Oh no, coconut oil is a saturated fat! Research from Walter Willet, M.D, Harvard School of Health.

 

Have you noticed, like I have, that coconut oil seems to be catching on? In a newsletter from W.C. Willett, M.D., Harvard School of Public Health, “Coconut oil is about 90% saturated fat, which is a higher percentage than butter (about 64% saturated fat), beef fat (40%), or even lard (also 40%). Too much saturated fat in the diet is unhealthy because it raises “bad” LDL cholesterol levels, which increases the risk of heart disease.” Because of the number of carbon atoms in the fat molecule, it

gives good HDL cholesterol a boost.

cocoanutoil

But, for now, Dr. Willet advises to use coconut oil sparingly. Most of the research so far has consisted of short-term studies to examine its effect on cholesterol levels. To quote Willet, “We don’t really know how coconut oil affects heart disease. And I don’t think coconut oil is as healthful as vegetable oils like olive oil and soybean oil, which are mainly unsaturated fat and therefore both lower LDL and increase HDL. Coconut oil’s special HDL-boosting effect may make it “less bad” than the high saturated fat content would indicate, but it’s still probably not the best choice among the many available oils to reduce the risk of heart disease.”

 

Advertisements

My turn to bring food to Fellowship Hour– this is a spinach, mozzarella, egg casserole.

In addition to this casserole, I’ll bring a fruit tray and muffins.

spinach and mozzarella egg bake

Ingredients for a Spinach-Mozzarella_Egg casserole:

  • 5 oz. organic fresh spinach (4 cups packed)
  • 1-2 tsp. olive oil (depending on your pan)
  • 1 1/2 cups mozzarella (I used a mozzarella blend from Costco; use regular or part-skim Mozzarella, your choice)
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 8 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp. Spike seasoning (or use any all purpose seasoning mix that’s good with eggs)
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F/190C.  Spray an 8 1/2 inch by 12 inch glass or crockery casserole dish with olive oil or nonstick spray.
  2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add spinach all at once, and stir just until the spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes.  Transfer spinach to the casserole dish, spreading it around so all the bottom of the dish is covered.  Layer the grated cheese and sliced onions on top of the spinach.
  3. Beat the eggs with Spike Seasoning (or other seasoning mix) and salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.  (I use only a tiny pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper.)  Pour the egg mixture over the spinach/cheese combination, and then use a fork to gently “stir” so the eggs, spinach, and cheese are evenly combined.
  4. Bake about 35 minutes or until the mixture is completely set and starting to lightly brown.  Let cool about 5 minutes before cutting.  (The egg bake will settle down some as it cools.)  Serve hot.  This is good with sour cream.

7-layer Mexican Dip, a lighter version

On Saturday I’m talking on the topic of Writing Dialogue for Romance at East Valley Authors (the EVA chapter of RWA). I’m also bringing food which has to be Mexican on Cinco de Mayo. Everyone loves this fun party dip, even writers! I keep it light by serving it with reduced-fat, salt-free blue corn chips.

7-layer-dip

Instructions

  1. Make guacamole: Mash avocado, lime juice, cilantro and salsa together.
  2. In small bowl, blend sour cream with taco seasoning.
  3. Spread the refried beans in the bottom of a deep-dish pie plate (you can warm the beans up in the microwave briefly to make them more spreadable.)
  4. Top the beans with the sour cream mixture, then top that with the guacamole.
  5. Spread the tomatoes on top, then sprinkle the green onions over the top, followed by the shredded cheese and black olives if desired.
  6. Serve with reduced-fat tortilla chips or reduced-fat crackers.Amazon (1)

Are you looking for a vegan chili recipe for Super Bowl Sunday?

Game-day snacks will make Super Bowl more fun and delicious. Here’s a popular menu– chili, cornbread, 7-layer dip/chips, guacamole, salad, and cookies.  If your party is potluck and guests are bringing chili, you might make vegan chili in addition to theirs. Here’s a recipe courtesy of Genius Recipes: chili bowl

Ingredients:

Directions:

Pour boiling water over textured vegetable protein and let stand until softened. Braise vegetables in a pan.  Add remaining ingredients and simmer for at least 30 minutes.  It’s important to give chili a cute name.  I’m calling mine, Big Score Vegan Chili.

superbowl

If you enjoy reading, consider joining a book club!

Besides the fact that reading a book with friends is fun, strong friendships develop.  For me getting together is more important than the book choice.  According to the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, regular get-togethers are important for health reasons.  Their large scale study showed that connected people have 22% lower stress hormones.  This slows the aging process for skin and organs explains the coauthor Lynne C. Giles, PhD.  That’s amazing– we can reduce wrinkles with strong friendships.

books.gif

Tofu Triangles with Peanut Sauce

So delicious an healthy– ingredients and recipe are courtesy of the Mayo Clinic.

Tofu-Triangles

  • 1 package(s) tofu, firm
    (14 ounces), drained
  • 1 teaspoon oil, peanut
    or sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoon soy sauce, less sodium
  • 2 tablespoon peanut butter, natural
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar, rice wine
  • 2 tablespoon sugar, brown
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper, red flakes
  • 4 medium scallion(s) (green onions)
    finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup(s) water
  • 2 teaspoon sesame seeds, toasted

Instructions

Serves 6

Slice the tofu crosswise into 1/2-inch slabs. Then cut each slab into 2 triangles. Blot with paper towels. Spray a large skillet with cooking spray. Heat the pan over medium to high heat and add the oil. When hot, add the tofu and fry over medium-high heat until golden. Turn and cook on the second side.

While the tofu is cooking, combine soy sauce, peanut butter, vinegar, brown sugar, pepper flakes, two green onions and water in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.

When the tofu is lightly browned, pour the sauce over the tofu and cook until bubbling. Turn off the heat, scatter the remaining green onions and sesame seeds over the top and serve.

Beef Wellington– not as difficult as I thought!

If you like you can make individual Wellingtons with this recipe– or just one large one.

beef wellington

1 pound cremini mushrooms (coarsely chopped)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons chives (minced)
½ cup whole milk
¼ cup water
4 tablespoons butter (melted, plus more if needed for pans)
2 pounds filet mignon
to taste salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup whole-grain Dijon mustard
½ pound prosciutto di Parma
1 sheet puff pastry (thawed)
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon whole milk
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Place beef in a small baking dish, and spread with 2 tablespoons softened butter. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until browned. Remove from pan, and allow to cool completely. Reserve pan juices.
  2. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium heat. Saute onion and mushrooms in butter for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and let cool.
  3. Mix together pate and 2 tablespoons softened butter, and season with salt and pepper. Spread pate over beef. Top with onion and mushroom mixture.
  4. Roll out the puff pastry dough, and place beef in the center. Fold up, and seal all the edges, making sure the seams are not too thick. Place beef in a 9×13 inch baking dish, cut a few slits in the top of the dough, and brush with egg yolk.
  5. Bake at 450 degrees F (230 degrees C) for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C) for 10 to 15 more minutes, or until pastry is a rich, golden brown. Set aside, and keep warm.
  6. Place all reserved juices in a small saucepan over high heat. Stir in beef stock and red wine; boil for 10 to 15 minutes, or until slightly reduced. Strain, and serve with beef.

Consider entering the 2018 Orange Rose Contest for Unpublished Writers of Romance– here’s why…

If you are an unpublished author in any romance genre and want to get your manuscript in front of an agent or publisher, get ready to enter the 2018 Orange Rose Contest. 

Hey!

I am Kathleen Rowland and want to help you succeed. 

The 35th Contest for Unpublished Writers opens on January 15, 2018. The Orange Rose Contest is one of the programs hosted by the Orange County Chapter of Romance Writers of America® that helps fulfill our purpose of promoting excellence in romantic fiction and advancing the professional interests of career-focused romance writers. Our contest has been fortunate to realize a high level of popularity and success due to the exceptional quality of our participating judges. Mid-January is when you can download score sheets from OCCRWA.org and submit your beginning pages with a brief synopsis before the contest closes at the end of April. Did you know agents and editors seek fresh, vibrant, and unique voices? Is this you?  This contest gives every author who enters three critiques.  Authors in the final round will receive critiques from editors or agents in their category. 

Would you like to know what qualities and tropes publishers are looking for right now? As the 2018 chair for this contest, I am sharing this insider information to help you make your big dream come true.

·       Strong conflicts where the characters’ goals are in opposition to one another

·       Physical action-oriented heroines (martial artists, MMA fighters, etc.)

·       Enemies-to-friends-to-lovers romances

·       Adventure quest style romances (think Indiana Jones or Ready Player One but with more kissing!)

·       1930s-style fast patter bantering

·       Diverse romances that showcase heritage, ethnicity and cultural practices

·       Romances that also feature very strong friendships/BFF characters

·       Gender role reversals or defiance of gender role stereotypes ( i.e. biker heroine, preschool teacher hero)

·       Post-apocalyptic romances grounded in realism (think Battlestar Galactica)

·       Couples who aren’t interested in a nuclear family-style existence

 

Here are qualities and tropes that editors and agents are presently not looking for:

·       First-person POV (usually better suited for New Adult, chick lit or women’s fiction than romance)

·       One or more “evil exes” as the main source of conflict to a romance — the conflict should be interpersonal between your leads.

·       Telling rather than showing and long exposition/information dumps

·       Characters without any goals besides finding love

·       Alpha heroes that are insulting and condescending to their heroines

·       Couples that fall into insta-love when they meet and never truly face any conflict

·       Relationships where the characters’ only bar to getting together is fear from past bad relationships (Everyone has insecurity and angst, but the only way a character can resolve these things is through internal epiphany. That isn’t enough to hang a story on.)

Expanding my horizons– writing a book taking place in Cuba

Are you considering travel to Cuba? Or better yet, have you been there? I’d love to hear what you enjoyed about Cuba. Travel agencies are responding to the high demand for educational journeys to this cultural gem. Cruising to and around the island country is the most popular. I’d love to explore the coast between Havana and Santiago de Cuba.  There’s a nature reserve on Isla de la Juventud, and that is only accessible by sea.  There are getting off the ship points in order to connect with Cuban people and their culture.  Visitors learn about arts, history, cigar production, baseball, and Ernest Hemingway when he lived in Cuba.

Neighbors who told traveled to Cuba a few months ago raved about the sweetness of Cubans. I hope all is stable politically so that we can continue a connection with Cubans and their way of life which is very restrictive under communism.  This aspect is an underlying theme in my book, One Night in Havana, coming soon from Tirgearr Publishing.

Havana

 

Are you using apples from your tree? Try baked apples!

When we bought this house four years ago, we had a half-dead apple tree.  After puning, it started bearing apples.  The apples are something close to golden delicious and holds its shape when baked. If you have a surplus of apples, bake them with cherries and almonds for a lovely dessert.
bakedapple

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup(s) cherries, dried
    coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoon nuts, almonds, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon wheat germ
  • 1 tablespoon sugar, brown (packed)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, ground
  • 6 small apple(s), Golden Delicious
    about 1 3/4 pounds total weight
  • 1/2 cup(s) juice, apple
  • 1/4 cup(s) water
  • 2 tablespoon honey, dark
  • 2 teaspoon oil, walnut
    or canola oil

Instructions

Serves 6

    • Preheat the oven to 350 F.

In a small bowl, toss together the cherries, almonds, wheat germ, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg until all the ingredients are evenly distributed. Set aside.

The apples can be left unpeeled, if you like. To peel the apples in a decorative fashion, with a vegetable peeler or a sharp knife, remove the peel from each apple in a circular motion, skipping every other row so that rows of peel alternate with rows of apple flesh. Working from the stem end, core each apple, stopping 3/4 inch from the bottom.

Divide the cherry mixture evenly among the apples, pressing the mixture gently into each cavity. Arrange the apples upright in a heavy ovenproof frying pan or small baking dish just large enough to hold them. Pour the apple juice and water into the pan. Drizzle the honey and oil evenly over the apples, and cover the pan snugly with aluminum foil. Bake until the apples are tender when pierced with a knife, 50 to 60 minutes.

Transfer the apples to individual plates and drizzle with the pan juices. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serving size: 1 apple