By Mary Martin Nordness

For centuries, consumers have known that what they eat and how much can play a role in their health, but only until recently have studies shown that food also may play a role in keeping our brains healthy. While most Americans consider brain health the second most important component in maintaining a healthy lifestyle - right after heart health - they often have no idea they can help to fight off cognitive decline with better nutrition. And with 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 each day, and Americans living longer, it’s more important than ever to know the steps to protect your brain health.

If you’re planning on enjoying some backyard summer parties, I’ve got the potato salad for you. This bacon ranch potato salad is a huge crowd pleaser, and it’s quick and easy to make. Summer is *far* from over so enjoy all the gatherings in coming weeks.

Happy summer and as always, bon appétit!

The foods that we associate the most with the South are all at their peak in July. 

Shucking peas on the porch with grandmother, tomato sandwiches on white bread in the yard and having watermelon seed spitting contests are memories we all have here in Alabama. 

So what do you do with the haul from the farmer’s market when you get it home? 

Who doesn’t love a great cake? If you’re looking for a unique, absolutely amazing dessert to serve, this cannoli cake is simply divine. What’s even better? It’s surprisingly easy to make. Enjoy, and as always, bon appétit!

Those of you who are savvy shoppers have no doubt noticed: Strawberries can be had in almost every store (and at the Farmer's Markets) for low, LOW prices, and often in bulk. With such a bounty, what is one to do? Create a sweet desert that will thrill the taste buds of everyone in your family, of course! This is my recipe for strawberry vanilla Bundt cake, and it's usually a big hit. Enjoy using those great berries and as always, bon appétit!

Are you a snacker? If so, you know: It’s not easy to find a healthy, low-fat and low-carb treat to enjoy. This month, I’ve got a solution! These Low Carb Cheez-It® crackers are an excellent option as a go-to when you need something flavorful that won’t destroy your healthy eating plan. And this is easy - so no need to put off making because you can make these quickly. Summer is almost here...it's time to dial back all our unhealthy eating habits. It can be done without sacrificing tastiness. So, whether you need a snack as you catch up on the week's DVR shows or something to bring to the ballpark (these are great for sharing), give these crackers a try.

Tuscaloosa, you astound me: Thanks for all the compliments about this tomato basil soup – I’m honored. If there’s one thing we know about here, it’s great food, and this soup recipe is excellent, if I do say so myself. It’s fast and easy, too, which helps tremendously when we’re on the go as we so often are here.

Enjoy the rest of this busy month and, as always, bon appétit!

Hooray, it’s finally spring! Now, let’s celebrate with this nifty, tasty orange dream smoothie – the perfect pastel treat to fit into this season, shall we? This smoothie is healthy and delicious (and let’s face it, these terms are not always synonymous).

Bon appétit!

**Oh, this recipe is fantastic - and our special thanks to Birmingham Post-Herald Editor Hanson Watkins for sharing!

If you still have pecans left over from the Glenwood pecan sales that happen at Christmas, this is a wonderful  way to use those up.

This granola is really delicious – sweet, nutty, crunchy.  It has the added value of being high in protein and iron plus you get a serving of surreptitious vegetable (thank you pumpkin).  Since it is high protein and lower in carbs, it helps keep blood sugar stable. 

Serve on top of vanilla or fruit Greek yogurt or in a bowl topped with the milk of your choice. Almond milk goes well with this granola.  This is a very filling mixture, so a little goes a long way.

  • 2 cups Pecans (chopped or halves)
  • 1 cup Pumpkin Seeds, Raw
  • ½ cup Unsalted Sunflower Seeds
  • 2/3 cups Canned Pumpkin Puree
  • ½ cup Unsweet Applesauce (the little lunch sized container works here)
  • 1.5 TB Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 1 TB blackstrap molasses
  • ¼ cup Maple Syrup*

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Line two cookie sheets with parchment or oil two cookie sheets. Parchment works best plus is easy to clean up.

Mix together pumpkin, apple sauce, pumpkin pie spice, sweetener and molasses until well combined. Add nuts and seeds.

Spread the mixture onto cookie sheets. It will be clumpy, but avoid big chunks as they will not dry as well.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, stir and bake for another 15- 20 minutes.

Cool, break into pieces and store in a ziplock bag in the freezer. This mixture can last 4-6 months in the freezer, but it tends to be eaten much quicker. No need to defrost before eating as it will defrost well enough to eat in the time it takes to get it to the table.

Makes 12 – 1/2 cup servings

*Can use Swerve or Splenda to make this a low carb recipe.  Doing so reduces the calories to 227 per serving and 4 net carbs.

This recipe is grain free and Paleo friendly as written.

 

For those of you looking for a way to make a delicious breakfast without having to wake up an hour early, I’ve got a suggestion: This overnight oatmeal is perfection. Prep everything, use the slow cooker and wake up to a hearty breakfast! And, let’s face it, given the chilly temps we’ve “enjoyed” (Ha!) here in Tuscaloosa in recent weeks, a nice, hot breakfast can’t be beat. It’s not sweetened, but obviously it can be – just add as much, or as little sugar as you like.

Bon appétit!

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Druid City Living (DCL) is Tuscaloosa, Alabama's premier community newspaper, covering the great people, places and activities of the area.

 

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