Beat the Heat with Healthy Sparkling Fruit Water

It’s been so hot here, and every day my kids and I are trying to come up with new ways to keep cool. I decided to freeze some pomegranate juice and blueberries and combine it in sparkling lime-flavored water to create this super refreshing and healthy Sparkling Fruit Water. It’s so easy!

Frozen Pomarita (Pomegranate Margarita) for Cinco De Mayo

We are huge fans of pomegranate juice at my house. I like to put a splash in my water bottles, but the kids will drink it by itself. This recipe for Frozen Pomarita is perfect for Cinco De Mayo, or anytime this summer, when you want a cool, frozen cocktail beverage. I love that pomegranate juice has so many wonderful antioxidants and healthy properties helping prevent cardiovascular disease, prostate cancers, erectile disfunction, sports recovery problems and more. For more information and studies, see Pom Wonderful and check out their new lite flavors, such as blackberry lychee green tea, and Peach passion with up to 50% fewer calories.

Blueberry Spritzer

Blueberries are a nutritional powerhouse. Recently Tufts University conducted a study of 60 various fruits and vegetables and found that blueberries rated the highest for their antioxidant capabilities. They have been linked to great health benefits and are said to help prevent alzheimer’s, prevent urinary tractions, improve aging and eyesight and more. This refreshing summery beverage is a cinch to make with only 4 ingredients. It’s a hit with adults as well as the kids.

Smarter Healthy Beverage Choices

Did you know the average person consumes 400 calories in one day just on beverages they drink? It’s possible that if we make smarter beverage choices, we can really slim down faster as well as improve our health. Dehydration can lead to many things, but it slows down your fat burning abilities and decreases mental and physical energy. Here are the smartest beverage choices:

1. Water-Water will always help with hydration without adding excess pounds. Add fresh lemon, lime or orange to bump the flavor up a bit. Drink water often and before meals to curb appetite and cravings.

2. Green Tea-Recent Research regarding green tea’s health benefits have been astonishing. They include: preventing cancer and heart disease, lowering cholesterol, burning fat, preventing dementia and diabetes and more. Filled with antioxidants, green tea is also said, by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, to stimulate the metabolism and help burn fat.

3. Skim or soy milk-Milk is a great source of Vitamin D and calcium. Milk is high in protein and filled with health benefits including improved bone health, aiding in the immune system as well as helping prevent osteoporosis and respiratory problems.

4. Pomegranate juice-An antioxidant powerhouse, pomegranate juice is said to help the body guard itself against premature aging, heart disease, alzheimer’s, cancer and other diseases.

5. Concord Grape juice-If you choose the juice made from 100 grapes, concord grape juice is filled with antioxidants. It is said to have similar health benefits of red wine such as protection against heart disease and lowering chances of blood clots. I like to mix it in my water.

6. Blueberry Juice-High in fiber, antioxidants and vitamin C, blueberry juice is lower in calories than other juices. It is also said to help reduce aging, diabetes and urinary tract infections.

7. Orange juice-Drinking at least 2 glasses of orange juice a day increases the vitamin C concentration within the body which can protect against inflammation, improve diastolic blood pressure and decrease bad cholesterol.

 

Also I want to just mention coffee: Studies completed at the Mayo Clinic and the Harvard Health Letter suggest that coffee also contains antioxidants and can help prevent against liver cancer, Parkinson’s disease and type 2 diabetes. Coffee also curbs the appetite, but it should be consumed in moderation.

Celebrate Mardi Gras: Healthy Hurricane

Mardi Gras 2011 is this Tuesday, March 8.  Mardi Gras, “Fat Tuesday”, is the last day of the Carnival season as it always falls the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. The Hurricane is a fruit-colored relative of the “daiquiri”, and it’s credited to New Orleans tavern owner Pat O’Brien. In the 1940s, he created the fruity concoction and served it in hurricane-lamp-shaped glasses to give away to sailors. The drink caught on, and it has been a mainstay in the French Quarter in New Orleans ever since. My version of the Healthy Hurricane is filled with fresh fruit juices, making it perfect for kids to enjoy. If you want an alcoholic version, see the note about how much rum to add.

My Top 10 Favorite “Power” Foods

I get a lot of email, and I mean, a lot. So many people ask me cooking questions, nutrition questions, entrepreneur advice, blog advice, social media advice, have comments and more. Sometimes, I get the simple questions such as, “How do you keep so fit? “What do you eat all day?” etc. I thought I would share my top 10 favorite “power” foods. When I say “power”, I mean foods that I love, foods that I feel give me energy, keep me healthy and foods I can’t go without most every day.

1. Greek Yogurt-With 2.5 grams of protein per ounce and hardly any fat or carbs, what could be better? I stir honey into mine with blueberries or bananas, nuts or whole grain cereal, and I eat it for breakfast or an afternoon snack. It is so filling and tastes great (I use the nonfat or low-fat by the way). See Greek Yogurt Banana Bread

2. Blueberries-These have the highest antioxidant value of all fruit plus they have many vitamins: B, C, E, and they boost your immune system. We always have a bowl of fresh blueberries ready to grab. See  Blueberry Pancakes

3. Almonds or Walnuts-These are a great heart-healthy snack filled with protein, vitamins, minerals and good for your digestive system. I don’t go one day without a handful. See Chunky Granola

4. Acai or pomegranate juice-Acai has been said to have antioxidant benefits and anti-aging properties and omega fatty acids. I think it gives me energy as well. You can buy the frozen Sambazon smoothie packs at Whole Foods, in solid bars, or in a bottle (I like the 100% Genesis Today Acai juice).  See Cranberry Pomegranate Granita

5. Salmon-High in the health promoting fat, omega 3 fatty acids, high protein, and low in calories. I prefer Alaskan wild salmon. Salmon is one of my tried and true favorites. The best part of all is that my 3 kids love it too. See Salmon Burgers

6. Edamame-High in protein, fiber and calcium and low in calories and fat.  I can’t get enough of these. I purchase them already shelled in the frozen section and just thaw. They are great served in a salad, as a snack or as a topping. See Edamame Salsa

7. Gold Bars-These bars are my all-time favorite snack bars. With 11 grams of protein from soy, nuts and whole grains, these satisfy my hunger as well as sugar cravings. I love them in the morning with coffee or as a snack. See Grab the Gold Bar

8. Flaxseed-High in fiber and omega 3 fatty acids, I put ground flaxseed in everything from cereal, to yogurt, granola and even as a crust on salmon or chicken. See Flaxseed Crusted Salmon

9. Arugula-High in Vitamin C and K, I love arugula for it’s peppery taste and beautiful color. Try it with golden raisins, nuts and freshly shaved Parmesan or simply topped with grilled chicken or steamed shrimp. I’m a huge fan and can’t get enough of it. See Black Eyed Pea Salad over Arugula

10. Dark Chocolate-Dark Chocolate is said to contain flavonoids so it’s heart healthy, contains antioxidants and may even reduce aging. Try Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

Shirley Temples with Fresh Cherries

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My three kids are the best, and I try to treat them with something new and different all of the time from the kitchen. I came up with the idea of a healthier version of Shirley Temples using pomegranate-cherry juice 100% juice and fresh cherries. This recipe is so simple, and they love it! It’s perfect for this time of year when cherries are in abundance.

Celebrate Cinco De Mayo with Pomegranate Margaritas

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I featured this awesome Pomegranate Recipe when my blog was brand new back in November right before Thanksgiving. Since Cinco De Mayo is around the corner, I thought I would share it one more time. Adding pomegranate juice adds great depth of flavor to this simple beverage. It is perfect to serve this time of year as the weather has warmed up here in the south, and spring is upon us. I used Patron Silver for the tequila, as it’s one of my favorites. Look for me on Sunday at 7:35 a.m central time on Fox 6 News in Birmingham, Alabama

Super-Healthy Salad in 20 Minutes

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This is one of my favorite salads that I raced to the kitchen and developed after I saw a similar salad at a really cool and eclectic restaurant new to downtown Birmingham, AL called Urban Standard. The combination of walnuts, strawberries, blueberries and goat cheese with a vinaigrette made from pomegranate juice and flaxeed oil create the ultimate healthy salad. If you’re really short on time, omit the dressing and use your favorite bottled light balsamic or raspberry vinaigrette. And, if you want to make this a main-dish dinner salad, add 2 cups grilled or cooked chopped chicken or salmon. 


By the way, I heard from six different people yesterday from California, two in Nashville, two in Birmingham, Atlanta and even New Jersey who were making my Rigatoni for dinner last night. Thanks for all the awesome support! Best, Alison


Super-Healthy Salad

Prep: 20 minutes

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

1/3 cup raspberry vinegar

2 tablespoons pomegranate juice

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

21/2 teaspoons flaxseed oil

4 cups fresh mixed greens

2 cups sliced strawberries

1 (4.4-ounce) package fresh blueberries

1/4 to 1/3 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese (if you don’t like goat cheese, you can use feta)

Preparation

1. Whisk together raspberry vinegar, pomegranate juice, honey, mint, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Slowly add flaxseed oil, whisking to combine; set aside.

2. Combine mixed greens, strawberries, blueberries, walnuts and goat cheese in a large serving bowl. Add vinaigrette, tossing well.

Healthy Pomegranate Blueberry Smoothie

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Smoothies are very popular at my house. We make them several times a week, even in the wintertime for dessert, as an afternoon snack or for breakfast. My kids love to try new concoctions, which is great because we are always using fresh, healthy ingredients such as yogurt, fresh fruits and fresh juices not from concentrate. I am thrilled to indulge in smoothies as well as providing the kids with something so healthy that boosts energy levels, fills you up and makes you feel great. Sometimes I even sneak in a couple of tablespoons of wheat germ, crushed flaxseed, and they don’t even know it. Try this recipe or make one of your own as a fresh start to the New Year.


Pomegranate-Blueberry Smoothie

Prep: 5 minutes

Yield: 8 cups

Ingredients

2 (6-ounce) containers low-fat strawberry yogurt (I used Dannon Light/Fit)

3/4 cup pomegranate juice such as Pom

1 tablespoon honey

1 pint fresh blueberries

1 banana

11/2 cups cubed or crushed ice

Preparation

1. Combine all ingredients in an electric blender and process until smooth and frothy. Serve immediately.