Monthly Archives: November 2011

Tamales – A Celebration



Autumn arrived with a blast of cold air and a bit of mild rain.

As we set our gardens to auto water via Mother Nature and we begin to ignite fires with our fireplaces rather than our BBQs we prepare for the wonder of winter.

This is the time of year it’s easy to stop our regular walking routines, indulge in heavy and not so good for our waist foods and sink into the doldrums.

How can we prepare and make winter wonderful?

For me it’s about the food. Lately I’ve been dreaming in steamed masa.  The smell of fresh tamales cooking and the warmth of the house filled with the excited peoples awaiting  their pot exit.  I loved finding the recipe below – a bit lighter than the “traditional” recipes with the note of how to steam them in the oven.  More recipes may be found on the cooking light site.  Holidays don’t have to add the weight to our hips.  I also like it because the tamales can easily be transported with this method ready for cooking – just add the water to the broiler pan.  Trying to get tamales to stand in the steamer just so then get them to another kitchen or event to cook can be a frustrating struggle.

Serve with some – Tea & Spice Matcha Chai Recipe

Cooking Light Inspirations

How to Make Traditional Tamales

Photo: Lee Harrelson

Pork and Ancho Chile Tamales with Mexican Red Sauce

For ease, make the pork mixture for these tamales a day or two ahead. The recipe makes quite a few servings; serve with Spanish saffron-flavored rice for a fun evening with friends.


  • 24 dried corn husks
  • 1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup fat-free
  • 1/3 cup dried cherries
  • 1 ancho chile, stemmed
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin
  • Cooking spray
  • 4 1/2 cups Basic Masa Dough
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 1 1/4 cups Mexican hot-style tomato sauce
  • Lime wedges (optional)


  • 1. Place corn husks in a large bowl; cover with water. Weight husks down with a can; soak 30 minutes. Drain husks.
  • 2. Combine broth, cherries, and ancho chile in a microwave-safe dish. Microwave at HIGH for 2 minutes or until cherries and ancho are tender. Combine broth mixture, onion, and next 5 ingredients (through garlic) in a blender; process until mixture is smooth. Reserve 1/2 cup broth mixture; cover and chill. Place remaining broth mixture in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add pork; seal and marinate in refrigerator 1 hour, turning bag occasionally.
  • 3. Preheat oven to 450°.
  • 4. Remove pork from bag, and discard marinade. Place pork on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 450° for 30 minutes or until a thermometer registers 155° (slightly pink). Let pork stand 20 minutes; shred pork with 2 forks. Toss shredded pork with reserved 1/2 cup broth mixture.
  • 5. Working with one husk at a time, place about 3 tablespoons Basic Masa Dough in the center of husk, about 1/2 inch from top of husk; press dough into a 4-inch-long by 3-inch-wide rectangle. Spoon about 1 heaping tablespoon pork mixture down one side of dough. Using the corn husk as your guide, fold husk over tamale, being sure to cover filling with dough; fold over 1 more time. Fold bottom end of husk under. Place tamale, seam side down, on the rack of a broiler pan lined with a damp towel. Repeat procedure with remaining husks, Basic Masa Dough, and filling. Cover filled tamales with another damp towel. Pour 2 cups hot water in the bottom of a broiler pan; top with prepared rack.
  • 6. Steam tamales at 450° for 55 minutes, adding water as necessary to maintain a depth of about 1/2 inch. Let tamales stand 10 minutes. Serve with sauce and lime wedges, if desired.

Julianna Grimes, Cooking Light

Traditional Tamales via the Oven

Traditionally, tamales are cooked in a tamalera, a metal pot with a steamer tray that can cook up to 6 dozen tamales. We found that you can achieve similar results with an oven method that doesn’t require special equipment. Place up to 2 dozen tamales on a broiler rack lined with a damp towel, cover tamales with another damp towel, and place rack in a broiler pan filled with hot water to a depth of about 1/2 inch. (Use old towels if possible because they may discolor.)


Color Your World – 12 Steps to a Healthier You!


As the fall leaves begin to turn (beta carotene by the way) it’s time to not forget to think in COLORS!

From lovely green beans to pumpkins to winter squash and my favorite persimmons!

Persimmons – Little Round Lanterns

Yes, I said persimmons. In my area this time of year as the leaves drop persimmon trees are filled with little golden lanterns. At sunset they glow. My son loves to ask can we stop and pick just a few.

The flesh, leaves and the stem can be very beneficial to the body. Meanwhile, the bright reddish fruit shaped like round Chinese lanterns are usually given as lucky presents to newlyweds to symbolize eternal love.

The Persimmons fruit is packed with cold yin energy hence serves as a potent medium in expelling pathogenic heat. This boasts of antioxidants, vitamins A, C, phosphorous, manganese, iodine and other important elements needed by the body. Persimmons is also rich in fiber and calories. Once fresh peel is applied to your face, it can help lighten and brighten the complexion.

Aside from the fruit, the leaves and stems used as tea can relieve hiccupps and coughing. Drinking persimmon leaf tea can also lower blood pressure and treat the hardening of the arteries. The tannins and flavonoids found in persimmon leaves have anti-hypertensive, anti-carcinogenic, and anti-mutagenic properties. The leaf also serves as a mild laxative to serve as an effective remedy for hemorrhoids and strengthens weak blood vessels including spider veins and varicose veins. Therefore, drinking the leaf could definitely help you in getting rid of your nasty hemorrhoid condition.

Persimmons can also help reduce allergic reactions. The leaf extract and its major flavonoid constituent, astragalin, acts as natural antihistamine which inhibits the release of the histamine. It also relieves the symptoms of dermatitis that could lessen inflammation and thickening of the skin. The astringent raw persimmon fruit is also used for constipation relief, gastro-intestinal irritation, dysentery, chronic diarrhea, ulceration of the bowel and stomach. Researches have it that the compounds in persimmon leaves bind to excess fat and help eliminate fat from the body.

So now that you know the great benefits of the persimmon what do you do with them.

We eat them raw. Though roasted seems like a natural direction.

Morgan Brownlow published this recipe

Roasted Persimmons Wrapped in Pancetta

  • ACTIVE: 25 MIN
  • SERVINGS: 20
  • FAST


  1. 42 thin slices pancetta (about 1 1/4 pounds) or 21 slices bacon, halved crosswise
  2. 7 Fuyu persimmons, peeled, each persimmon cut into 6 wedges
  3. Salt and freshly ground pepper
  4. Balsamic vinegar, preferably aged at least 10 years


  1. Preheat the oven to 450°. Lay the pancetta on 2 large rimmed baking sheets. Bake for 3 minutes, or until softened. Transfer the pancetta to a large plate. Wipe off the baking sheets.
  2. Season the persimmons with salt and pepper and wrap each wedge with a slice of pancetta. Secure with toothpicks. Arrange the persimmons on the baking sheets. Bake 1 sheet at a time in the center of the oven for 4 minutes, or until the pancetta is crisp. Transfer to a platter, drizzle with the vinegar and serve.

Make Ahead

Wrap the persimmon wedges earlier in the day and refrigerate until ready to bake.

Exercise – 12 Steps to a Healthier You!


We’ve known it for years.  Our grandmothers said it.  Get out and exercise, go get some fresh air, get out of my house and stop being under my feet.  Here’s an apple.

What did our foremothers know that we are ignoring?



Upper respiratory tract infection is reduced in physically fit and active adults


Objective Limited data imply an inverse relationship between physical activity or fitness level and the rates of upper respiratory tract infection (URTI). The purpose of this study was to monitor URTI symptoms and severity in a heterogeneous group of community adults and contrast across tertiles of physical activity and fitness levels while adjusting for potential confounders.

Design A group of 1002 adults (ages 18–85 years, 60% female, 40% male) were followed for 12 weeks during the winter and fall seasons while monitoring URTI symptoms and severity using the Wisconsin Upper Respiratory Symptom Survey. Subjects reported frequency of aerobic activity, and rated their physical fitness level using a 10-point Likert scale. A general linear model, with adjustment for seven confounders, was used to examine the effect of exercise frequency and fitness level on the number of days with URTI and severity of symptoms.

Results The number of days with URTI during the 12-week period was significantly reduced, 43% in subjects reporting ≥5 days/week aerobic exercise compared to those who were largely sedentary (≤1 day/week) and 46% when comparing subjects in the high versus low fitness tertile. URTI severity and symptomatology were also reduced 32% to 41% between high and low aerobic activity and physical fitness tertiles.

Conclusions Perceived physical fitness and frequency of aerobic exercise are important correlates of reduced days with URTI and severity of symptoms during the winter and fall common cold seasons.

Now that we’ve heard doctors support Grandma; what do we need to do to fight off the seasonal

doldrums and keep upper respitory at bay – a good walk!!

Fight A Cold with Exercise

Grab a home made smoothie on the way out the door, boost the vitamin C and Quercetin.

How about an orange smoothie with a touch of pineapple (Bromein is do good for us)
I like to add a scoop of Smoothie Essentials Women’s Blend and one of their Immune Support Blend. Boost the power of nature.

Orange Pineapple Smoothie Recipe

the flavors of Oranges and Pineapples seem to blend well together in many products including smoothies. The orange pineapple smoothie uses some juice to blend together the natural pineapple flavor.

1 sweet orange peeled and sliced
1/2 cup sliced fresh pineapple
1/2 a banana
1/2 cup of orange-pineapple or banana-orange-pineapple juice
1/2 cup of ice