Morning Glory Muffins with half the sugar

Who’s ready to bake now that the temps outside are getting cooler? The amount of sugar in these morning glory muffins is cut in half, but you can’t even taste the difference. Plus, ingredients such as whole-wheat flour, carrots and apples make this hearty fall treat something you can feel good about eating. Read on for the recipe.

MorningGloryMuffins

Recipe makeover: Morning-glory muffins
*Makes 18 small muffins
Original ingredients Healthier options Comments
2 cups all-purpose flour 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1 cup whole-wheat flour Substituting whole-wheat flour for half the all-purpose flour will increase the muffins’ fiber content.
1 1/2 cups sugar 3/4 cup sugar Cutting the sugar in half reduces calories, and there are ways to make up for the sweetness with spices.
2 teaspoons baking soda No change Don’t reduce the baking soda, a leavening agent, or the muffins may be too flat or dense.
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon Doubling the cinnamon enhances the sweetness on your tongue, helping make up for halving the amount of sugar.
1/2 teaspoon salt Omit You can get rid of the extra sodium from the salt because the baking soda contains sodium and provides leavening.
3 large eggs 3/4 cup egg substitute Replacing each egg with 1/4 egg substitute will reduce saturated fat and cholesterol.
1 cup vegetable oil 1/2 cup vegetable oil and 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce Cutting the oil in half and making up the difference with unsweetened applesauce, will reduce fat and help keep the muffins moist.
1/2 cup coconut Omit Leaving out coconut will cut saturated fat and calories.
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 teaspoons vanilla extract Doubling the vanilla will enhance the sweetness and more than make up for cutting the amount of sugar.
2 cups peeled and chopped apple 2 cups chopped apple (unpeeled) Leaving the skin on the apples is an easy way to increase the muffins’ fiber content.
1/2 cup raisins No change Don’t increase the amount of raisins. Raisins are calorie/energy dense, meaning they have a lot of calories in just a small portion.
1/2 cup grated carrots 3/4 cup grated carrots By bumping up the amount of carrots in your recipe, you’ll increase nutrients, such as vitamin A and fiber, and compensate in flavor for the omitted coconut.
1/2 cup chopped pecans 2 tablespoons chopped pecans Cutting back on the pecans will reduce fat and calories.

 

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a muffin pan with paper or foil liners. In a large bowl, combine the flours, sugar, baking soda and cinnamon. Whisk to blend evenly. In a separate bowl, add the egg substitute, oil, applesauce and vanilla. Stir in the apples, raisins and carrots. Add to the flour mixture and blend just until moistened but still slightly lumpy. Spoon the batter into muffin cups, filling each cup about 2/3 full. Sprinkle with chopped pecans and bake until springy to the touch, about 35 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes, then transfer the muffins to a wire rack and let cool completely.

Nutrition analysis per serving (1 muffin): 175 calories, 7 g total fat (0.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 4 g monounsaturated fat), 0 mg cholesterol, 163 mg sodium, 25 g total carbohydrate (2 g dietary fiber, 8 g sugars), 3 g protein

What you save: 125 calories, 10 g of fat, 31 mg of cholesterol, 67 mg of sodium and 13 g of table sugar in each muffin.

Note: If 18 muffins are too many, freeze the ones you won’t eat to preserve the freshness. Then grab them from the freezer as needed and pop in the microwave to warm up slightly before serving.

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Have you noticed Coconut Chicken is the rage these days?

Do you want to try an easy Coconut Chicken recipe?  This one features soba noodles, but any noodles work fine here.

coconutchicken

Ingredients to serve 6:

  • 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 pound mini sweet peppers
  • 4 scallions
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 box (12 oz) soba noodles (such as Annie Chun’s)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 can (13.5 oz) light coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • Cilantro, for garnish

Directions

  1. Heat a grill or grill pan to medium-high and brush grate with oil. In a small bowl, combine 1 tbsp of the brown sugar, 1/4 tsp of the salt and 1/8 tsp of the cayenne. Rub onto chicken breasts. Grill chicken over medium-high heat 5 to 6 minutes per side, until cooked through.
  2. Toss peppers and scallions in 1 tsp of the vegetable oil. Skewer peppers and grill 4 minutes; flip and grill another 4 minutes. Grill scallions 2 minutes
  3. stems, and chop scallions.
  4. Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add soba and cook 4 to 5 minutes, until tender. Drain and rinse immediately under cold water.
  5. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Toast coconut 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove to a plate. Add remaining 1 tsp oil to skillet. Add garlic and ginger to skillet; sauté 1 minute. Pour in coconut milk, lime juice, fish sauce, remaining 1 tbsp brown sugar, remaining 1/4 tsp salt and remaining 1/8 tsp cayenne. Bring to a simmer. Mix cornstarch with 1 tsp cold water. Add to mixture and simmer 2 minutes, until thickened.
  6. In a large bowl, toss sauce with chicken, peppers, scallions and soba. Divide among 6 bowls and garnish with coconut and cilantro.

Nutrition Information for Coconut Chicken Soba Noodles

Servings Per Recipe: 6 PER SERVING: 440 cal., 10 g total fat (5 g sat. fat), 85 mg chol., 880 mg sodium, 52 g carb. (5 g fiber), 35 g pro.

 

Do you want to try something a little different? How about Coconut Chicken?

The crunchy outside makes Coconut Chicken delicious beyond description.  I’m serving this dish with brown rice, broccoli, and Waldorf Salad– celery, grapes, pineapple on top of greens.

Ingredients to serve 4:

2- 8 oz boneless chicken breasts, scant amount of minced garlic, dashes of Italian seasoning, cinnamon, paprika. Rub with coconut oil, sprinkle with 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut.

Directions:  Bake at 350 degrees until cooked through.

coconutchicken

 

 

Have you ever eaten farro?

Have you noticed farro is taking over the trendy vegan salads on menus? Once in a while I order a vegan or vegetarian selection. Sometimes farro is used a substitute for pasta or rice, farro is a grain with a nutty flavor similar to brown rice. It is rich in fiber, magnesium and vitamins A, B, C, and E.

farrothe front yard

Farro is an ancient grain, first domesticated 10,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent, has been found in Egyptian tombs, and is believed to have sustained the Roman legions. Today, farro grows in central northern Italy. These areas at one time wer impoverished area, and the longevity of people there were attributed to farro.  Have you tried it?

The salad I ordered yesterday at a restaurant in North Hollywood, The Front Yard, was their Ancient Grain mixed green concoction. Ingredients were farro, red quinoa, yellow beet, butternut squash, and pomegranate seeds. I am planning to make it at home.

 

Are you writing a series?

Are you writing a series? That’s great because after readers finish a good book, they look forward to more from you.  I’d like to share my tips.

Are you writing books in a series- (3)

Each book in a series must be a stand-alone.  There can be an open-ended question, and I deliver the answer in the next book. Some authors who write a series have a mystery arching over the entire series that is answered in the final book. 

If your series involves one character or a couple, write a happily for now ending rather than a happily ever after.  My method is to change up the hero and heroine by writing a series with male cousins.  This ensures some consistency across the series because the heroes are ex-military, honorable and courageous.  As a writer of a series you need to keep track of the family tree, physical attributes, and locations.  Consider using an Excel spreadsheet to maintain details.  In my case I need to know ages of the characters and stomping grounds of their childhoods.

Consider what is logical.   You’ve created a certain community and premise and must keep actions plausible.  The technology your characters use reflects the world they live in.  Their dialect must be consistent. Are they middle class or are they millionaires?

Have fun with your book series.

Do you want to take advantage of coupon sales on Smashwords? Here’s how.

How do I purchase a book on Smashwords? 
First, register for a free account. This allows Smashwords to create a permanent online library where you can access your purchased books in any format. At the top right of every book page is a shopping cart logo. Simply click on it to purchase the book and then enter your credit card information and follow the simple instructions.

How do I access my shopping cart? 
When you purchase a book, you click the shopping cart icon on the upper right side of the page and it takes you to your shopping cart.   

How do I download books to my Kindle or Kindle Fire?
You’ll find links to all your purchased books in your Smashwords Library. There are two options for loading Smashwords ebook content to your Kindle or Kindle Fire:

1.  USB Connection.  Plug your Kindle into the USB slot (small rectangular slot) of your computer using the cable that came with your Kindle (the Kindle Fire doesn’t come standard with the USB cable, so you’ll need to obtain the cable separately, or, use the email option described in #2 below). When you attach your Kindle to your computer via the USB cable, it makes your Kindle appear as a hard drive on your computer. After you purchase the book, from the book’s book page click to download the “Kindle” .MOBI format. Next, navigate to where you see the Kindle show up as a hard drive on your computer. Next, just drop the book’s file (it should end in file name of .mobi) to the Kindle’s “documents” folder. Then disconnect the Kindle from your computer and the book will be ready to read.  

2.  Email the Ebook to Your Kindle Email Address:  For both first generation Kindles and the newest Kindle Fire, you can email your Smashwords .mobi files to your Kindle email address. 

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/706264  Unholy Alliance

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/600768  Deadly Alliance

Unholy is $2!

Deadly is $2!

 

Here’s a lighter version of Summertime Corn-tomato chowder

I’m making this tonight– corn chowder with a bit of zesty Mexican seasoning, dapted from This is a Cookbook, by Max Sussman and Eli Sussman.

corn-tomato soup

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe but firm tomatoes
  • Kernels from 6 ears of fresh corn (about 3 cups)
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • About 2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, plus more as needed
  • 1 tsp. chipotle chili powder
  • 1 tsp. salt, plus more, to taste
  • 1 cup low fat milk (original recipe was heavy cream)
  • Sliced avocado for garnish
  • Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
  • Paprika for garnish

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe but firm tomatoes
  • Kernels from 6 ears of fresh corn (about 3 cups)
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • About 2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, plus more as needed
  • 1 tsp. chipotle chili powder
  • 1 tsp. salt, plus more, to taste
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Sliced avocado for garnish
  • Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
  • Paprika for garnish

 

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 375°F. Put the tomatoes in a lightly greased glass baking dish. Roast until the skins darken and the tomatoes are caramelized, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Keep the oven on. Spread the corn in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast until the edges begin to turn golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, when the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, peel off the skins and discard. Set the flesh, with the juices, aside in the baking dish. Remove the corn from the oven and let cool. Place 1 bell pepper on each of 2 gas burners. Turn the burners on high and sear the peppers directly over the flame, using tongs to turn as needed, until the skins are blackened all over, 10 to 15 minutes total. (Or place the peppers under the broiler and broil, turning as needed, until charred and blistered on all sides, about 15 minutes.) Transfer the peppers to a brown paper bag and close tightly. Let stand for 15 minutes, then remove the peppers from the bag. Remove and discard the skins, core and seeds. In a soup pot, combine the tomatoes, bell peppers, yellow and red onions, garlic and corn, reserving a handful of the roasted corn for garnish. Add just enough broth to cover the vegetables and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook until the vegetables are very tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the chili powder and the 1 tsp. salt. Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until smooth. While blending, slowly drizzle in the cream. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt. Ladle the soup into individual bowls. Garnish each portion with a couple of avocado slices, a few drops of olive oil, a scattering of the reserved roasted corn and a sprinkle of paprika. Serve hot. Serves 4.

The debate is on—Parasites in Raw Fish

You might recall the warning from fifteen years ago from the World Health Organization that smoked, pickled, and undercooked fish contains parasites.  This hit home recently when a friend who adores sushi complained of pain in her ribs and made a medical appointment.  An increased number of white blood cells indicated an infection.  It was only after she told her doctor she consumed raw fish regularly did her doctor suspect an infestation of anisakiasis nematodes (worms) in her stomach lining and intestines.  Two drugs (albendazole and mebendazole) are fast-acting and also used by WHO, thanks to donations from GlaxoSmithKline and Johnson & Johnson. If left untreated, the parasites invade other organs including the brain.

Sea mammals such as seals act as the parasites’ hosts, and dissections from marine biologists tell us the problem is worldwide.

I get ideas for villains from current news topics. In my work-in-progress, Bittersweet Alliance, the serial killer serves Poke (raw fish appetizers popular in Hawaii) to kidnapped victims.  After ransoms are paid, the victims return home with severe worm infestation in their brains.  Surgical procedures to remove (massive numbers of) parasites leave victims’ brains impaired.  The serial killer leaves victims brain-dead and is using a popular food where the book is set, the Big Island of Hawaii.

raw fish appetizers

The lobster roll– do you prefer Maine or Connecticut style?

That’s right, two styles compete, but both includes heaps of sweet lobster meat piled onto a soft, buttery bun. Wherever you are, the lobster roll is served with hot French fries, and you’ll need a clear ocean view while enjoying one.  Here are the differences:
In Maine the meat is tossed with mayonnaise, tarragon and celery or scallions before it’s piled into a bun. Generally, it’s served on a “New England” or “Frankfurter” roll, which differs slightly from a standard hot dog roll in that the sides are flat and can be buttered on the outside and then lightly toasted or grilled.
In Connecticut hold the mayonnaise and bring on the butter. That’s the attitude of Connecticut-style die-hards, who believe a lobster roll served warm with butter.

Lobster restaurant

 

The Juno mission to Jupiter brings new data!

Juno mission to Jupiter delivers first science results last week. The photo below is from the JunoCam, a visible-light camera, about a NASA spacecraft.

Jupiter

This is a report from the Southwest Research Institute. In summary NASA’s Juno mission has been in orbit around Jupiter since July 2016, passing within 3,000 miles of the equatorial cloudtops. The mission was led by Dr. Scott Bolton.

King of the planets even more exotic than expected. “What we’ve learned so far is earth-shattering. Or should I say, Jupiter-shattering,” said Bolton, Juno’s principal investigator. “Discoveries about its core, composition, magnetosphere, and poles are as stunning as the photographs the mission is generating.”

The solar-powered spacecraft’s eight scientific instruments are designed to study Jupiter’s interior structure, atmosphere, and magnetosphere. Two instruments developed and led by SwRI are working in concert to study Jupiter’s auroras, the greatest light show in the solar system. The Jovian Auroral Distributions Experiment (JADE) is a set of sensors detecting the electrons and ions associated with Jupiter’s auroras. The Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph (UVS) examines the auroras in UV light to study Jupiter’s upper atmosphere and the particles that collide with it. Scientists expected to find similarities to Earth’s auroras, but Jovian auroral processes are proving puzzling.

“Although many of the observations have terrestrial analogs, it appears that different processes are at work creating the auroras,” said SwRI’s Dr. Phil Valek, JADE instrument lead. “With JADE we’ve observed plasmas upwelling from the upper atmosphere to help populate Jupiter’s magnetosphere. However, the energetic particles associated with Jovian auroras are very different from those that power the most intense auroral emissions at Earth.”

Also surprising, Jupiter’s signature bands disappear near its poles. JunoCam images show a chaotic scene of swirling storms up to the size of Mars towering above a bluish backdrop. Since the first observations of these belts and zones many decades ago, scientists have wondered how far beneath the gas giant’s swirling façade these features persist. Juno’s microwave sounding instrument reveals that topical weather phenomena extend deep below the cloudtops, to pressures of 100 bars, 100 times Earth’s air pressure at sea level.