Super Bowl: healthy halftime appetizers based on weight loss reality TV shows

Super Bowl party hosts, did you know you don't have to serve junk food at your halftime appetizers buffet? Nowhere in the Super Bowl Sunday code does it say "thou shalt overindulge." If folks have learned anything from TLC's reality TV show "My 600-lb Life" it's that more people are overweight to obese. Why not serve these vegetarian and ketogenic diet Super Bowl recipes? These are my own recipes, based on weight loss shows from reality television?   Super Bowl: healthy halftime appetizers based on weight loss reality TV shows

'My 600-lb Life'-inspired diet hacks, weight loss food swaps to beat obesity now

If we learn anything from Dr. Nowzaradan of TLC's "My 600-lb Life [VIDEO]" it's to treat obesity sooner rather that later. The New Year is the perfect time to start a weight loss regimen. But many January diets fail by February because folks go gung-ho, get overwhelmed and give up. To succeed, eat healthier one day at a time, in little ways. Don't think diet as much as #food swaps. Here are 35 ways to clean up your plate and lose weight today.    'My 600-lb Life'-inspired diet hacks, weight loss food swaps to beat obesity now

Gluten-free paleo sandwich recipes for weight loss: Breadless foods you'll love

 Do you love sandwiches? Lord Montague, the 4th Earl of Sandwich did — that's why he invented them! The story goes, he didn't want to bust up a rocking poker game to eat supper. He told the servants to slap a hunk of whatever meat there was between two slices of bread. But what about those with gluten allergies? Less was known then about wheat allergy, diabetes, or obesity (all by-products of a carb addiction). So how about some recipe hacks for breadless sandwiches, for weight loss, paleo, or gluten-free diets. We'll see your bread and raise you one better, Lord Montague!   Gluten-free paleo sandwich recipes for weight loss: Breadless foods you'll love

Last-minute Thanksgiving dinner menu, meal planner, time table and recipes for holiday cooking

Arrgh!! Someone bailed and left you with the entire Thanksgiving dinner preparation two days before showtime! You could get drunk and cancel the holiday, or glitter bomb their car (yeah, definitely do that one) but the best plan is to use this last-minute holiday planner to pull off a Turkey Day extraordinaire. You'll find the Thanksgiving grocery shopping list, but budget tips to keep cost low, on my blog Shop Chat (grab paper plates, napkins, cups and plastic cutlery if desired).

Here's the timetable you need to follow to pull this off. You will seen ITMT in recipes. That indicates "in the mean time", meaning do this while the previous stage of cooking is happening). Preparing Thanksgiving dinner is all about multitasking.Oh and if anyone asks if they can bring something, LET THEM! And don't feel badly if you need to ask people to chip in. The entire dinner can cost $40-$50.

On T-day minus 2 (two days before Thanksgiving):

Thaw turkey in refrigerator.
Use up leftovers.
Clean out refrigerator.
Grocery shop--Aldi, Walmart, Dollar Tree and Save-a-Lot have best prices.
Use large blunt bread knife to cube loaf of bread for stuffing. Spread bread cubes in a single layer and cover loosely with towel. (Protect from pets and kids who for some reason love bread cubes.)

T-day minus 1 (one day ahead)

Bake frozen pies (Save boxes to store baked pie. They will keep for one day.)

ITMT start mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes. Set two large kettles, filled about two inches with water, to boil. You will add more water later but they will boil faster with less water. Wash white potatoes and sweet potatoes. Add sweet and white potatoes, jackets on, to each pan. Add about two more inches of water. Cover. Cook till tender: white potatoes cook about 20-30 minutes and sweet potatoes cook about 45 minutes.

ITMT rinse cranberries. Place in sauce pan with one cup of water and 1/2 to one cup of sugar (brown or white). Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 30 minutes. Berries will begin to pop and whistle as they soften.

ITMT prepare Thanksgiving turkey giblets. Remove turkey from refrigerator and packaging from turkey. From chart on wrapping, calculate cooking time based on size of bird and when you plan to eat. Remove giblets bag from neck cavity and tail from tail cavity. Discard neck and liver and rinse giblets for stuffing. Simmer until tender.

ITMT prep Thanksgiving turkey. Rinse entire bird, including cavities to get any ice out. Pat turkey dry and spray with non-stick cooking spray or use butter if it's not basted already. Place bird in foil pan with lift out handles. Cover loosely with foil and return to refrigerator

ITMT start stuffing. In a large frying pan, melt 2 sticks of butter on low. Season with one teaspoon of sage, poultry seasoning, garlic, 1/2 black pepper and marjoram if you have it. Watch it as butter burns easily. ITMT pare and chop onion. Add to melted butter to saute. ITMT, wash, pare and chop celery. Add to onion and butter. Simmer until vegetables are tender.

ITMT drain and cool potatoes in cold water until you can handle them without getting burned. ITMT, start sweet potatoes sauce recipe. Melt 3 sticks of margarine and add one pound of brown sugar and one can orange juice. Blend and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until sauce is thickened.

ITMT continue Thanksgiving stuffing placing dried bread cubes in a large mixing bowl. Pour butter, onion and celery sauce over bread. Add chicken broth.Blend until butter and broth have soaked into bread. Place stuffing in baking dish and refrigerate overnight. Stuffing is best if it marinates. After you stuff the bird, you will have extra. Bake this separately in baking dish. Don't stuff bird till T-day.

ITMT remove skins from sweet potatoes. Arrange in disposable baking dish and set aside. Remove skins from white potatoes and place taties in large bowl and blend or mash until smooth. Return to cooking pan along with two sticks of butter, garlic, one cup of milk, salt and pepper. Optional: add sour cream, Parmesan and cheese if desires. Heat on low and blend all ingredients, stirring constantly. Pour into another disposable baking dish. Cool, cover and refrigerate.

ITMT pour orange brown sugar sauce over sweet potatoes. Cover and place in refrigerator on top of white potatoes. Pour cranberry sauce into baking dish. Cool, cover and refrigerate. Put feet up and have a glass of wine!

On Thanksgiving Day:

Chill beverages. Preheat oven 325. Remove turkey from pan and stuff neck and tail cavities. Replace in pan, cover loosely with foil and place in oven. Bake leftover stuffing separately in baking dish.

ITMT assemble green bean casserole. Rinse and drain green beans and place in baking dish. Add mushroom soup, stir and season with pepper. Top with French fried onions and bake about 30 minutes with turkey. Bake rolls or biscuits. Bake cold mashed white potatoes if you have room in oven, about one hour.

ITMT tidy kitchen, set table and in the last 30 minutes of baking turkey, remove foil and increase heat to 400 to brown. Remove other dishes, add sweet potatoes and bake for 30 minutes. Remove turkey from oven when timer pops up. Let turkey sit for 15 minutes before you cut. Open wine to breathe. Serve on good paper plates and use plastic tableware and cups to make Thanksgiving cleanup easier on you. Enjoy your labors and your family. Happy Thanksgiving!

Pumpkin recipes: Pumpkin spice treats, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin soup recipes for fall

I am a pumpkin fanatic. Every fall and through the winter, pumpkin appears in dozens of foods from my house. Pumpkins are brimming with Vitamin A and beta-carotene. Pumpkin is perfect for vegan and vegetarians delicious and nutritious. Here are some of my very best pumpkin recipes.

For these recipes, you will not use a jack-o-lantern pumpkin (the variety you carve). Select the smaller pumpkin known colloquially in supermarkets as the 'pie pumpkin'. These have richer flesh, thicker rinds and better flavor. You can cook down and can or freeze pumpkin. The other option which is just as delicious and nutritious is canned packed pumpkin. I admit to cheating and using canned pumpkin. If you choose the canned pumpkin option, but sure to buy plain pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling. Pumpkin pie filling is sweetened and has spices added. I don't even buy pumpkin pie filling for my pies.

Pumpkin Soup: Perfect power packed nutrition for chilly fall days. In a large, deep skillet melt two sticks of butter or margarine (olive oil if you are a vegan). saute one medium chopped onion, one small stalk of cleaned, pared and sliced celery, five chopped sage leaves (or 1 teaspoon of ground sage) and one half teaspoon cracked pepper. Pour contents of saute pan in soup pot. Add one 29 oz. can of pumpkin and a carton of Progresso chicken broth (vegans and vegetarians, replace chicken broth with vegetable broth). Fill the pumpkin can with milk (vegans, use water) and add that to the pot. Simmer until blended and heated through. Just before serving, add chopped cucumbers and butter croutons. Send a jar to an elderly neighbor, a family with a new baby or a sick friend.

Pumpkin Upside-Down Custard: In a large bowl, blend 1 29oz. can of pumpkin, one teaspoon of cinnamon, one half teaspoon of nutmeg and ginger, one quarter teaspoon of cloves, one teaspoon of salt, four large eggs, one cup of packed brown sugar, one tablespoon of flour Refill pumpkin can with milk and add to ingredients. Blend until smooth and fold in one cup of peeled, chopped apples (optional). Placed in 9x13 glass baking dish coated with non-stick pan spray. Bake at 400 degrees about 40 minutes until set. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

For topping: blend 1 cup finely chopped pecans with 1 stick melted butter and one quarter cup brown sugar. Mixture will be crumbly. Sprinkle over surface and bake for five to ten minutes to set. Vegans can replace eggs and milk with two packages of silken soft tofu also.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Custard: Using the same ingredients as above, cut milk down to 10 oz and add two 8 oz packages of softened cream cheese. You will need to use blender or electric mixer to blend. Using two cartons of whipped cream cheese will be easier to blend also.

Pumpkin is one of my favorite comfort foods.


Vegan, paleo and ketogenic diet weight loss recipes with diet food swaps

 I have lost 100 pounds using a variety of diet tips and tricks. I don't follow a specific weight loss diet because there's no one meal plan that hits everything I'm looking for. So I do like they say in the Al-Anon slogans, "take what you like and leave the rest." Here are ketogenic diet recipes based on food swaps for weight loss  Vegan, paleo and ketogenic diet weight loss recipes with diet food swaps

Weight Loss Recipe of the Day: Pumpkin Spice Sunshine Muffins or breakfast quick bread, to diet for!

Fall is a great time to start or improve your diet and exercise regimen. So, I'm doing a series of "Weight loss recipe of the Day" posts. Think fall and you think pumpkin spice right? I also think home-baked after going oven-free all winter long and because, well, I always think baked goods, lol. Muffins are my drug of choice. But after losing 100 pounds which I'm trying to keep off, they're kryptonite. If you're craving that pumpkin spice shtick and muffins, here's a healthier diet version. My diet recipes tweak favorites with low sugar, better sugar, protein and fiber, low calorie, lowfat (and good fat) options. Make this "to diet for" breakfast muffin/quick bread with 1/3 the calories and tons of healthy stuff! 

Pumpkin Spice Sunshine Breakfast Bread/Muffins

1/2 cups unsweetened homemade applesauce
1 and 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup pumpkin (you can use cooked winter squash too)
1/2 cup grated carrots
1/2 to 1 cup seeds: pumpkin, sunflower, chia
1 teas. cinnamon
1/2 teas. nutmeg
1 teas. each baking soda and baking powder
Flaxseed to make two eggs
1/4 cup melted 35-calorie light butter or Greek yogurt
mashed banana
fresh crushed peaches or pineapple 
optional: walnuts

Mix ingredients (chunky applesauce and banana is good) and bake 350 for 55 minutes (bread) about 35-40 (muffins). Loaf makes about 20 servings. Calories 100 to 130 per slice. Makes 12 muffins 140 calories each.

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Freelance writer, Top 100 Yahoo! Voices, Yahoo! News, Shine, Michigan, Detroit), blogger, teacher, mom of 4, happily married 25 years. Graduated GVSU 1986, psychology/general education and special education. continuing ed up to present. Certified MI teacher. Writing Michigan history mystery, children's Gothic fantasy. Areas of expertise: education, relationships, mental health, nutrition, history, world cultures. Passions: faith, Catholic church, sustainable living, interfaith initiatives, living simply that others might simply live. Working on MA in EI education. 

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