Friday 5: Including Gingerbread, Turkey Trot & Healthy Chocolate

This is what has been going on in my world this week! Hope your Thanksgiving was as blessed and blissful as mine!   

1) Gingerbread Houses: My kids had a school break for the entire Thanksgiving week and they wanted to make a gingerbread house from scratch. OMG. Middle son used his geometry and algebra skills to design the blue prints while I surfed around for “structural gingerbread” recipes. Despite the all the things that could go wrong with measuring, cutting, baking and assembling a gingerbread house, the masterpiece is still standing and deliciously candy bedazzled. I’m winning Christmas already!

Kid's Gingerbread House - TheFitFork.com

Kid’s Gingerbread House – TheFitFork.com

2) Dark Chocolate: Speaking of candy, did you know dark chocolate is a superfood and that makes me super happy. Check out this spotlight I did for CorePower.com on dark chocolate and recipe ideas:

Dark Chocolate is a Superfood - TheFitFork.com

3) Turkey Trot: Had a bunch of pre-feast family fun at Austin’s Thundercloud Turkey Trot!  The hubby and kids joined me to stampede 5 miles through downtown Austin with 21 thousand fellow runners and walkers. Snagged a 1st place in age group, too!

Thundercloud Turkey Trot - TheFitFork.com

5) Beef & Leaf:  Time to NOT talk turkey — my Wilted Winter Greens and Beef Meatball Stew made its print debut in the winter edition of Moxie Magazine (they also have an online version). In my nutrition-focused article, “Kale and Collards and Chard, Oh My!”, I also talk about why all the dark leafy greens proliferating the farmers’ market this time of year are so good for you.

Winter Greens & Meatball Soup recipe in Moxie Magazine - TheFitFork.com

5) Win a Cookbook: I’m excited to be a new-ish member of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance and brush real-life elbows with the savviest online taste buds in town. You can win a copy of this group’s tome of tasty recipes, Austin Food Blogger Alliance Cookbook, a great resource that serves up the uniqueness of Austin with a side dish of varied heritages the – just leave a comment at the History Press for a chance to win.

Austin Food Blogger Alliance Cookbook

If you Turkey Trotted on Thanksgiving, tell me about it! 

If you’re crazy enough to build a gingerbread house from scratch, let me know. I have a great “structural gingerbread” recipe I can share with you — no caved in walls!

Wine, Olive Oil, Endive . . . Tastes Like a #HolidayMeal + #Giveaway

All the good things are happening at my house this week! Good (make that great) food and drink to share with family, all with a home-warming, heart-healthy spin. I love spending time with family when there is no “this and that” to be done, the only thing on the agenda this Thanksgiving week is enjoying each other and digging into fine food – some of the intriguing edible details for the week include endive, olive oil and wine!  Oh, and I’m giving away gourmet olive oil, so read on! Platter of Red and White California Endive

California Endive Farms sent me a huge box of red and white endives, oh how this makes me swoon with salad dreams. But, time to think outside the box, so I decided to GRILL my first endive recipe even though it’s a pretty complicated and coddled veggie. Apparently, endive (a member of the chicory family) is one of the most difficult vegetables to grow – it undergoes a two-step process. The first step, takes about 150 days to grow green leaves from a deep tap root. The plant is then harvested and the tops are cut off and the roots are salvaged. Secondly, the roots are put into cold storage to go dormant and then are forced into a second growth – whew, there’s so much effort that goes into endive farming ; it makes me love it even more!  And, if you haven’t noticed, it’s beautiful enough to be used as a centerpiece. Grilled Endive with Blue Cheese, Walnuts & Balsamic Drizzle - thefitfork.com

My recipes for Grilled Endive with Blue Cheese, Walnuts and Balsamic Drizzle would make a sophisticated addition to your Thanksgiving or holiday table. It’s super easy to grill either indoors or outdoors and can be finished in less than 10 minutes from produce bin to plate. I have some other recipes that I will be sharing soon (think healthy alternative to chips), but in the meantime please check out this mouth-watering collection of endive recipes.

 Grilled Endive with Blue Cheese, Walnuts and Balsamic Drizzle Recipe

  • 4 red or white endives, cut in half lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (I used Nudo Italia Garlic!)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 blue cheese crumbles
  • 1/4 cup walnut pieces
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic syrup
  1. Brush cut sides of endive liberally with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Place endive, cut sides down, on indoor grill pan or grates of outdoor pan. Cook over approximate 375 F degree heat for 4 – 5 minutes, or until grill marks are made and endive is beginning to soften (without getting overcooked – should be crisp tender).
  3. Remove endive from grill and place cut side up on serving platter. Sprinkle with blue cheese and walnuts; drizzle with balsamic syrup.
  4. Serves 4.

Rios de Chile Wine = thefitfork.com

Rios de Chile wine makes a delightful pairing for my grilled endive recipe.  I’ve heard that there are some great wines from Chile, and this one is definitely a winner – it’s light and lively and the perfect choice for seafood, poultry or a grilled salad!  The tasting notes on this one are “intense aroma of tropical fruits, fine mineral notes and citrus accents.” You’ll be the first guest on everyone’s party list if you show up with a bottle of this vino from an award-wining winery in the Cachapoal Valley.

Nudo Italia Olive Oil  - thefitfork.com

Now, onto more goodness Nudo Italia Olive Oil – wow, is it wonderful.  Imagine kicking back with a glass of that Rios de Chile wine and dipping some crusty bread into a saucer of artisanal olive oil.  Now that’s what the holidays are all about, especially if you have your loved ones dipping and drinking by your side!  I am a new fan of Nudo Olive Oil, although it’s been around since 2005. Made by a pair who left careers as television producers to move to the Italian countryside, this line of olive oils makes a point of keeping traditional farming methods alive to produce some of the best olive oil in the world. Nudo even has an olive tree adoption program which allows anyone to adopt a tree in Italy and receive its olive oil – now that’s the gift for the foodie or fine living aficionado who has everything!

Not only have I been enjoying the olive oil with my bread and drizzled on my salad, it also makes a statement in recipes – they have amazing infused flavors, too many to name (but check out their online shop). But, I’m giving away three 8.4 oz. tins of the infused flavors-  the Olive Oil Stone Ground with Real Lemons,  the Olive Oil Stone Ground with Garlic and the Olive Oil Stone Ground with Basil. Enter below via the Rafflecopter App!

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Sweet Potato & Cauliflower Mash + More Healthy Recipes

Sweet Potato & Cauliflower Mash - TheFitFork.com

Call me a clairvoyant, but I know you’re making sweet potatoes sometime in the next week. Everyone eats sweet potatoes on Thanksgiving Day, it’s the law. Even though my Kale & Caramelized Onion Sweet Potato  recipe was a huge hit at home, I really don’t like to make the same recipe for dinner twice in the same month!  So, tonight, I decided to cauliflower-ify my favorite tuber – and yum, yum, yum! Gosh, now what am I going to come up with for Thanksgiving dinner?

 Sweet Potato & Cauliflower Mash Recipe

  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes
  • 1 pound cauliflower florets
  • 3 tablespoons milk of choice
  • ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh chopped parsley for garnish (or Instantly Fresh Parsley)
  1. Peel and cut sweet potato into 1 ½ -inch chunks.
  2. In large pot with steam basked, steam sweet potato and cauliflower with 1 inch of water in bottom of pot. Vegetables will be ready in about 10 – 12 minutes, or when fork tender.
  3. Place in large bowl and mash the potato and cauliflower with the milk. Stir in the Greek yogurt, garlic powder, salt and pepper. If too thick, add milk 1 tablespoons at a time, until desired consistency is achieved. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley.
  4. Serves  4 – 6

Bowl of Mashed Sweet PotatoesHere’s the Kale & Caramalized Onion Sweet Potatoes I was mentioning.

jennifer fisher thefitfork sweet potato ruffle

Last year, I made this recipe for Sweet Potato Skillet Stack with Srirracha Orange Glaze – delish!

 

Of course, you know Cooking Light knows how to do up a sweet potato right, check out this gallery for additional inspiration.

Cooking Light Sweet Potato Recipes

So, how do you like to eat sweet potatoes best?

 

 

Cranberry Recipes for Thanksgiving Feasts + Health Benefits

Check out What's Thanksgiving Without Cranberries?!

by The Fit Fork at Foodie.com

This post is sponsored by Foodie.com.

Thanksgiving wouldn’t be the same without cranberries on the table and I’m happy to be sharing a collection of cranberry recipes I put together for Foodie.com – you’ll find healthy cranberry recipes for Thanksgiving and the remainder of the holiday season.

12 Healthy Cranberry Recipes for the Holidays - thefitfork.com

If you’ve wondered why we mainly eat cranberries in the fall, it’s because they are in season October, November and December – the primary holiday meal making months! However, this sweet-tart berry has so many health benefits that I like to eat them year round.  Many of these health benefits are attributed to the phytochemicals known as proanthocyandidins found in cranberries – this compound in cranberries inhibit bacteria from adhering and multiplying in the body – that’s why drinking cranberry juice is a natural remedy for urinary tract infections. Cranberries may lower incidence of cancer; studies show polyphenolic extracts from cranberries diminish the growth of prostate, lung and esophageal tumor cells – cranberries have the highest level of this powerful antioxidant than 20 fruits and vegetables tested. As an athlete, cranberries are also a great source of natural carbohydrates to fuel workouts. Health Benefits of Cranberries - thefitfork.com

So, how can you enjoy cranberries year round when the store shelves are cleared out at the New Year? You can freeze fresh cranberries to use later in sauce, relish and other recipes. If you’re in a hurry, simply place original packing inside a heavy duty freezer bag and freeze for up to one year. If you have more time, I’d suggest rinsing and drying the cranberries and then freezing in a single layer on a baking sheet before placing in an airtight container. This allows you to grab a handful at a time without the berries being clumped together.

Do you have a favorite cranberry recipe? Please share!

Apple Cider Bourbon Glazed Carrots + Big Book of Sides #Giveaway

four roses whiskey - thefitforkOther than turkey, nothing says Thanksgiving more than a bottle of full of bourbon in my family. We’ll have that sucker drained in no time — no so much taking shots (okay, maybe a couple), but rather as a spirited ingredient in my holiday menu.

Watch this video of Rick Rodgers, chef and author of The Big Book of Sides, make Bacon, Onion and Bourbon Marmalade –it’s fantastic and versatile enough to spread it on a biscuit or dress a bowl full of warm green beans. Oh, and I’m hosting a giveaway for a copy of The Big Book of Sides, so enter at the bottom of this post.

Based on Rick’s recipe for Pomegranate Glazed Carrots (p. 148 of The Big Book of Sides) and my new found bottle of Four Roses Bourbon, I was inspired to create my own side dish recipe — Apple Cider Bourbon Glazed Carrots.  These carrots are so delicious and make a perfect pairing with your roast turkey or even a juicy steak – and because I’m using coconut (palm) sugar, they are even Paleo-diet friendly. Apple Cider Bourbon Glazed Carrots - side dish recipe from TheFitFork.com

Apple Cider Bourbon Carrots - thefitfork.comBourbon Apple Cider Glazed Carrots Recipe

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 pound carrots, scrubbed and green tops removed
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1 ounce bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon coconut (palm) sugar
  • Sea salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped pecans

 

  1. Melt butter in medium skillet over medium heat. Add carrots in single layer and pour in apple cider and bourbon. Sprinkle tops with brown sugar and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Bring sauce to boil over high heat, occasionally stirring to dissolve coconut sugar.
  3. Cover and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer for 6 to 8 minutes to soften remove lid and bring heat up to high. Boil until sauce has reduced to a glaze, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  4. Transfer to serving platter, sprinkle with pecans, and season with additional salt and pepper if needed.   Serves 4.

So, if you’ve ever struggled with side dish ideas and are tired of the same old mashed potatoes or plain buttered peas, The Big Book of Sides has more than 450 recipes that will add pizzazz and razzamatazz to your holiday plate. Some of the side dish recipes that spoke to me were Chard Puttanesca; Smoked Gouda Mashed Potatoes;   Farro, Cherry and Feta Salad; and Chipotle Corn Pudding. Enter below for a chance to win a copy of this must-have manual for the home cook – if you can’t wait to win, you can pick up a copy on Amazon.

This post and giveaway is sponsored. I received product and other compensation in exchange for my time; all opinions, editorial comments, content and photographs are my own, unless otherwise noted.

 

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Cranberry Orange Ginger Relish & #StackandSnap Food Processor #Giveaway

This post and giveaway are sponsored by Hamilton Beach. While they provided products for review, all opinions, editorial comments and recipes are my own.

Cranberry Orange Ginger Relish - TheFitFork.com

Looking for an easy, healthy holiday side dish you can make CHOP, CHOP?! My recipe for Cranberry Orange Ginger Relish is a real winner that beats that nasty canned jelly stuff with a wallop of fresh, zingy flavor. Versions of this recipe have been served at my family’s Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations for as long as I can remember – while Grandma used to dump in a cup of granulated sugar, I keep it lower carb by using Stevia instead.

Cranberries Oranges and Ginger - TheFitFork.com

Can you believe there are only four (FOUR!) ingredients in this simple recipe and it can be whipped up in two minutes or less with the help of a food processor. Seriously, all you do is wash the fruit, quarter the orange (leave skin on!) and peel the ginger, throw all the healthy ingredients along with a touch of Stevia (or you could use honey) into the food processor and pulse for about a minute. Viola, you’re done – it’ tastes even better the next day and can be used as a side salad, relish for lean proteins, topping for yogurt, or as a way to add some seasonal razzamatazz to your turkey sandwich or roast beef wrap. And, for those of you with dietary concerns, this fruit recipe is sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free and appropriate for Paleo, vegetarian, vegan and raw diets.

Hamilton Beach Stack and Chop Food Processor -and recipe from TheFitFork.com

I was so excited to receive a brand spanking new Stack and Snap™ 10 Cup Food Processor from Hamilton Beach just in time for the holidays. My old one is almost 24 years old (wedding gift) and a pain in the butt to use – although, back then it was AWESOME! Today my new awesome is this good-looking Stack and Snap™ processor – it’s super easy to use thanks to a simple function guide that shows you which blade to use and which button to press. Another thing I appreciated right out of the box is that everything assembles with ease — there’s no twisting, turning or locking required when assembling the food processor. Uh, I hated using my old one because I could never remember how to put it together. I would have to holler for my husband to come into the kitchen to fix it because it was “broken.” Hey, don’t judge – I do all the cooking, he should make himself useful in the kitchen too!

Cranberry Relish in Food Processor - TheFitForkWith a powerful 450 Watt motor, this healthy-food-making bad boy can chop, slice, shred, mix and puree in no time, making my recipe prep time nearly non-existant. The Stack and Snap™ 10 Cup Food Processor is also leak-proof, has a lock-down blade that won’t fall out when pouring and a Big Mouth® feed tube that can handle many whole-sized food (less pre-chopping by me)! Oh, and clean up’s a breeze, the parts (except for the base) are dishwasher safe.  So, you know it – I’m giving one away! Enter via the Rafflecopter app at the end of the recipe. 

 

Raw Cranberry Orange Ginger Relish Recipe

  • 1 lb. package fresh cranberries
  • 1 large navel orange
  • 2-inch chunk of ginger root, peeled
  • 2 teaspoons powdered Stevia
  1. Rinse cranberries and drain in colendar.
  2. Wash and quarter orange, remove any seeds but leave peel on.
  3. Peel ginger with paring knife and cut into chunks.
  4. Place all ingredients in work bowl of processor and pulse intermittently for one minute, or until coarsely chopped.
  5. Serves 6 – 8.

jennifer fisher - thefitfork.com - bourbon cranberry apricot pecan relishIf you’re looking for another cranberry relish idea, check out this Bourbon Apricot Pecan Cranberry Relish recipe I did for last year’s feast. It is also sugar-free, but has a more syrupy, cooked on the stove top taste.

 

 

 

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Creamy Cranberry Orange Smoothie & Marathon Countdown

Creamy Cranberry Orange Smoothie - TheFitFork.com

Where DOES the time go? It’s almost the middle of November which means cranberries are popping up everywhere, getting me excited for Thanksgiving) the subsequent Dallas Marathon just 17 days after that. Am I ready? No. Am I ever ready? No. So, I’m just not going to worry about it and be happy for what my body can do rather than what it can’t. Once again, I plan to follow the “fat-loading” pre-marathon diet that I did last year (read about it here). Because Dallas Marathon was canceled due to ice last year, I never got to see if all that avocado and salmon scarfing actually helped train my body to better tap fat stores as a more immediate source of fuel. The idea is that the body will spare glycogen reserves for use at the race by using fat stores more efficiently on the front end. In other words, no bonking – hopefully.

Dallas Marathon 2012 - Jennifer Fisher

2012 Dallas Marathon — it rained the ENTIRE race! That’s me, only girl in that group on far left.

So, enough about that – I can’t even think of running 26.2 miles at my race pace right now! Instead, I’d rather think about my Creamy Cranberry Orange Smoothie which is sweet-tart, but not over the top!  If you are looking for other autumn smoothie ideas, check out my collection of six fall season smoothies which includes a Maple Pear Chia Chiller. Enjoy!

Creamy Cranberry Orange Smoothie - TheFitFork.com

Creamy Cranberry Orange Smoothie Recipe

  • 6 ounces fresh orange juice
  • 2 ounces cranberry juice
  • 2 ounces Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup fresh cranberries
  • Lemon- or regular-flavored stevia, to taste
  • Ice, as needed

Blend together juices, yogurt and cranberries. Add stevia to taste and ice to achieve desired consistency. Serves.1

 

So, who’s running marathons in November or December? Let me know! 

Kale and Caramelized Onion Sweet Potatoes + Favorite Fall Recipes

Check out Recipes for a Fit & Flavorful Fall

by The Fit Fork at Foodie.com

If you take pleasure in eating the signature dishes of the season, fall is a particularly comforting time of year.  Just thinking about the bounty of upcoming Thanksgiving holiday and autumn harvest inspired recipes gives me that warm, fuzzy feeling of well-being of being at Grandma’s house with all the family gathered round.

Pumpkin aside, the most iconic ingredient of autumn may be the sweet potato. Even though this practically royal root is actually enjoyed year-round to the tune of 2.6 billion pounds in the US, it makes the most of its popularity in October, November and December.  Think about it — if you haven’t had sweet potatoes on your holiday dinner table, you may not be normal.

What is normal in my kitchen is to skip mucking up this orange tuber with marshmallows (why, WHY?!) and instead mash up and mix in other healthy ingredients – like the healthy greens, onions, coconut milk and wellness enhancing spices in my recipe for Kale and Caramelized Onion Sweet Potatoes below. If said it before, but I’ll say it again – I love using the sweet potato as a way to fuel my distance running, it’s the perfect choice for healthy carbohydrate loading. Not only does the sweet potato have a lower glycemic index than the traditional white potato (meaning it will be deployed as energy to your body at a more steady state), it is also packed with other nutrition that benefits athletes including vitamins A and C,  manganese, calcium, potassium, iron, vitamin B6 and fiber.

Bowl of Mashed Sweet Potatoes

This Kale and Caramelized Onion Sweet Potatoes dish is the one I made earlier in the week to complement my Cinnamon-Rubbed Braised Lamb with Cranberry Ginger Sauce.  This recipe is so yummy, it’s BAAAAA-d to the bone!  And, by the way — totally approved by all my Paleo diet friends.Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Greens and Onions

Kale and Caramelized Onion Sweet Potatoes Recipe

  • 2 lb (about 2 large) sweet potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, finely sliced
  • ¼ cup white wine (or broth)
  • 4 cups shredded kale (or other winter greens)
  • 2/3 cup coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

 Instructions:

  1. Peel the sweet potato and cut into even sized 1 inch cubes. Place the sweet potatoes in a large pot filled with water. Boil uncovered for 15 minutes or until softened.
  2. Drain the sweet potatoes in colander and set aside.
  3. In bottom of same pot, add olive oil and bring to medium-high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, for approximately 15 minutes or until turning golden brown and caramelizing. Add wine to pot to deglaze pan and then quickly add kale or other greens and continue to cook for an additional 2 minutes, or until wilted. Turn off heat.
  4. Add sweet potatoes, coconut milk, ginger, and cinnamon and mash everything together to desired consistency. If needed, add a splash more coconut milk. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Serves 4.

What is your favorite sweet potato recipe? 

This post is sponsored by Foodie.com – however, all comments, opinions and recipes are my own.