MULLED APPLE CIDER – A Hot Drink For A Cold Night!

apple cider textWhat could be better on a chilly evening than sipping a nice mug of MULLED APPLE CIDER?! (You could even add in a dash of an adult beverage, if you like.)

This is very easy to put together…if you don’t make your own cider (Yes, I actually used to make cider from 400 lbs of organic apples every year.)

MULLED APPLE CIDER – makes 32 oz

  • 32 oz apple cider
  • 2 whole cinnamon sticks
  • 3 allspice balls
  • 3 whole cloves
  • about 4 thin slices of an unpeeled orange

Into a saucepan combine all of the ingredients and bring to a boil. apple cider2Cover and decrease heat enought to maintain a low simmer. (Make sure you cover the pot while cooking the cider. The first time I made it, I left it uncovered and most of the liquid evaporated.) Cook 30 minutes. Done.






Late afternoon is a dangerous time. It’s been hours since lunch and stomachs start getting a little rumbly.

It’s tempting to just grab a cookie or donut (my personal favorite!) to tide us over until dinner. We even rationalize that the sugar boost will cure the lagging energy. If only!

Then I saw the commercial where the guy gets slapped in the head and says, “Wow, I coulda had a V8!”

Extra veggies (and, yes, I’m aware tomatoes are a fruit). Low cal. Delicious pick-me-up with a kick. WOW! I’m gonna have a V8…homemade, of course.

I came up with a recipe that I love, but tweak it to suit yourself. I suggest you peel the tomatoes, then shake out the seeds. These don’t purée well and you’ll get bits on your tongue. However, they are extra fibre, so if you don’t mind them, save yourself a little work.

Note: This makes a good Bloody Mary mix. Just sayin’.

TOMATO-VEG COCKTAIL – makes about 3¾ cups

  • 1½ lbs tomatoes (2 large), skinned, seeded, and chopped in large chunks
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 2 T red beet, skinned
  • 1/2 cup spinach, sliced
  • 2 T parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup red pepper, peeled & chopped
  • 3 stalks chopped celery, center strings removed
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1½ cups water
  • juice from 1 lime
  • 1 tsp Tabasco sauce
  • 1½ T vegetarian Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Put the tomato, carrot, beet, spinach, parsley, red pepper, celery, onion, and water into a large saucepan. Bring to boil, cover, reduce heat to simmer, and let cook for 20 minutes. Stir now and then. Turn off burner and let mixture cool with cover on.

Pour into a blender or food processor and purée. Add in lime juice, Tabasco, Worcestershire, and sea salt. Blend on low speed. Adjust seasonings, if needed.

Refrigerate until it’s super cold.





When Is Dessert Not A Dessert? When It’s A Yogurt Shake!


Yogurt Shake

Yogurt Shake

Hold onto your hats, Ladies and Gents: I have a recipe so yummy you’ll swear it’s a dessert!!!

(Insert trumpet fanfare.)


(Insert cheers and applause.)

It all started years ago when my children were very young. They were adorable. They were smart…And (big sigh!) they were picky eaters.

My challenge was to find healthy foods that they would actually eat.  I was bound and determined not fall prey to Tired Mom Syndrome.  Never heard of it?  That’s because I just made up the term.  But the symptoms of TMS are well known: exhaustion due to chronic chauffeuring, cleaning, cooking, refereeing, helping with homework, and on and on.  So when mealtime comes around, all we want is for them to eat.

Tired Moms often go for the easy fix: fish sticks, tater tots, Happy Meals, boxed mac ‘n cheese, and peanut butter in which sugar, oil, and salt have been added.  These foods (and I use the term loosely) taste great – which is all they’re meant to do. A cycle develops wherein the kids have gotten used to preservative filled, sugar laden, nutritionless (I made that up, too) meals and refuse to eat the healthy foods over which mom labors. It becomes a math equation: hungry child = cranky child = cranky adults = junk food = happy child.

So I looked for ways to apply the substitution principle (See what I’m doing?  I’m keeping the math metaphor going!) by replacing “junk food” with “healthy food”.  NOT AN EASY TASK!

One food I desperately wanted my children to eat was yogurt. My Armenian father made it when I was growing up, and I carried on the tradition – although I make mine in a thermos as opposed to the oven, where he did. Click on YOGURT MADE IN A THERMOS to watch my video. Yogurt is a multifaceted superfood. Studies have shown that people who regularly eat yogurt live longer and healthier.

However, unlike store bought,  homemade yogurt has a bite to it, so it takes some getting used to. This is something for which kids have no patience. Sadly, touting the health benefits of foods falls on deaf little ears, followed by “I wanna go to McDonalds!”

So I started making yogurt fruit smoothies as our evening beverage BUT, since perception is everything, I called them Yogurt SHAKES. My kids were quite familiar with the word “shake” – associating it with other words such as “ice cream”, “dessert”, and “delicious”. No need to bother them with facts. (We moms sometimes have to be a little sneaky…. but the kids will thank us later.)  Continuing with my crafty ways, I did make a point to leave the word “yogurt” – I wanted them to have positive thoughts about it.

One of the things I love about Yogurt Shakes is that they’re an easy way to fulfill those pesky daily fruit requirements. If you’re adventurous, you can even throw in spinach or kale. (I’m not that brave. I live by the motto: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!) Use any fruit you like but, unless you have an aversion or allergy, a banana is a must. There’s something magical about the interaction between the ice cubes and a banana that produces a creamy shake instead of one filled with annoying ice chunks.

Yogurt Shakes are made in a blender. If you have one of those jet-engine blenders (like I do), you’ll have no problem getting a creamy chunk-free shake. But if you have a cheapy one (I have one of those, too), you might want to invest in an inexpensive ice crusher….or a hammer and a sturdy plastic bag, and break up the ice cubes before putting them in the blender. Even with a banana, the motor just isn’t powerful enough to completely purée  the ice. If you don’t mind the odd ice chunk, don’t worry about it.

Although I occasionally change up the fruit, this is my go-to Yogurt Shake recipe.  I always add a packet per person of Emergen C – I’ve found it not only enhances the flavor, but it’s another way to add vitamins into our diets.

YOGURT SHAKE – for 1 person

  • 1 large spoonful nonfat plain yogurt
  • 4 strawberries
  • 1 large handful blueberries
  • 1 banana
  • splash pomegranite juice
  • splash orange juice
  • optional: 1 packet pomegranite-cranberry Emergen C
  • about 6 ice cubes – more ice cubes will yield a thicker shake

Mix everything in the blender on medium/high.  Serve immediately.

Yogurt Shakes are easy, nonfat, frosty, creamy, and nutritious. But more importantly, they’re something you and your children can enjoy guilt free.  How often does THAT happen?!