they sweat and serve to create sexual attraction. Consider replacing the cashews with another powerful attractant – almonds.
All of these amazing dishes can be complemented with libido-boosting spices, herbs, and add-ins such as:
– Olive oil
Valentine Lovable Desserts
No meal is complete without a dessert! Whether you are inspired by the infamous food scene in “9 ½ Weeks” or just want to share a tasty sweet treat, ask your boo to join you in the kitchen and prepare these delicious aphrodisiac-packed recipes together.
#1 Banana Pudding
It’s not just the phallic shape! Bananas also contain bromelain, an enzyme which boosts testosterone production, as well as vitamin B and potassium that increase the energy levels. This recipe also contains whipped cream…in case you want to recreate the above-mentioned movie scene.
#2 Mexican Coffee Ice Cream Pie
In addition to caffeine, which increases the heart rate and makes the blood flow, this recipe contains two additional feel-good ingredients – cinnamon, which heats up the body and normalizes the blood sugar levels, and vanilla, which stimulates the nerves, thus enhancing your sexual drive.
#3 Gingerbread Cookie Dough Truffles
Ginger is very similar to chili peppers in boosting the blood flow and body temperature. This fact was well known by French courtesans in the past, who gave ginger to their lovers to boost their pleasure and desire. The recipe also contains nutmeg, a spice that has been used as a libido-booster in Hindu cultures for centuries.
If you need a little something to boost your confidence and liven up the atmosphere, prepare these hot cocktails. Remember, consume in moderation – you don’t want to end up to stewed for love.
Watermelon White Sangria
Believe it or not, watermelon is said to have a ‘Viagra’ effect on the body! This is due to the high content of lycopene which relaxes the blood vessels and improves blood flow, which causes you to feel aroused very quickly.
Pomegranate and Orange Champagne Punch
Pomegranate is a powerful antioxidant which supports circulation. Studies have shown that these red gems also help with erectile dysfunction.
We hope that you have found a recipe that sparked your interest. All you need to do is find the perfect scented candles and create a sexy playlist.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
The Super Bowl Sunday is just around the corner and it has gained a reputation of a holiday. The fact that both football fans and those not so keen on sports are thrilled for the Big Game only goes to show how important the National Football League is to Americans.
And what is even more important? Well, one would say the good company and the positive vibes are what matter the most, but we say it’s OK to admit that it is the FOOD we love these gatherings for.
The Ultimate Nachos Recipe
On the very top of our Game Night’s list of favorite foods is a snack food dish that has captivated people from all around the world ever since 1943. The year when Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya created the very first version that included corn tortillas topped with jalapeño peppers, and cheddar cheese.
The Ultimate Nachos Recipe is everything you ever wanted: crunchy, cheesy and slightly spicy. Not to mention that The Great American Recipes managed to pay homage to the very first Nacho recipe (with the corn chips, cheddar and jalapeños) while still keeping the innovative spirit on, by improving it.
How did they manage to do this?
By simply adding a few more ingredients that are both inexpensive and give this snack a whole new dimension. It is amazing how much something as simple as half a pound of ground beef can do when it comes to recipes like this. Your nachos will easily turn from a snack dish to a proper meal dish, and a very tasty one, too.
Be careful with the layering of the chips and the ingredients, though, people tend to take nachos recipes lightly and then nag when they end up with stuck-together chips.
If you follow the step-by-step instructions, though, your nachos will be the best nachos anyone has ever tasted.
Serve these tasty nachos with some sour cream and a salsa sauce. We recommend trying the Peach Mango Salsa.
The Ultimate Super Bowl Nachos Tip:
Since this February 5th the Atlanta Falcons and The New England Patriots will be the teams playing in the Super Bowl LI, why not get some colored restaurant style tortillas and put them on two separate plates.
Arrange one plate with red and blue tortilla chips, since the colors of the “Flying Elvis” are red and blue to represent the Patriots, and arrange the second plate with black and red ones, to represent the Birds’ logo.
Look at it this way: Even if your team doesn’t go home with The Vince Lombardi Trophy, at least you will have the title The Ultimate Nachos Master, so that’s ok.
Super Bowl and Food in Numbers
Nachos is not the only food that football fans love. Super Bowl Sunday ranks second in food consumption in the States, right after Thanksgiving.
The National Chicken Council reports that people across the country will consume more than 1.33 billion chicken wings while watching the game on Sunday, which is 2% more than last year. Chicken wings are by far the most devoured Super Bowl food. Four out of the five most ordered foods during 2016’s Super Bowl chicken wing varieties, namely:
- – Smoked wings
- – Buffalo wings
- – Barbeque wings
- – Boneless wings
Want more crazy Super Bowl Food numbers? This year, Americans will test their endurance by eating:
- – 120 million pounds of avocados
- – 29 million pounds of chips
- – 3.8 million pounds of popcorn
- – 2.5 million pounds of nuts
- – 4 million pizzas
In addition, they will drink a whopping 325.5 million gallons of cold and foamy beer.
The explanation for these insane numbers, at least partially, lies in – superstition. Besides holding on to their team’s lucky jersey, fiery football fans believe they help their team by ordering and eating ‘lucky foods’.
In Boston, the home of New England Patriots, the Indian spinach, and cheese dish called Saag paneer is considered the luckiest, whereas football fans in Atlanta, the hometown of the Falcons, place their hopes in chicken variations – chicken noodle soup and chicken salad. They also share their belief in Saag paneer with Bostoners, which ranked third in their city, according to the largest national online ordering database, Grubhub.
The other part of the answer to the question ‘Why Americans eat so much during Super Bowl?’ is… Well, Super Bowl is a major event and often a reason for throwing a party for family and friends.
Super Bowl Party Food Guaranteed to Score
No Super Bowl party would be complete without two things – football and food. The first part is planned and organized by the NFL, whereas the menu is up to you. And with so many fatty, flavored, delicious choices like the above-mentioned nachos, chicken wings, guacamole, pizzas, and sandwiches it is simply impossible to go wrong.
However, viewers seem to prefer certain foods over others. Knowing the ultimate Super Bowl Super Snacks will help you plan the perfect menu and the throw a party to remember. Here is a list of the 9 most popular Super Bowl foods besides nachos, which is ranked no.4.
What else would be number 1? Pizzerias work like crazy on Super Bowl Sunday, preparing for the busiest take-out day. To avoid the crowded pizza places and waiting for hours for delivery, make your own decadent version at home. I recommend the Tortilla Pepperoni Pizza.
This classic comfort food is favorite in three American states: Delaware, Minnesota, and Missouri. It’s no surprise, given the fact that chili can be adjusted to anyone’s taste – from vegetarian to protein-packed variations.
- Chicken Wings
We have already mentioned how popular chicken wings are on Super Bowl day. This food is favored in Nebraska and Washington. Why wouldn’t it be? Juicy, crunchy, and very easy to make, chicken wings can be prepared in countless varieties, from classic Buffalo to exotic fruity and sticky.
The classic Buffalo chicken dip is most popular Virginia and Wisconsin. Tennessee is a fan of the Buffalo Chicken Appetizers, whereas Utah and South Dakota like chicken casseroles.
Actually, nachos is number four on the list of most beloved Super Bowl foods, but since it was talked about elaborately earlier, here we will suggest preparing the most popular super Bowl food in Ohio – Pulled Pork Pita Nachos combined with guacamole. This creamy, fresh Mexican dip is the reason why football fans will consume millions of avocados on Sunday.
- Pulled Pork
Besides in Ohio, pulled pork is also the most popular Super Bowl food in Indiana. In addition to representing one of the American cuisine staples, barbecue meat, pulled pork sandwiches are very easy to prepare at home and flavor up to your taste.
- Devilled Eggs
Devilishly easy and delightfully zesty, all you need to make these stuffed eggs is mustard, mayonnaise, and seasoning that consists of ranch dressing, green onions, and minced chili peppers.
- Pigs in a Blanket
Make sure you prepare this dish if your party involves kids. Made with a hot dog rolled into a crescent dough, these miniature favorites are one of the easiest recipes to prepare – roll up a hot dog in store-bought dough, place into the oven, and dip in mustard or ketchup. If you have leftover pigs, put them in your kids’ lunch box on Monday.
- Jalapeño Poppers
These creamy and spicy poppers are loved in New Mexico, New York, and North Dakota. Deep-fried jalapeño poppers will take some time to be prepared, but once they are done, your eyes will pop open with delight. And they will be gone in no time.
- Potato Skins
This easy and simple dish unites all the ingredients that football fans love: bacon, melty cheese, and sour cream, complemented with rich and zesty seasonings.
Although we favor the Ultimate Nachos, all of the above-mentioned recipes (check out the video) are more than suitable to make Game night unforgettable.
America is defined by versatility. Be it its nature that goes from ragged to lush, its people that come from all around the world, or the many cuisines that were brought by them, diversity is what makes America great! This is why we are revealing the tales of how some of America’s most famous foods came to be.
This traditional American breakfast dish, consisting of two halves of an English muffin, each one topped with poached eggs and (Canadian) bacon, and covered with hollandaise sauce is still a staple in American households as well as luxurious restaurants.
When it comes to the origins of this dish, there have been many variations of the story, but here we offer you the most interesting one.
In 1984, the Waldorf Hotel at Fifth Avenue and 33rd Street was visited by a flamboyant, and slightly hangover stockbroker named Lemuel Benedict. Although we don’t specifically know whether he frequented the restaurant, one thing that is certain is, on this historic date he placed his breakfast order and it was as follows: two poached eggs, buttered toast, bacon, and a pitcher of hollandaise sauce.
As luck would have it, this momentous order was witnessed by Oscar Tschirky, more famous as Oscar of the Waldorf, the then maître d’hôtel, who decided that this dish was worthy of being put on the hotel’s menu. As we know from what we today call Eggs Benedict, he substituted the toast with an English muffin and secured Eggs Benedict a place in history.
If you thought that the dice-resembling pieces of sautéed or re-baked bread, also known as croutons, had anything to do with Julius Caesar’s “Alea iachta est” (The die is cast) and it is how this salad got its name then you are very wrong!
Although it was invented by an Italian man called Caesar Cardini, the salad was actually invented in Mexico. Who would have thought, right? The story traces back to a Fourth of July weekend in 1924, when in lack of supplies, the resourceful restaurateur threw together whole lettuce leaves, coddled eggs, Italian olive oil, topped everything with parmesan cheese and dressed with Worchester sauce. This concoction soon became one of the most sought for salads that made its way to America.
Boston Cream Pie
Regardless of whether you are a New Englander, live in Massachusetts (where the Boston Cream Pie was proclaimed the official State Dessert in 1996), or come from the Pacific Northwest, you are bound to love this “hybrid dessert”.
Actually, it is the name of this dessert that people cannot wrap their heads around, because clearly, this pie is in fact, a cake! The reason behind this is simple: the two-layer yellow cake, filled with cream or custard, and topped with chocolate glaze, was first prepared in pie tins, which were much more popular than cake tins in that period, hence the name.
As to its origin, the very first appearance of the Boston Cream Pie can be traced down to 1856, in The Parker House Hotel (now the Omni Parker House Hotel), where their French chef, Sanzian, hired for the opening of the hotel, prepared the very first Boston Cream Pie. (At the time known as Parker House Chocolate Cream Pie).
This American grilled sandwich consists of corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and Russian dressing, placed on rye bread. And while its deliciousness and popularity are certain, the story of how it came to be is not that straight forward.
There are many legends surrounding the creation of the Reuben Sandwich, but there are two that can be considered as the soundest ones. We will let you be the judge of which one is more likely to be true, but we are going to give them both the same attention.
According to the first story, told by Patricia B. Taylor, the daughter of the late Arnold Reuben, the founder of Reuben’s Restaurant and Delicatessen, it is her father that we should thank for the existence of this scrumptious sandwich. The scene is set in 1914, when an actress, Annette Seelos entered the restaurant and ordered a sandwich that will be enough to satiate her hunger. Reuben took a loaf of rye bread and stuffed it with sliced Virginia ham, roasted turkey, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese. The funny part is, we could have been ordering an “Annette Seelos Special”, instead of a Reuben Sandwich, if it came down to the actress’ wish.
The second story doesn’t include actresses, but is equally as interesting because it involves poker! A voracious poker player and wholesale grocer by the name of Reuben Kolakofsky loved fixing sandwiches for the poker group games that took place weekly sometime between 1920 and 1935 in the Blackstone Hotel in Omaha, Nebraska. One of the fellow players, Schimmel, the hotel’s owner paid homage to his friend by putting the Reuben Sandwich on the hotel menu.
This now American classic traces its root down to the fourth or fifth century AD. It was in a Roman cookbook that the recipe for patties made of chopped meat, bread, peanuts, and wine was first introduced. But, meatloaf, as we now know it, first came to be in America in the 1800s, when the invention of the meat grinder spurred manufacturers to be inventive in order to sell their product. And then, in the 1930s, the Depression set in, and meatloaf gained in popularity due to the fact that people were able to put as many add-ins as they could think of and reduce the amount of the expensive meat. This went so far as to inventing the now known “vegetarian meatloaf”, or the meat-free meatloaf in the 1940s when World War II was in its full swing. In the aftermath of the war, that is in the ’50s and ’60s many new takes on meatloaf came to be and its re-invention is still ongoing.
While on the topic of dishes that were introduced or popularized during the Great Depression, this American staple cannot go unmentioned. This quintessential American dessert/breakfast came to be as a result of people’s resourcefulness and their unwillingness to throw food (in this case ripe bananas) away. Of course, the recipe has been upgraded ever since, resulting in varieties like the Triple Chocolate Banana Bread, or even Reese’s Banana Bread.
You can find amazing banana bread recipes in our collection!
Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich
If the fact that “the average American will have eaten 1,500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches by the time they graduate high school” isn’t enough of a proof that this sandwich is a total hit among Americans, then nothing is!
The first mention of peanut butter paired with jelly in the United States was in 1901 in the Boston Cooking-School Magazine of Culinary Science and Domestic Economics.
But, although this is the first mention of them being paired, there were no advertisements or mentions of a sandwich before the 1940s. This, in turn, means that PB&J wasn’t popular by then. Many assign the increased popularity of PB&J to returning GIs, who depended on the peanut butter and jelly combination during WWII. One thing is for certain, a postwar hit, or not, PB&J will be America’s favorite for centuries to come!
We hope that you found this to be an interesting read and that it made you more appreciative of the foods and dishes we tend to take for granted, and whose existence oftentimes is connected to the hardships our land had to go through to become what it is today.
The mood on New Year’s Eve is festive and playful, so if you are hosting the party – keep it simple. You don’t need to plan menus ahead and cook all day, nor take out your expensive China to set the table. Because who has time to sit down and dine when they’re partying all night long?
Look at it as a fun and relaxed get-together of family and friends who will almost certainly expect a bowl of punch to liven things up a little bit. A buffet table should be the central part of your party. However, even though New Year’s Eve is much simpler to host than a lavish three course Christmas dinner, you still have some work to do.
Follow these ideas to compile a lively and diverse menu, as well as a few simple and effective decoration solutions. Pour yourself a glass of wine and put on some music to make the process fun and festive. Don’t worry, you will be done in no time!
Set the Tone and Decorate
Set the tone of the party in your invitation. You can either buy ready-made invitation cards or be creative and make them yourself (download a template, cut, glue). That is, if you are skilled enough. If not, you can always be cool and invite your guests via e-mail. Instruct them to wear something casual with a bit of spark and come over for a glass of punch.
A New Year’s Party certainly calls for decorations. Keep in mind that the table will be filled with punch bowls, glasses, trays, and plates. Also, your food can serve as decoration itself. Consider preparing some muffins and decorate them as reindeer or Santas or threading grapes onto skewers, and place them in tall Champagne glasses (filled with Champagne, of course).
If you want a centerpiece, use your party favors! Place a bunch of noisemakers, together with plain glasses or jars filled with colorful party blowers, on a cake stand and surround with tinsel. You can also choose party hats, as well as jars filled with confetti for this centerpiece. At the stroke of midnight, they will be used for their original purpose Don’t forget to fill the room with balloons. Simple and effective.
Welcome the new year in style by serving fruity champagne drinks, colorful punches, and fun cocktails. Here are some suggestions you can find on our website and app:
Fruity champagne drinks
The bubbly wine you use for cocktails does not need to be the expensive type. The fizziness is what you’re going for, and it does not depend on the brand.
- Champagne Cosmos (Champagne, cranberry juice, orange-flavored liqueur, lime juice and zest)
- Strawberry Champagne Jello Shots (Champagne, strawberry jello, gelatin)
- White Grape and Champagne Granita (Champagne, green grapes, lemon juice, and sugar)
You can use the champagne for the punches or try stronger mixes.
- Pomegranate and Orange Champagne Punch (pomegranate, orange, orange-flavored liqueur, champagne)
- Paradise Punch (whiskey, vodka, Amaretto, ginger ale, pineapple juice, orange juice, grenadine)
- Whiskey Sour Punch (bourbon, orange-flavored liqueur, orange juice, lemon juice, sugar, sparkling water)
Don’t forget to add a non-alcoholic punch bowl for those who avoid booze and for those who will need to “chill” with something lighter in between two glasses of alcoholic drinks. This one is especially important if your party involves people who have and will bring their kids. In that case, it is best to set a separate kids buffet.
- Cranberry Raspberry Punch (frozen lemonade, cranberry juice, raspberry sorbet, orange juice, ginger ale)
- Peppermint Punch (eggnog, peppermint ice cream, ginger ale, candy cane).
- Lemon-Lime Hulk Party Punch (lemon-lime soda, lime sherbet, and fresh limes)
- Watermelon Limeade (watermelon, lime, rum, sugar, club soda)
- Sparkling Paloma Cocktails (grapefruit juice, lime juice, tequila, agave syrup, sparkling water, fresh thyme)
- Prickly Lady Cocktail (mescal, ginger liqueur, pear juice, lime, lime juice, powdered sugar)
To save you some time and trouble, arrange the ingredients needed for each cocktail, together with ice, straws, and all the necessary additions, and let your guests find their own ideal mixture. Give them a hand by writing the above-listed recipes on Christmas cards or holiday stationary. To ensure that these cocktail recipes won’t get lost somewhere in the middle of the party, stick them onto the bowls or saw them directly onto the tablecloth.
You can also use the cards and stationary to write thank you notes and give them away together with some easy homemade gifts (more on that later). Or encourage your guests to write their New Year’s wishes anonymously and place them on the Christmas tree.
Appetizers and Hors d’ Oeuvres
Partying requires food, so even though there won’t be a classic three-course menu, you still need to have plenty of food in the form of appetizers and hors d’ oeuvres. If you are hosting a big party that involves a lot of people, ask each guest to bring a drink and plate of appetizers to fill up the buffet (state this in your invitation).
As for the rest, stick with this golden rule: no kneading. Appetizers that involve dough may be tasty, but they take plenty of time to be prepared. Choose recipes that require minimum work and minimum mess to reduce the level of stress!
The easiest are the appetizers that involve a simple arrangement of pieces of food on skewers.
- Assorted Skewed Party Appetizers
Mozzarella balls, tuna, roasted bell peppers, marinated artichoke hearts, olives, cherry tomatoes, only arrange and serve.
Or in glasses, like this one:
- Glass Appetizers in Blue Cheese Sauce
Pear and asparagus slices (grilled) in a cheese, milk, and nutmeg sauce.
Another quick and easy option are these no-baking appetizers
– Cheddar Carrot Balls
Cream cheese, cheddar cheese, onion, garlic, and carrot, shaped into small balls and chilled.
However, baking can be quite simple, and this recipe is a proof
- Zucchini and Ricotta Crostini
Small savory toasts topped with three types of melty cheese and veggies
Fry and stuff
Stuffing is also fast and easy, especially if you make it with only a few ingredients.
Large mushrooms filled with a mixture of seasoned bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and fresh parsley.
Use the same stuffing to fill bell peppers, potatoes, squash, or tomatoes.
You can even stuff hard-boiled eggs cut in two, yolk removed. Prepare the filling using the removed yolks, mixed with crumbled fried bacon, mayonnaise, mustard, and paprika.
- Nuwave Any-Tizer Deviled Eggs
If you are looking for a meaty addition, try these skewers with an Asian twist obtained by complementing the meat with soy sauce, pineapple juice, sesame, and ginger. Bake on a metal rack at 400 degrees F.
A great dessert not only serves as effective decoration, but it also raises the blood sugar levels and gives you enough energy to last until the end of the party!
Play smart and prepare several different treats using only one recipe – standard pancake batter. Make a larger dosage of the recipe and divide it into three batches. This time, to make this sweet delight more festive and fluffier, add 1 1/3 cup of Champagne. In case you have kids at your party, don’t worry. The alcohol will evaporate in the process of cooking.
Cook the first two batches the usual way. Use the first ready batch to form a cake, by arranging the pancakes on top of each other. Use a vanilla frosting as a glue between the pancakes, as well as to frost the whole “cake”. Decorate with candy canes on top (whole and crushed).
The other batch will be sliced into small pieces and used to prepare trifles. Start with a layer of pancake pieces, followed by a layer of vanilla custard, and a layer of fruits, preferably berries because of their beautiful red color. Finish with whipped cream and some red and green sprinkles on top.
Pour the third batch of pancake batter into muffin tins and bake in the oven. Choose an easy decoration. For example, you can cover each muffin with whipped cream and top with a strawberry to create muffin Santas.
This trick for using a single recipe to produce muffins, cookies, cakes, and other sweet delights also works with banana bread batter. Simply covering the loaf in thick frosting will turn it into a decadent cake.
Another easy dessert is the homemade chocolate fondue, that can serve as a sweet dip. Make it in a brown and white variation, chocolate chips, heavy cream, vanilla and a pinch of salt.
Good Luck Gifts
You can also use the pancake muffins as “thank you” gifts. Just arrange a few of them in a cardboard box, tie a ribbon and attach a Christmas card with your best wishes.
Another idea is to pour some of the banana bread batter into mason jars (half-way full) and place them in the oven to bake. Let them cool, cover with the lids, then decorate with ribbons and “best wishes” tags.
But since this is a celebration of all the good things yet to come, and everyone is full of hopes, instead of handing out classic “thank you” gifts to your guests on their way home, prepare “good luck” gifts.
For this purpose, fill mason jars with foods that symbolize good fortune and prosperous year. In the US South, people eat black-eyed peas on this day as a symbol of humility and prosperity. Lentils are a symbol of good luck in Italy, whereas the Greeks smash and eat pomegranate seeds on this night. The Spanish and Portuguese opt for grapes. Decorate each jar with a ribbon and attach a card with handwritten cooking instructions. Here are some examples:
- Smoky Black-Eyed Pea and Sausage Soup
- Thai Basil Coconut Lentils
- Egyptian Pomegranate, Walnut, and Red Pepper Puree
- Steak Salad with Grapes
2016 was a very interesting year when it comes to food. People’s interest about healthy, functional foods was on the rise, which made turmeric the most popular ingredient of 2016! They also consumed some unusual (even weird) foods and regularly posted them online. Was your Instagram feed flooded with rainbow foods or ube cakes? This fact probably makes posting foods online a hot food trend that is here to stay for many more years. Sorry haters!
Healthy Functional Food
This year more than ever, people have been turning to food for its medicinal benefits. They have been trying to incorporate healthy ingredients in their everyday diet, eliminate the less nutritive ones, and often search the Internet for information. Internet has changed the way our meals look and taste significantly in the last decade. Vegetarian, vegan, paleo, gluten-free, sugar-free, organic…young people are very aware of the food they consume and they insist on it being good for them.
When it comes to healthy foods, one phrase summarizes the world’s mood: the dreaded kale has lost its domination!
Turmeric, the magical spice believed to cure everything from depression to cancer, is the absolute winner amongst the health-beneficial foods. In its 2016 Food Report based on search data, Google calls turmeric a “rising star” with “searches growing 300% over the last five years”.
Once people discover what to eat, next step is to search for how to eat it. Surprisingly, the peppery-tasting turmeric is a food that can be incorporated in all sorts of recipes, from drinks, smoothies, and desserts, to soups and meat dishes. The amazing Honey Turmeric Chicken is just one example on how turmeric can enrich your meals!
Turmeric is followed by ingredients like apple cider vinegar, jackfruit, manuka honey, and kefir, to mention only a few. There is yet another ingredient that pushed its way into many homes– coconut.
Praised as a superfood and strongly supported by the anti-dairy/vegan eaters, coconut became a part of many dishes in various forms: coconut water, milk, flour, oil, and coffee creamer. One of the reasons coconut was so popular in 2016 is its extraordinary flavor that gives dishes a certain exotic note. Try the Thai Curry-Coconut Meatballs recipe to see how it works with meat.
Besides healthiness and deliciousness, coconut, especially coconut oil, is appreciated for its cosmetic effects. It can be used as a skin moisturizer, wrinkle reducer, anti-cellulite and anti-stretchmarks cream, mouthwash, deodorant, and more!
Weird Colorful Foods
Foods with weird names took the world by storm. Most of these trends are actually quite simple, they only sound unusual: the Hawaiian poke and spam, raclette, raindrop cake, elevated toast…
In the sea of the so-called “hipster” food trends that exploded in 2016, there are two prominent sub-trends: purple foods and rainbow foods.
Purple bread was announced as the “amazing new superfood”. Although it is not on the market yet, this wonder-food invented at the National University of Singapore promises to be a real hit due to its amazing nutritional profile. It is packed with antioxidants, particularly anthocyanin from black rice, which gives the bread its vibrant hue and its healthiness. It is also digested slower than white bread, which can result in less weight gain.
Purple yam is a tubular root popular in the Philippines where it is called ube. The sweet taste makes it perfect for desserts, as well as a flavoring for ice cream, milk, tarts, cookies, and cakes. Its intensely purple color makes it a perfect natural substitute for purple food coloring. There is a great recipe for a Filipino cake made with ube and macapuno (coconut preserves). To capture the amazing taste in a simpler way, prepare a coconut cake and cover it with ube icing.
The cosmic galaxy effect appeared everywhere this year, so much so it was called “a culinary nightmare”. All you need in order to make your sweet treats look out-of-this-world is gel food coloring in black, blue, pink and purple, as well as some edible glitter. You can be sure your kids will love it every time you prepare it!
Rainbows seemed like waiting around every corner, especially during the spring and summer period. Some creative moms might have applied rainbow colors on pancakes, but this year they popped up in bagels, coffee, and even sushi. Many critics to this trend said that rainbow foods actually don’t taste as great as they look and their sole purpose is to serve as attractive ‘grams.
Another take on rainbows was the fairy bread. Before you start imagining all sorts of fantastic delights, you should know that the actual recipe does not live up to its name. It is in fact just an ordinary white bread topped with sprinkles. This sweet treat originates from Australia, where it has been served as a snack for kids at tea time, and this year it exploded all over the Internet. Sprinkles were also seen on other sweets, like the fancy chocolate bars and the overloaded desserts.
Tasting the World Through Food
Chamoy, ramen, japchae, bibimbap, wonton – these are all trending exotic foods, with pho being the #1 most searched one! Pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup made with chicken or beef, broth, rice noodles, and herbs. Whether cooking or eating out, people turn to exotic food as means to experience new cultures. Many foods that were considered exotic a few years ago, like the sriracha hot sauce or the kimchi mayo, are now part of our everyday diet and step aside to give way to newer, more unusual tastes.
Filipino cuisine blends the influences from several different Asian cuisines: Malaysian, Indonesian, Chinese, and Japanese, together with the Spanish and American, in funky dishes like pork buns, stir-fried noodles (pancit), braised pork or chicken (adobo) that abound in coconut and vinegar flavors, and desserts like the above mentioned ube cake or halo-halo (a mix of sweet beans, coconut, sticky rice, ube, and sweet sauces). The best thing is that you can easily find which restaurants serve them or have them delivered at affordable prices.
Food Movement That Calls for Action
The trend in question is not an actual food, but rather a food-related movement set in motion mainly by the millennials. The millennials are all about “changing the world by changing yourself first”. Their goal is to be healthy, wise, and environmentally-friendly eaters and the fact that they are the most active Internet users gives them a power to impose their ideas on the masses.
The last of the three “eating commandments” yielded the no-waste trend. The fact that 70 billion pounds of food go to waste each year in the modernized, Western countries, while other parts of the world are starving, startled the community and spread like fire. Professional and amateur cooks all over the world supported the trend with no-waste cooking, preparing delicious meals made of food waste! This trend reached its peak when certain restaurants started serving dishes made of unused ingredients that would normally have been thrown away.
Writer’s Choice: Bite-Sized Chocolate Desserts for Breakfast
Just to give you a hint of what is coming: 2017 is the year when chocolate will be served as breakfast! However, this is not just a decadent choice which makes a huge jump away from the “smart eating”, which was the in the core of the 2016 food choices, but rather a continuation. Dark chocolate is proved to be beneficial for the cognitive functions, focus, and memory. That is why it is best consumed first thing in the morning when the body’s metabolism is the most active.
And while we’re looking forward to this fashion becoming part of our breakfast routine, let’s combine it with yet another hot trend from 2016: bite-sized snack foods. They need to be flavorful, but also healthy. That is why words like paleo and vegan combine with more luscious ones, like chocolate or vanilla. They need be fun and quick, using convenient ingredients that are always at hand. And last, but not least, they need to be small, in order to avoid overeating. The One-Minute Sugarless Chocolate Mug Cake is the perfect fusion of the best of 2016 and a glimpse of the delights that 2017 has in store for us.
Most adults are faced with a phenomenon called “weight creep” where, in spite of the fact that their eating habits remain unchanged, the numbers on the scale continually go up.
As we age our bodies change. The metabolic function of the body is slower, which means reduced fat burning rates and increased fat deposits in the body. This, in combination with less physical activity and improper diet, are the two main reasons for uncontrolled weight gain.
Can weight creeping be stopped? The answer is yes, by eliminating some bad habits and some crucial lifestyle changes, uncontrolled weight gain can be stopped.
Make Time for Physical Activity
Make time for exercising, be disciplined and stay committed.
Increasing and maintaining the muscle mass will re-boost the metabolism and result in burning calories. The most efficient training for muscle buildup is the strength training. This type of training includes weight lifting and is best if overseen by qualified fitness trainer at the beginning.
Strength training is also good for the heart, cholesterol, and the bones. Changing the fitness routine every 6-8 weeks is very important to keep it challenging. If the body gets too accustomed to the routine, the training will not produce the desired results.
Strength training can be combined with cardio training. Try to be in motion whenever possible, walking or jogging in the park at the weekends or simply using the stairs instead of the elevator at work.
Change Your Eating and Drinking Habits
This does not mean you should adopt a restrictive diet. Start small by reducing the number of sweets you eat every day and replacing the sweetened beverages with water. And drink lots of it, because it helps burning fat.
If you are a fan of juices, choose freshly squeezed instead of store-bought juices with added sugar.
Switch from whole milk to fat-free milk. Choose full-fat yogurt because it contains probiotic bacteria that improves the function of the digestive system. Low-fat yogurt, believe it or not, is full of sugar.
Avoid alcoholic beverages as much as possible. If you do wish to consume them from time to time, choose a light beer or wine instead of fruity cocktails.
Information is Everything
Instead of Starving yourself, eat smart.
Carbohydrates should not be avoided because they are the body’s primary energy source. However, not all carbs are alike. Complex carbs provide vital vitamins, minerals, and fiber, whereas simple carbs are not good for you; the more you eat, the more you crave them. They are composed of sugars with little real value for the body.
Best Complex Carb Sources
- Leafy greens, like kale, spinach, and collards, as well as cruciferous vegetables, cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli, give you a sense of fullness;
- Beans and legumes, such as black beans, kidney beans, and lentils;
- Even though fruits contain sugar, the dietary fiber they contain prevents the sugar from being released into the bloodstream too fast. Avocado is a unique fruit. It is high in good fats, complex carbs, fiber, and potassium. Another fruit great for weight loss is grapefruit. It also helps reduce the blood sugar.
Combine complex carbs with protein foods that increase satiety and boost the metabolism.
Best Protein Sources
- Eggs are low in calories, high in protein and healthy fats;
- Salmon and other oily fish such as mackerel, herring, tuna, and sardines, are very healthy and nutritious. They provide the body with iodine and omega-3 fatty acids;
- Meat. Opt for unprocessed red meat, lean beef, or white poultry meat like chicken or turkey breasts.
- Low-fat dairy. Choose cottage cheese which also contains calcium, proven to aid the fat burning processes in the body;
- Nuts and seeds. Nuts are packed with good fats and protein but should be consumed in small amounts because they are high in calories. Chia seeds are one of the healthiest foods. The fiber they contain absorbs the excess water in the body and reduces the appetite;
- Whole grains, such as oats, quinoa, and brown.
Spices, Dressings, and Sauces
Choose mustard or salad for your sandwiches instead of ketchup, mayonnaise or cheese.
Use half of the usual amount of salad dressing, and choose apple cider vinegar-based dressing if possible. It increases the feeling of fullness and makes you eat less.
Use vegetable sauces instead of creamy ones for pasta and meat dishes.
Avoid salt as much as possible because it increases water retention in the body. Choose Himalayan or Celtic sea salt as healthier options.
Use healthier vegetable oil options, such as olive and coconut oil for cooking and baking. Coconut oil boosts the metabolism and facilitates fat burn, especially in the abdominal area.
- Eat regular meals and do not skip any of them, especially breakfast, because by lunchtime you will be starved and eat more than you should;
- Choose smaller bowls instead of regular plates and do not overfill them;
- Do not overeat. Stop when you are full. Eat smaller portions more frequently during the day instead two or three large ones;
- Avoid finishing your kids’ meal leftovers;
- Avoid eating mechanically while watching TV;
- Limit your meat portions to 4oz.
Hypnosis and Weight Loss
A very unconventional, but very effective way of losing weight is through hypnosis. First of all, don’t let the very word “hypnosis” scare you away from trying this approach. Although hypnosis has always been surrounded by a veil of mystery, it is, in fact, a natural process, a state of mind that among other things will help you control weight gain!
According to many scientists, it is our minds and the patterns of thinking that keep us from achieving a certain goal (in this case losing weight) and the key to breaking free lies precisely in hypnosis. There is actually a way to view your body and eating habits in a manner which will help you achieve the desired figure! The basics are these: you should omit all the negative associations with healthy food and rewire your brain to think of the whole weight loss process positively!
To learn more about hypnosis and weight loss go ahead and check https://www.naturalhypnosis.com/ and find all there is to know about hypnosis in general, and more importantly, how can you lose weight by simply changing your mindset.
To sum up, as we age our bodies need our help to function properly and control the weight. Uncontrolled weight gain can be prevented by combining physical activity with a healthy diet and smart eating.