Happy 4th of July!

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Wishing all our American neighbours a wonderful Independence Day! Loved this tribute to the flag.

Doh!! Sorry to all, that’s what I get for trying to post from my phone. Here is a picture of the flag that I thought was great!

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Push Yourself

push yourself

Yep – think this about says it all. Whether it’s exercise, making a career change, taking a new class, making a new friend, no one else can do it for you. You can have people cheering you on, you can have people running along side you, you can have people supporting you and encouraging you. You can have people holding you up when things get tough, but if you can’t dig deep, if you can’t find the push to make yourself go forward in this life you are just going to stand still. And let me tell you…I’m learning that going forward is scary, but fufilling. In the end, there are lots of people I can thank for their support, but in the end I have to PUSH MYSELF to make changes and reach the goals I have set.

And if I can do it…so can you.

Wishes for 2013

As 2012 rounds out and 2013 is soon to be ushered in we hope any reflections you have on the past year are good ones. Even the challenges we have had to face often make us stronger. And really without the challenges, would the victories be as sweet?

We want to wish you all health and happiness in the coming year. A year filled with friends, family, love, memories and strength. May 2013 bring you all more than you could dream possible.

Enjoy your evening, and don’t forget if your drinking alcohol, drink your water!! It will make tomorrow morning much more pleasant!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Feeling Punchy

Today we introduce the first of our recipes. Our hopes are to introduce you to options to substitute current items in your pantry and to give you ideas to inspire you, so that you may get out there and try new things and, knowing your own personal and family interests and tastes, encourage you to make some of your own creations.

Every family has unique tastes. Belive me, I know. I’ll be introducing four healthier drinks (mix them in a bowl with a ladle and we can call them punches) to try. In our family the range is Izzy who loves them all to Dana who doesn’t like any of them. My hopes are that you will find one that you like, maybe, even one you can come to love.

Tips for all of the recipes:

  • If you start with cold ingredients (soda and juices) there will be less chilling required and therefore less ice to water down the flavours, and less fizziness lost while it chills in the fridge.
  • When adding a fruit to the drink ensure it has been washed prior to freezing (cranberries), and consider –  in the case of the orange slices – buying organic. Often in the cases of oranges, because the skin is peeled, we don’t have to be as concerned with pesticides, waxes and colourants. However, because we are using the slices with the skin on in this drink, this would be a good time to consider purchasing organic. If not purchasing organic than, ensure that the fruit      has been scrubbed and rinsed well.
  • Read your labels when purchasing the juices you will use. While I would normally encourage limiting or excluding juices all together from your diet, these drinks are still treats and used to help us celebrate an occasion. I used POM, Oasis Deliciously Yellow and Oasis Cranberry, They are the lesser of many evils. With the exception of a natural food store, I don’t know if you can find a cranberry juice that doesn’t contain a juice blend – cranberries are exceptionally tart and not really a fruit whose juice you would normally drink on it’s own. Avoid juices with the words “cocktails” and “juice drink” which are generally nothing more than sugar water with concentrated flavouring, and sometimes not even natural flavouring!
  • All of these recipes can be easily doubled.
  • I have used Club Soda, you can use Sparkling Mineral Water if you prefer. Perrier, etc, just don’t use a flavoured one. Tonic Water is not the same and will increase the sugar. Also, don’t be concerned about the sodium in Club soda. Most  have less in one cup than orange juice does (Compliments brand has 15mg/250mL)

On to the fun….

The ingredients:

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The tools:

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The help!:

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The results:

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The first is as close to a true “ginger ale” that I think you will find. It is also the only one with sugar added that is not naturally occurring in the juices. I have added a splash of cranberry juice for colour, it is optional. Also, this is using fresh ginger so add to taste, and remember ginger can add a heat if too much is used. This is where I have to be careful, because in the last six months I have fallen head over heels in love with fresh ginger.

Ginger (and Cranberry) Fizz:

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Ingredients:

1L of Club Soda

4-5 slices of candied ginger (can be found at the bulk barn)

1.5-2 tablespoons of fresh grated ginger

1 cup of cranberry juice

1 cup of frozen cranberries for decoration

Steps:

¼ the candied ginger slices and macerate them in the punch bowl or pitcher that you plan on using with a small amount of the club soda. (see pic below)

Add the club soda

Peel and grate the fresh ginger, start with a little and add to taste (see pic below)

add the cranberry juice (optional)

stir gently

add the frozen cranberries, these are for looks and to add a chilling factor that doesn’t melt so they are totally optional

Chill for 30 mins, add ice as needed prior to serving

The candied ginger:

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Cut and with the club soda, I mash it a little to soften it, and release the ginger flavour and the sugar off the pieces

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The fresh ginger peeled and grated

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Pomegranate Punch:

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This is by far the easiest of the recipes, it is also possibly the one that would require a special palate as it is a little tangy.

Ingredients and steps:

1 L of Club Soda

1 c of POM

Seeds of ½ a pomegranate (optional, are for looks but are entirely edible) If you are not familiar with fresh pomegranates, see how to choose one here.

Stir gently

add ice

Your done!

If it is too tangy mashing the pomegranate seeds gently before hand will help a little. This one looks neat served in a tall pitcher as the seeds will travel up and down with the air bubbles.

I enjoy Club Soda and POM so you can try this and tweak it before ever introducing it to the family. Also if you are going to have an alcoholic punch, this may be your best choice. A sweeter white wine, may complement it as it will tame the tanginess and you still have the benefits of the antioxidants found in the pomegranate juice and seeds.Just be warned, if you add the wine, limit your intake. There’s nothing like a glass or two of any alcoholic beverage to weaken the resolve and tempt the palette to try other “tasty” dishes that may be in close proximity to the punch bowl 🙂

How to seed a pomegranate:

Be warned: don’t attempt this while wearing white!!

Wash and with a sharp knife slice it in half

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You can now break apart the halves, turn them upside down and tap the skin with the back of a spoon, this will help loosen them and knock many of them out. You will still have to pick through them to loosen some though.

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In the end you’ll have approx 1 cup of seeds. They are tasty, juicy and with a bit of crunch when you get to the centre. Toss on a salad those that you don’t use. As you can see, some people have a hard time resisting 🙂

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Cranberry – Orange

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Ingredients and Steps:

1L Club Soda

2 cups Cranberry juice

1 cup Oasis Deliciously Yellow

1 orange

Mix the juices, add the club soda, chill, add ice and thinly sliced orange slices prior to serving.

Pineapple – Orange

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1L Club Soda

1- 1½ cups of Oasis Deliciously Yellow

½  Fresh Pineapple or to taste

You can choose to slice and freeze the fresh pineapple prior to making the punch so that it can be added afterwards in place of ice or add the pineapple to the club soda and juice mixture, be sure it is chilled or to add ice prior to serving. See how to choose a pineapple here and tips on cutting one here.

So there you have four options. None will taste as sugary or as bubbly as the punch many of us are familiar with. The Cranberry – Orange was the favourite in our house and probably most imitated the traditional punch. The pomegranate (minus alcohol) would be a fine treat to have, especially if you are trying to kick the pop habit. The pineapple – orange was enjoyed by the family, but I found it too sweet personally. My favourite, and Dave’s second favourite was the “Ginger Fizz”.

Let us know what you think. Do you like the recipes? Are you wiling to brave them? Have you tried them or tweaked them? Do you have a healthy alternative that you offer guests?