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Raising Healthy Sprouts with Sprouted Grain

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I’m sure you’ve seen the increasingly popular trend in healthy foods – “sprouted” grains in breads, cereals, wraps, chips, etc. When I first saw this phrase on certain food items I came across while shopping in Whole Foods one day, I was expecting to see little chia pets within my food products. While sprouted grain foods may not look like a bushy head of green sprouts (the kids would love that), they are all the rage for healthier, more nutrient-dense food choices. Sprouted grains are “enzymatically alive” foods, meaning they are rich in food enzymes (easy digestion) and natural vitamins. Unfortunately, these types of enzymatic-rich foods are missing from the diets of most Americans. Believe it or not, adding sprouted grains into your family’s diet is one extremely easy way to boost health benefits without struggling to get everyone to adapt to a new “taste” of something (we all know how that goes, especially with children). Surprisingly, adding sprouted grains into my diet was one of the easiest ways to incorporate so many health benefits without noticing a difference. Read on to find out more about these miniature powerhouses of nutrition, delicious recipes, where to find products made with sprouted grains, and even how to sprout your own grains at home if you so desire. 

WHAT ARE SPROUTED GRAINS? Sprouted grains are grains that merely begin to germinate sprouts (think baby plants). The grains are placed in water for a short time, where they begin to sprout. After they are taken out of the water (once sprouting has begun), they can be eaten raw or turned into other things like flour (which is a great alternative to traditional, refined and processed flours, which are all the gossip for rumored to be the root of many food allergies and digestive issues). Think back to elementary school when we learned about seeds – picture the endosperm (the food portion of the seed for the plant). Once sprouting starts, enzyme activity in the endosperm creates simpler molecules that are easily digested by the growing plant embryo. Just as the baby plant finds these enzyme-activated simple molecules easier to digest, so too may some people. 

HEALTH BENEFITS OF SPROUTED GRAINS: Essentially, the only way to unlock the vital benefits from grains is to sprout them first. If you have not already tried adding sprouted grains into your family’s diet (or if you are still not convinced that it’s worth it), check out this long list of health benefits that sprouted grains offer us: 

• Increased vitamins and nutrients – The sprouting process apparently increases the amount and bio-availability of some vitamins (notably Vitamin C and folate) and minerals, fiber, and amino acids (important for growth and repair within the body…and also commonly lacking in grains, notably lysine), making sprouted grains a potential nutrition powerhouse.

• Increased Digestibility – Sprouting breaks down starches in grains into simple sugars so your body can digest them easily.

• Less Allergenic – sprouted grains may also be less allergenic to those with grain protein sensitivities (like gluten).

• More protein – Sprouted grains contain more protein and fewer starches than non-sprouted grain.

• Increased Absorption of Minerals – Sprouting breaks down enzyme inhibitors, so your body can more easily adsorb calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and zinc.

•Better Mineral Absorption – Sprouting neutralizes certain naturally-occurring food acids that act as “anti-nutrients” – for example, phytic acid is present on many grains and seeds, and without being rinsed or soaked off,can cause minerals to bind up, preventing the body’s ability to fully absorb them.

• Lower Glycemic Index – sprouted grains are perfect for those suffering from diabetes or other blood sugar issues, as they are lower on the glycemic index.

•Increased Antioxidants – Sprouting releases more antioxidants that are naturally stored in the grains and seeds.

• Increased Vitamins – Sprouting produces vitamin C and increases the vitamins B2, B5 & B6.

SUGGESTIONS FOR SPROUTED GRAINS: You’re probably thinking how you would even begin to incorporate sprouted grains into your diet. Sprouted grains and seeds can be delicious when eaten raw, but you can also try serving them raw as a salad, gently seasoned with salt, pepper, olive oil, and some lemon. Sprouted grains and seeds are also tasty mixed in with other vegetables, in salads, or on sandwiches. Check out the list of recipes at the end of this article to find more delicious ways to incorporate sprouted grains and seeds into your family’s diet. (Please note that cooking or using sprouted grains/seeds in baking recipes diminishes the enzymatic and nutrient properties, as heat destroys many “raw” foods).

HOW SPROUTED GRAINS BECOME “SPROUTED” (Source: The Whole Grains
Council)

While a little sprouting appears to be good for us, there’s a sweet spot. Just the right amount of time, temperature, and moisture are necessary to start the germination process. Too much moisture, and the grain drowns, with the seed splitting open not from the force of an emerging, vibrant seedling but instead, simply from waterlogged swelling. Or, the sprout may begin to emerge but then, if the moisture source is not removed, it can begin to ferment or even to rot. Time is important, too – if a healthy sprout continues to grow indefinitely, it becomes a new grass stalk, losing its digestibility, since humans can’t properly digest grasses. 

Fortunately, companies marketing sprouted grains today don’t simply leave their grains randomly in the field. They sprout their grains under carefully-controlled conditions, with just the right amount of moisture and warmth, until the important enzymatic processes are at their peak, and then they use the sprouted grains to make products.

DRY OR WET? Companies making sprouted grain products currently use two different
approaches – dry and wet – once the grains are sprouted.

The Dry Approach: Some companies sprout the grain then dry it, to lock in this ideal stage. At this point, the sprouted grain can be stored until it’s cooked as a side dish, or it can be milled into sprouted grain flour, which is in turn used to make a wide variety of products. 

The Wet Approach: Alternately, other companies mash the wet, sprouted grains into a thick purée which is used to make breads, tortillas, muffins and other products. These products are often described as “flourless” and are frequently sold frozen.

HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN SPROUTED GRAINS (and flour):

•Sprouted Quinoa (which is considered to be the easiest to make): Purchase dried quinoa (preferably organic) and soak them in filtered water for four hours and then strain. Place the quinoa on moist paper towels in a baking dish and then lightly cover with a cloth towel (or plastic wrap with holes cut in it, but this is not as eco/toxin friendly). Once the dish is covered, place it in a dark or shaded area, misting every 12 hours. By one day, you should start to see germination. Spraying for a longer period of time will allow for longer sprouts to be formed (like green shoots…which are more for use in salads). The sprouts can be refrigerated and kept up to one week.

All other sprouted grains (Source: http://www.keeperofthehome.org):

Start with whole grains (wheat/kamut/spelt/rye/barley…as long as it’s the berry or whole kernel, it will work). Put several cups of the dry grain into a large bowl, and then fill the bowl with water, covering the grain by at least several inches. Cover and let it sit for about 6-12 hours, and overnight is an ideal time to do it.

The next day, drain the grains into a colander or strainer. Give them a good rinse under running water and put the colander over a bowl or plate to catch the extra dripping water. Cover with a clean dish towel.

• For about 2-3 days, rinse and shake the grains around twice a day (morning and night), or 3 times a day if it’s particularly warm/dry in your house. The point is to not let the grains dry out• Once the grains have small tails, you can give them a final rinse, shake them off well, and then spread them on mesh trays and put in the dehydrator. (If you don’t have a dehydrator, I think that you could probably dry them out in the oven with the oven light on- but not turned on, as this would cook them…probably a full day. If you don’t have a dehydrator, it’s worth it to find even a cheap one from a thrift store or garage sale!) I like to put mine at about 120 degrees F and it takes about half a day for them to dry completely. They need to be absolutely dry because otherwise you will not be able to grind them if making flour (they’ll clog up your machine).

• Once the grains are completely dry, they can now be stored in your pantry in an air-tight container. Or if you like, you can grind them right away in a special blender, food processor, or nut/spice grinder and keep the freshly ground flour in the fridge (to use up within a week or two) or in the freezer for longer storage (several months).

• Sprouted flour can be used just like regular whole grain flour in any of your recipes, but the phytates have already been dealt with through the sprouting process!

SPROUTED GRAIN PRODUCTS: With all of this talk about sprouted grains, here are
some products you can easily find in Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, natural food stores, and
grocery stores across the nation.

* Ezekiel 4:9 Products – They make everything from sprouted breads, wraps, and
cereals. (My personal favorite is their sprouted grain wraps – put anything on them from
hummus to roasted veggies for a delicious sandwich).

* Food for Life Products – Breads, pastas, tortillas, and baking goods are this company’s
specialty.

* Arrowhead Mills – makes a wide range of ground sprouted grain flours for easy use in
recipes (this saves you all of the work of sprouting all of your own grains and grinding
them into flour).

SPROUTED GRAIN RECIPES: Check out these sites for loads of delicious and creative
sprouted grain recipes!

http://nourishedkitchen.com/buckwheat-porridge/

http://nourishedkitchen.com/cinnamon-molasse-cookie/

http://nourishedkitchen.com/sprouted-wheat-bread/

http://www.motherearthnews.com/real-food/essene-bread-sprouted-grain.aspx

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/07/sprout-grains-for-health_n_1326476.html

http://www.modernalternativemama.com/blog/2010/10/19/tips-for-baking-with-
sprouted-grains.html#.UOBx4W_oRGY

http://www.ifood.tv/network/sprouted_grain/recipes

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Kids Safety: Snow & Cold Tips

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Here are some important health and safety tips to remember during these cold days. Tips provided from Dr. Jen Canter, a pediatrician and the developer of Play This Way and workingmother.com editor Helen Johnson. 

Get Outside: Fresh air and exercise are a good thing! Don’t worry about the cold. It doesn’t make you sick, only over-exposure does. Schools should encourage outdoor recess and give kids time to dress and undress for the weather. Check your school’s policy so your children have the right clothes with them or work with your parents’ association to create a winter weather policy.

Frequent  Breaks & Drinks: If the kids are spending a snow day outside, (playing, sledding, skiing, skating) bring them in each hour for warm-up breaks or if they complain of being cold or wet. They should drink water and other fluids as often as on a hot day! 

Keep Them Dry & Warm: Dress them in layers including on the feet and hands (socks and glove liners that wick away moisture are good investments).  In the snow, wear a waterproof outer layer. Keep the head covered in a hat or pullover facemask. Hoods can keep snow from going down the back. Long scarves can pose a safety hazard.

Dress babies and toddlers in one more layer of clothing than you would feel comfortable in in the same weather. Don’t over bundle. 

Sun Block: Snowy and cold weather does not mean your child is protected from the sun. In fact, the reflection off the snow can make the sunburn even worse. Use a good SPF sun protection on exposed skin and lips, and reapply when your snow bunnies go back outside!

Inside the House: Cold weather is not a reason to use blankets, pillows, or other soft bedding with young infants.  They present a suffocation risk and should be kept out of an infant’s sleeping environment. Instead, use warmer fitted one-piece sleepers over a layer of lighter pjs or long johns.

Winter First Aid: If your child’s skin on her ears, fingers, toes or face becomes very red or he says it’s stinging or burning, he should get indoors immediately. Warm the skin gently with warm (not hot) compresses, or submerge in warm water. You may hold a hand or foot to warm it but do not rub. Change into fresh clothes.

Source: workingmother.com

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Homemade Tomato Soup

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HOMEMADE TOMATO SOUP

Warm up your day and enjoy this classic homemade soup!

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:
1 (14-ounce) can chopped tomatoes
3/4 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small carrot, diced
1/2 white onion, diced
4 whole cloves
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
1 cup heavy cream

Directions:
1. Heat oven to 450 degrees F.

2. Place drained tomatoes (reserve juice) on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 1/4 cup olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast tomatoes 10 minutes or until they just begin to become golden.

3. Meanwhile, place carrot and onion in a soup pot with remaining olive oil and heat over medium heat, stirring often, for a few minutes. Add tomatoes, reserved juice, cloves, broth, bay leaf and butter.

4. Increase heat to medium high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until mixture is well heated and almost broken down. Stir rosemary and heavy cream into soup until well blended.

5. If you have an immersion blender, puree soup until creamy. If you don’t have an immersion blender, let soup cool for a few minutes then ladle half of the soup into a blender and puree. Then repeat with the other half. Reheat before serving.

Source: sheknows.com

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Dec 28

Healthy New Year’s Resolutions for Kids

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This New Year, help your kids make their own resolutions. Below, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) provides some resolutions ideas for all ages.Preschoolers, School Age kids, and Teens can all benefit and learn a lot about the value of making goals and self- discipline  Encourage the kids to follow them all through the year!

Preschoolers

Kids, 5- to 12-years-old

Kids, 13-years-old and up

Source: www.aap.org, image: apartmenttherapy.com

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Dec 27

Fun Winter Activity: Build A Fort

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Home forts are a fun DIY indoor activity for the kids. Building a fort helps kids build creative and analytic skills. Kids are able to channel their  imagination and decorating skills. Let them create their own magical world!

What You Need:

What You Might Want:

Instructions:

1. Start with a large table or a couch — this will be your main structure.

2. Find the sturdiest cushions (usually the ones off your couch) to extend your structure walls. You can also use dining chairs and face them in or out. If you face them in, the seat becomes a little nook inside the fort, if you face them out, you will be able to hang a sheet over the chair and set books on top of the sheet on the seat of the chair to weigh it down and prevent your roof from sagging.

3. When you have your walls built, drape sheets over the whole structure to create a roof. Use clothespins to attach sheets if they are not big enough and use heavy books to anchor down the sides.

4. Line the interior of your fort with blankets and pillows so you have soft places to lie down.

5. Bring in flashlights or even string up fairy lights to help add ambiance and provide light to read by. Don’t forget to turn them off when not in use!

6. Bring in snacks and enjoy the day in your fort with the kids. This seems especially cozy on snow days.

Source: ApartmentTherapy.com, hopestudios.com

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Dec 26

Turkey & Ham Free-Form Pie

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Have some leftovers after the holiday season? Here is a simple Christmas leftover recipe.

Turkey & Ham Free-Form Pie

Ingredients:

  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup (35g) plain flour
  • 1 cup (250ml) chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) thickened cream
  • 2 cups (320g) chopped cooked turkey
  • 1/2 cup (90g) chopped leg ham
  • 10g dried porcini mushrooms (see note), soaked in boiling water for 10 minutes, chopped
  • 2 tbs chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tbs chopped chives
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 375g block frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten
  • Cranberry sauce, to serve

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute or until mixture bubbles. Add chicken stock and wine, then cook for a further 2-3 minutes, whisking to remove any lumps. Add the thickened cream and cook for a further minute or until the mixture boils and thickens. Season to taste, then stir in the turkey, ham, chopped porcini, parsley, chives and spring onion. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.
  3. Meanwhile, roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to form a 30cm x 33cm rectangle. Cut in half lengthways to give two 15cm-wide pieces. Place one pastry sheet on the lined baking tray and spread with the cooled turkey mixture, leaving a 2cm border.
  4. Fold remaining sheet of pastry in half lengthways and use a sharp knife to make cuts in the folded side, about 1cm apart and leaving a 2cm border on the unfolded side. Carefully open the pastry back out and place over the filling, pressing the edges to seal. Trim the edges if necessary, then brush all over with the beaten egg.
  5. Bake the pie for 25-30 minutes until puffed and golden. Slice the pie and serve with cranberry sauce.

Source: www.taste.com

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Dec 25

Merry Christmas!

imgresMerry Christmas Everyone! We hope your Christmas is filled with lots of love and happiness! Enjoy the day with your loved ones!

 

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Dec 24

On the 12th Day of Christmas, MySuperFoods Gave to Me… Healthy Sleep Habits – Why It’s Important Children Get the Sleep That They Need

ImageWith the impending visit of Santa on many minds this evening, sleep may not be coming easy to everyone (parents included).  While lack of sleep may seem like something that “happens every now and then”, it’s imperative that we ensure that our children are getting the most out of this vital life necessity.  All living things require sleep to rest, repair, rejuvenate, and grow.  Even if we as adults are not catching enough zzzzs…. that is not an excuse or reason to have bad habits trickle down to our youngsters.  Perhaps after reading this article, some of you who need more shut-eye will understand why your body can’t perform at its best without adequate rest.  While it may seem impossible at times when our to-do lists are a mile long and the only time we can get anything done is at night, we have to realize that we need to be setting the example for our children (and making sure we are taking care of ourselves so we can take care of our children once the sun comes up).  Whether your children are sleeping pros or they need to attend sleep boot camp, hopefully this article will offer some helpful information so everyone can get the most out of bedtime.

Foremost, we should understand how much sleep we and our children need to make sure our bodies are getting enough rest.

Interestingly enough, were you aware that there are 5 stages to sleep?  Understanding these stages will allow us to understand what’s going on in our little ones’ brains while their eyes are shut.

The Stages of Sleep

Stage 1 – In this stage, your brain gives the signal to your muscles to relax. It also tells your heart to beat a little slower, and your body temperature drops a bit.

Stage 2 – After a little while, you enter stage 2, which is a light sleep. You can still be woken up easily during this stage. Noises and stimuli near children while they are trying to sleep will most likely wake them up during this stage (and can cause issues getting back to sleep!)

Stage 3 – You’re in a deeper sleep during this stage, also called slow-wave sleep. Your brain sends a message to your blood pressure to get lower. Your body isn’t sensitive to the temperature of the air around you, which means that you won’t notice if it’s a little hot or cold in your room. It’s much harder to be awakened when you’re in this stage, but some people may sleepwalk or talk in their sleep at this point.

Stage 4 – This is the deepest sleep yet and is also considered slow-wave sleep. It’s very hard to wake up from this stage of sleep, and if you do wake up, you’re sure to be out of it and confused for at least a few minutes. Like they do in stage 3, some people may sleepwalk or talk in their sleep when going from stage 4 to a lighter stage of sleep.

Stage 5 (R.E.M.) – R.E.M. stands for “rapid eye movement.” Even though the muscles in the rest of your body are totally relaxed, your eyes move back and forth very quickly beneath your eyelids. The R.E.M. stage is when your heart beats faster and your breathing is less regular. This is also the stage when people dream!

While you’re asleep, you repeat stages 2, 3, 4, and R.E.M. about every 90 minutes until you wake up in the morning. For most kids, that’s about four or five times a night.

Benefits of Sleep: Sleep impacts a wide-array of physiological and mental health functions.  Dr. Mercola states that, “Researchers have learned that circadian rhythms—the 24-hour cycles known as your internal body clock—are involved in everything from sleep to weight gain, mood disorders, and a variety of diseases.  Your body actually has many internal clocks—in your brain, lungs, liver, heart and even your skeletal muscles—and they all work to keep your body running smoothly by controlling temperature and the release of hormones.”  Additionally, the American Psychological Association notes: “Psychologists and other scientists who study sleep disorders have shown that sleep problems can directly affect the following systems:

Despite what some people may think about sleep being a “peaceful” state, our bodies are hard at work repairing, cell-building, and growing.  Did you know that between the hours of 1am-4am, our livers are most active detoxifying our bodies and ridding itself of damaged cells? If we are not asleep during those hours specifically, our bodies will experience a faster response to sleep deprivation.  Without sleep, our bodies “break down” and we are susceptible to:

Factors that Can Affect Sleep: We all know that at times, getting a child to sleep seems like it takes an act of God.  Here are some common things you should be aware of that can affect sleep:

Tips for Optimizing Your Child’s Sleep (and yours, for that matter!):

Hopefully everyone in your home will have visions of sugar plums dancing through your heads after reading this article and heeding this advice.  With adequate sleep, your children will be less naughty and more nice!  Happy Holidays, everyone!

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Dec 23

On the 11th Day of Christmas, Make a Healthy Holiday Cookie

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Cranberry-Honey Spice Pinwheel Cookies

Need a healthy holiday cookie recipe? Try this recipe for cranberry-honey spice pinwheel cookies. These cookies boast a bright, zesty filling and spicy aroma. They make a large batch and are convenient, since you can make the logs of cookie dough ahead, then pull them out of the freezer and slice and bake as many cookies as you need.

90 cookies

Active Time: 1 1/2 hours

Total Time: 6 hours (including freezing & cooling times)

Ingredients:

Filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups sweetened dried cranberries
  • 1 cup cranberries, fresh or frozen, thawed
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom, or allspice

Dough:

  • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom, or allspice
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons low-fat milk, plus more as needed
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Preparation: 

  1. To prepare filling: Combine dried and fresh cranberries, honey, orange zest, cinnamon and cardamom (or allspice) in a medium nonreactive saucepan (see Note) over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil and cook, stirring, until the fresh cranberries burst and soften, 4 to 5 minutes. Let cool slightly. Transfer to a food processor and puree. If the mixture seems dry, stir in up to 2 teaspoons water. Transfer the mixture to a nonreactive container and refrigerate while preparing the dough.
  2. To prepare dough: Whisk all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and cardamom (or allspice) in a large bowl. In another large bowl, combine oil, butter, sugar, honey, eggs, milk, orange zest, vanilla and almond extracts. Beat the wet ingredients with an electric mixer first on low speed, then on medium speed, until well combined. Add half the dry ingredients and beat on low speed until just incorporated. Stir in the remaining dry ingredients with a wooden spoon until evenly incorporated. If the mixture is too dry to hold together, stir in up to 1 tablespoon more milk. Cover and refrigerate the dough for 30 to 45 minutes to reduce its stickiness.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide in half. Shape each half into a 6-inch-long log. Working with one log at a time, center it on a 16-inch-long sheet of baking parchment or wax paper. Cover with a second sheet. Press and then roll into a 12-by-15-inch rectangle of even thickness, inverting the dough occasionally to roll out any wrinkles and patching it to make the sides as even as possible. Transfer the dough, in the paper, to a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining log of dough and transfer to the baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the freezer until the dough is slightly firm, about 15 minutes.
  4. To prepare pinwheel rolls: Place one sheet of dough on a work surface. Peel off the top sheet of paper. Spread half the reserved filling evenly over the dough (it will be a thin layer). Working from a 15-inch-long side, tightly roll up the dough jelly-roll style, leaving the bottom sheet of paper behind. While rolling, slightly stretch out the center to yield an evenly thick roll. Wrap the roll in a clean sheet of wax paper, twisting the ends to prevent unrolling (see Tip). Place on a baking sheet. Repeat with the second piece of dough and place on the baking sheet. Freeze until firm, at least 3 to 4 hours.
  5. To bake cookies: Position racks in the upper third and center of the oven; preheat to 350°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Working with one pinwheel roll at a time, trim the uneven ends. Cut the roll crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices using a large serrated knife; periodically turning the roll to maintain a relatively round cookie shape. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 1/2 inch apart. Bake the cookies until puffed and barely golden brown, 12 to 16 minutes, switching the pans back to front and top to middle halfway through baking. Immediately transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely. Cut and bake the remaining pinwheel roll.

Tips & Notes:

Source: eatingwell.com

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Dec 22

On the 10th Day of Christmas, Here Are 10 Family Holiday Activities!

ImageChristmas is almost here! Take some time to have fun with your loved ones. Try these 10 fun activities with your family:

1. Have a cookie decorating party. This is a fun family tradition in my home. Take cookies or treats to your local police station, fire house and ambulance stations.

2. Christmas movie marathon. Watch the classics and new ones too!

3. Make your own wrapping paper. Try white tissue paper or brown paper bags using commercial stamps or a design cut onto a potato. Children love to stamp, but they may want to paint or color, too.

4. Read Christmas stories each night before bed. The stories can be above a child’s reading level if you read them out loud.

5. Go Christmas caroling. Afterward, enjoy hot chocolate and Christmas cookies.

6. Drive around and look at Christmas lights. Research ahead of time any wonderful displays and must sees!

7. Study how other countries and cultures celebrate Christmas. This is a great way to teach children about other cultures.

8. Get a picture with Santa!

9. Make apple cider or eggnog and spend time together just talking.

10. Listen to Christmas music and write cards to one another to open on Christmas.

Source: better budgeting.com

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