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Drink Up Natural, Refreshing Beverages


In Good Taste




(Family Features) Whether you’re trying to achieve wellness goals or just looking for simple ways to add more nutrient-rich food sources into your family’s diet, now is the time to dust off that blender or juicer. Naturally sweet and nutritious, watermelon is a great addition to drinks that nourish and replenish the body.

For years, health professionals have touted the many benefits found in nature – especially in fruits such as watermelon. But with hectic schedules, it can be hard to reap the rewards of these power foods. Thankfully there are a few helpful contraptions in the kitchen to help you quickly and easily power up your diet.

Boasting the benefits of watermelon
Whether you need to flush out toxins or reduce bloating, healthy and hydrating watermelon is the all-natural solution conveniently found at your local grocer’s produce section.

Packed with arginine and citrulline, watermelon may help improve blood flow. The watermelon’s high water and potassium level may also help the body flush out unwanted fluids. Plus, watermelon is said to have a diuretic effect, which helps the body beat bloating. The following cocktail recipes all feature this star ingredient, which along with other healthful ingredients, offer natural solutions for common conditions.

When incorporating these delicious drinks into your family’s diet, use a strong blender when you can. This will help retain essential phytonutrients and antioxidants within the blended mixture. Many conventional juicers require you to throw away the pulp, which means throwing out these bonus health benefits.

For more refreshing ways to add nutrients to your diet, visit

Red Hot Blood Cleanser
Servings: 2 (1-cup) servings

2     cups watermelon chunks
1     small to medium beet, washed
1     apple, seeded and cut into cubes
1     tablespoon apple juice concentrate
1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (depending on taste)
1/4     teaspoon turmeric

Place all ingredients in blender with watermelon on bottom. Turn blender on slow speed until watermelon has liquefied, then increase speed and blend 1 minute or until liquefied.

Veggie De-Bloat Cocktail
Servings: 2 (or 2 1/2 cups total)

1/3     medium cucumber, peeled
3     medium carrots, washed
2     celery stalks
1/2     red pepper, washed and seeded
1/4     cup fresh parsley
2     tablespoons fresh cilantro
2     cups watermelon
Dash of horseradish

In juicer, extract juice from all ingredients. Serve plain or over ice.

Watermelon Zapper
Servings: 2 (2 1/4 cups total in blender, or 1 3/4 cups total in juicer)

2     cups watermelon cubes
1/3     large lemon, peeled
1 1 /2     tablespoons peeled fresh ginger
2     medium carrots

Juice all ingredients in conventional juicer.

In blender, place watermelon first then remaining ingredients. Turn blender on low until watermelon is liquefied then gradually increase speed. Blend 2 minutes.

Source: National Watermelon Promotion Board

April 1, 2015 |

Every Bunny Loves Easter


In Good Taste







Basket goodies and more for your celebrations12556_A

(Family Features) With Easter just around the corner, everyone is hopping to the candy aisle to pick up tasty treats. Celebrate the fun of the season with special sweets that everyone will enjoy.

With the never-ending selection of Easter candies to fill your baskets and dessert spreads, picking the best can be difficult. In fact, the National Confectioners Association ranks this springtime celebration as the nation’s second top-selling candy holiday.

A new addition to the candy aisle this spring includes a NestlÈ Crunch candy line inspired by Charles Schulz’s beloved Peanuts characters, including Charlie Brown and Snoopy. These whimsical products join NestlÈ’s existing collection of chocolate and sugar favorites that are sure to inspire creativity with gift baskets, egg hunts and sweet treats.

Also new this year, candy lovers can feel better about the chocolate they’re choosing. NestlÈ Confections & Snacks has announced the purchase of certified, sustainable cocoa equal to the amount needed to produce the entire Easter chocolate collection for the season through the NestlÈ Cocoa Plan, NestlÈ’s global commitment to sustainable cocoa.  For the first time, U.S. consumers can purchase any products from NestlÈ’s chocolate Easter collection and know that their purchase supports NestlÈ’s commitment to better cocoa farming practices, improving social conditions and ethical sourcing.  All of NestlÈ’s Easter chocolate collection will feature a NestlÈ Cocoa Plan logo on-pack to help you make a choice this Easter that is delicious and sustainable.

Do you have an Easter gathering to host or attend? Hop into the kitchen and whip up this simple recipe for Egg-Ceptional Easter Nests. Featuring NestlÈ NestEggs, the bite sized NestEggs are available in a variety of flavors including NestlÈ Crunch, Crunch Creamy Caramel, Crunch Peanut Butter and Butterfinger, providing plenty of options to please every palate.

For more Easter inspiration visit or

Egg-Ceptional Easter Nests
Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 21 minutes
Servings: 30

Wax paper
1 2/3 to 2  cups (11- to 12-ounce package) NestlÈ Toll House Butterscotch or Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1/4             cup creamy peanut butter
2                cans (5 ounces each) chow mein noodles
30-60       NestlÈ NestEggs, any flavor

Line trays with wax paper.

Microwave morsels in large, uncovered, microwave-safe bowl on medium-high (70 percent) power for 1 minute; stir. The morsels may retain some original shape. If necessary, microwave at additional 10- to 15-second intervals, stirring just until morsels are melted. Stir in peanut butter until well blended.

Add chow mein noodles to morsel mixture; toss until coated. Using ice cream scoop that measures about 2 rounded tablespoons, scoop and drop onto prepared trays then immediately shape into nests. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Before serving, place 1 or 2 candy eggs in each nest. Store prepared nests in covered container for up to 1 day.
Source: NestlÈ





March 25, 2015 |

Get Creative With After School Snacks


In Good Taste









(Family Features) For teens and tweens, after school snacks can pose a bit of a problem. Many options are geared toward younger (and smaller) bellies, while others may pack too big a punch, affecting appetites for dinner. One deliciously satisfying solution? Snacks they can make themselves.


DIY after school snacks let kids push their creative limits. One way to get creative is using favorite breakfast cereals in familiar types of recipes for a whole new taste. For example, a lightly sweetened corn and oat cereal such as Honeycomb has a one-of-a-kind playful shape that makes it an instantly recognizable and flavorful addition to treats.


You can go simple with a snack mix such as this Monkey Munch, or even give muffins a playful and unique twist, as with these Cereal Muffins.


For these and more recipes ideal for cooks in training, visit



Monkey Munch


1/2          cup peanut butter

4             squares semi-sweet chocolate

8             cups Post Honeycomb Cereal

2             tablespoons powdered sugar


Microwave peanut butter and chocolate in large microwaveable bowl on high 1 1/2 minutes. Stir until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is well blended.


Pour over cereal in large bowl; toss to evenly coat.


Place two large sheets of aluminum foil on counter, with long sides of foil slightly overlapping. Spread cereal mixture onto foil. Let stand 2 hours or until chocolate coating is set.


Place powdered sugar in fine mesh strainer. Shake strainer over cereal mixture to evenly coat cereal mixture with sugar. Store in tightly covered container at room temperature.


Tips: Cooled cereal can be placed in a large brown paper bag instead of on foil. Add powdered sugar to cereal mixture in bag; fold down top of bag to close and shake to coat cereal mixture evenly.



Cereal Muffins


1             cup flour

2             tablespoons sugar

1             tablespoon baking powder

1/8         teaspoon salt

1/3         cup cold butter or margarine

3 1/3      cups Post Honeycomb Cereal, divided

1             cup milk

1             egg

1             teaspoon sugar

1/8        teaspoon ground cinnamon


Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease 12-cup muffin tin.


Mix flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, baking powder and salt in large bowl; cut in butter with pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.


Mix 3 cups cereal and milk in medium bowl; let stand 3 minutes. Stir in egg. Add to flour mixture; stir just until moistened (batter will be lumpy).


Spoon evenly into muffin tin, filling each cup 2/3 full.


Mix remaining 1/3 cup cereal, 1 teaspoon sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle evenly over muffins.


Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool.


March 13, 2015 |

Spice Up Dinner with Shrimp



(Family Features) Preparing the same old meals week after week can make dinnertime dull. Add some spice to your menu with the fresh flavor of a new protein – nutrient-rich Gulf shrimp.


Shrimp is the most popular seafood in the United States. In fact, the average person consumes more than four pounds each year with 83 percent of U.S. shrimp coming from the Gulf Coast.


Because of its firm texture and mild flavor, shrimp is actually the perfect substitute when you are looking for an alternative protein. From grilling to serving on salads, incorporating shrimp into your diet is a great way to add some variety and low-calorie nutrition.


The nutrient-rich environment found in the Gulf of Mexico results in high-quality seafood with superior flavor and a variety of essential nutrients. Shrimp is lower in calories than many other protein sources, is low in saturated fat and is a good source of vitamins D, B-12, selenium, iron and zinc, which helps ward off diseases such as heart disease.


Grilling is an excellent option for preparing shrimp because it allows you to experiment with all different kinds of seasonings and flavors, such as this recipe for marinated shrimp that is a unique take on the traditional taco.


Remember that seafood such as fish and shrimp are best grilled over a moderately hot fire and on a surface that has been well oiled or in a barbecue basket. Shrimp is done when the flesh becomes pink, firm and slightly opaque.


Look for more recipes to spice up your dinner plans at and learn how to prepare Gulf shrimp on the Gulf Coast Seafood YouTube channel.


Ceviche-Marinated Grilled Gulf Shrimp Tacos

Compliments of Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board


1/4       cup lime juice

1/4       cup chopped cilantro

2          cups tomato juice

1          cup chopped red onion

1          tablespoon ancho chili powder

21-25   peeled and deveined jumbo Gulf shrimp

8          corn tortillas

1/2       pound shredded red cabbage

1/4       cup tomato salsa

1/4       cup low-fat sour cream


Heat grill or grill pan to high heat.


Mix lime juice, cilantro, tomato juice, onion and chili powder in bowl. When fully mixed, add peeled and deveined Gulf shrimp, cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes.


Remove shrimp from marinade and place on hot grill. Cook until shrimp are done, 4-6 minutes. Remove shrimp from grill and place aside.


Lay tortillas a few at a time over hot grill until warm, about 20-30 seconds.


On each tortilla, place 3 shrimp, shredded cabbage, salsa and sour cream. Fold in half and serve.

March 6, 2015 |

A Tart, Tasty Way to Snack






(Family Features) With about 90 percent of Americans snacking daily, snacks now account for as much as 25 percent of many Americans’ daily calories. Indeed, the snack category is growing, with the biggest gains in better-for-you options that blend taste and nutrition.


“The secret to smart snacking is to choose a bite that contains a combo of protein and fiber, a power pair that will help you feel full longer. And of course, you can’t forget about flavor – it has to taste good, too. That’s why tart cherries are such a great pick; they offer great taste coupled with nutrition,” says Joy Bauer, MS, RDN, and the Today show’s nutrition expert.


Bauer suggests these simple snack-time strategies:


  • Don’t get caught in a snack attack. If you start searching for food after you’re already hungry, you’re more likely to make choices that are high in calories and low in nutrients. Plan and pre-package munchies in the morning or keep wholesome single-serve snacks on-hand so you’re prepared when hunger strikes.


  • Go for nutrient-dense noshes. The right snacks with the right nutrients can help keep hunger in check until your next meal. Dried fruits, like anthocyanin-packed tart cherries, and nuts, including protein-rich almonds, team up to create a tasty, wholesome snack that will satisfy your appetite.


  • Take time to taste. Don’t be a distracted snacker, eating while standing at the fridge, watching TV or multi-tasking. Mindless eating can lead to calorie overload. Instead, grab a snack, sit down, relax and enjoy every bite.


Sour and tart flavors are gaining popularity in a wide range of foods, including snacks. Tart cherries have emerged as a star ingredient in a range of new snack products, especially in dried form. Montmorency tart cherries, the most popular variety grown in the United States, are packed with anthocyanins – natural compounds that provide the ruby-red color, distinctive tart taste and potential health benefits.


“Dried tart cherries are fantastic on their own, but there’s something magical when you combine this distinctive-tasting fruit with other ingredients, like dark chocolate and nuts,” Bauer said.


While there are many pre-packaged tart cherry snacks available today, you can also make simple, delicious recipes at home, such as these Tart Cherry, Dark Chocolate and Cashew Granola Bars, which are bursting with flavor and sure to become a favorite go-to snack.


For more recipes and information on tart cherries, visit


Tart Cherry, Dark Chocolate & Cashew Granola Bars

Recipe courtesy of Kristina LaRue,


Total time: 25 minutes

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Servings: 10 bars


1             cup chopped raw cashews

1/2         cup chopped raw almonds

1/2         cup dried tart cherries

1/2         cup puffed rice cereal

1/4         cup pumpkin seeds

1/4         cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks

1/8         teaspoon sea salt

1             tablespoon whole golden flaxseeds

1/4        cup brown rice syrup

1             tablespoon almond butter


Preheat oven to 325°F. Line 8-by-8-inch baking pan with parchment paper.


Mix all dry ingredients together in bowl.


In small bowl, stir together syrup and almond butter until combined and gently fold into nut mixture until completely incorporated.


Transfer bar mixture to prepared baking dish.


Using extra sheet of parchment paper, press down on mixture to form to pan and ensure there are no spaces in mix.


Bake for 15 minutes; allow bars to cool completely in pan on wire drying rack. Place in fridge or freezer for faster cooling.


Remove parchment paper with cooled bars from pan and using serrated knife, slice into 10 even bars. Remove parchment paper from bottom of each bar.


Wrap each bar individually with plastic wrap to store for snack time. Place wrapped bars in airtight container and store on counter up to 5 days or in fridge up to 2 weeks.



February 24, 2015 |

Pasta Salad Makes Weeknight Dinner Quick and Healthy




(Family Features) Now is the time for diners to transition palates to lighter and healthier meals, especially those packed with fresh, satisfying ingredients.


Whether serving dinner at home or heading out to a picnic, Lemony Peas and Pasta Salad is a snap to make, with few steps and minimal preparation time. It’s also packed with colorful fresh vegetables that are back in season once again.


Start by preparing the pasta according to package directions. Dreamfields penne rigate is premium pasta made from durum wheat semolina that has the taste and texture of traditional pasta but with a healthy twist. A one-cup cooked serving provides five grams of fiber and seven grams of protein. While the pasta is in its final minutes of cooking, add two of nature’s wonderful gifts: fresh sugar snap peas and green peas. A dressing of lemon zest and juice whisked into olive oil adds just the right amount of zip when tossed with the drained pasta and peas.


Then, add in crisp young greens such as arugula or spinach – the two can be blended, if desired. Once you’ve added a few shavings of Parmesan cheese on top, it’s ready to serve. Have a taste for fresh herbs with your pasta salad? You can choose anything from chopped mint to chives to parsley, or pick your own favorite to sprinkle on top.


For the best flavor and texture, be sure to prepare the pasta salad on the same day as it is served. This recipe yields enough for the whole family – including vegetarians – to enjoy. It’s an easy way to make life just a little bit healthier.


Dreamfields can be found in the pasta aisle of supermarkets nationwide – just look for the black box. For more information and pasta salad recipes, visit



Lemony Peas & Pasta Salad

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Servings: 6-8


1            box Dreamfields Penne Rigate

2            cups sugar snap peas

2            cups fresh or frozen green peas

1/4         cup fresh lemon juice

2            teaspoons lemon zest, plus extra for garnish

1/2         teaspoon salt

3            tablespoons olive oil

4            cups baby greens (arugula, spinach or blend)

1/4         cup chopped fresh herbs (optional)

Parmesan cheese, shaved


Cook pasta according to package directions, adding sugar snap and green peas during last 3 minutes of cooking; drain. Rinse with cold water; drain again. Place in large bowl.


Meanwhile, combine lemon juice, zest and salt in small bowl. Whisk in oil. Toss with pasta and peas. Gently toss in greens and herbs, if using. Garnish with shaved Parmesan and additional zest, if desired.


Note: For herbs, use one or a combination of chopped mint, thyme, chives, basil, parsley or other favorites.


Nutrition information (1/6 of recipe): 328 calories; 8 g total fat (1 g saturated fat); 12 g protein; 56 g total carbohydrate; 9 g total dietary fiber; 0 mg cholesterol; 218 mg sodium.

February 24, 2015 |

Excuse Me, Can You Send a Drone Over to Take My Order? Dining Goes Digital

TownLink Tech Tuesday


By Carol Tice

Time was, dining out was a chance to get away from all those beeping screens. But now, tech is invading the restaurant space, as operators look for ways to turn tables faster, keep kids entertained, and avoid errors.

If you’ve ordered your meal off a touchscreen kiosk, made a reservation with your phone, and paid with your virtual wallet, what else can perk up your dining experience? Take a look at the new ways technology may jazz up your restaurant meal in the coming year:



Infinium Robotics makes drones that can deliver meals to tables, as illustrated here.

December 23, 2014 |
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