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winter

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Easy Tomato Basil and Gnocchi soup

Need to thaw out from the winter weather? This recipe combines two of the most delicious cold weather comfort foods on the planet — pasta and soup. A big bowl of this filling soup and you’ll be toasty for hours. What’s even better? It’s ready in less than a half hour. Seriously. A food this delicious that’s also ready in about 25 minutes — you’re going to fall in love with this recipe. If you’re not familiar with gnocchi, you can usually find them in the pasta section at any well-stocked grocery store. They’re often vacuumed-packaged and sold next to the boxed pastas. They might also be in the frozen foods aisle near the ravioli and stuffed shells. So what are they? Confession, this description might be a bit biased because I LOVE gnocchi. They’re these pillowy puffs of pasta with a slightly chewy texture, never tough, always just the…

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

I know, I know! Cauliflower isn’t exactly the most exciting vegetable to make, but it is having a moment — and for a good reason! If you haven’t tried this cruciferous vegetable in a while, now is a good time to revisit. Just like Brussels sprouts came back a few years ago with much fanfare, so too has cauliflower, thanks to tons of delicious new recipes and ways of preparation. Here is one easy recipe to get you back on team cauliflower and eating more veggies in the New Year. The roasted cauliflower adds a ton of flavor, and the finely diced carrots and celery give the soup even more texture. A big, hot bowl of this hearty cauliflower soup, served with crusty bread — that’s what winter days are all about. Roasted Cauliflower Soup Ingredients 4 tbsp olive oil, divided 1 small onion, diced 1 carrot, finely diced 1…

Loaded ranch snowman cheeseball

You’ll win at Christmas Eve when you set this ranch snowman cheeseball on the table. Seriously, cocktail shrimp, who? Everyone will be talking about the cute — and delicious — snowman dip! Plus it’s loaded with turkey bacon, green onions, and tons of flavor, so you know everyone is going to love it! Ranch Snowman Cheeseball Ingredients 2 (8 ounce) packages of cream cheese, softened 1 packet of dry ranch seasoning mix (1 ounce) 2 cups shredded white cheese (I like white sharp cheddar, but mozzarella works too), divided in 2 4 strips turkey bacon, cooked until crispy and then crumbled 3 green onions, chopped 1/4 tsp finely ground fresh black pepper 1 small carrot 10 whole black peppercorns Cooking spray or oil (for greasing hands) Serve with: crackers, carrots, celery sticks, broccoli florets, bell pepper strips or anything else you like to dip in delicious ranch cheese! Directions In a…

Lightly creamy chicken and rice soup

I like to keep a pot of homemade soup on hand at all times. It kills the question “what’s for lunch?” almost immediately. Plus, it never hurts to have something delicious on hand to help you avoid the drive-thru line during the busy holiday season. Feel free to adjust the amount of broth. I like a lot, but you might like less. It’s definitely a personal choice with soup, so see what works for you! Here is a quick and easy chicken and rice soup. It’s not too creamy, yet it has just enough to add some flavor. lightly Creamy chicken and rice soup Ingredients 2 tbsp olive oil 1 large carrot, chopped 1 large celery rib, chopped 1 small onion, chopped 1 tsp minced garlic 8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, rinsed 2/3 cup uncooked long grain rice 1 tsp dried basil 1/2 tsp pepper 32-36 ounces chicken broth (or…

How to avoid gaining weight during a cold winter

Winter started early this year, with many areas of the country seeing snowfall even before Thanksgiving. The East Coast was blasted with a freeze that sent frost and snow as far south as the Carolinas. Temperatures across the country dipped into the  low 20s —  And that was just the first few weeks of winter. It’s shaping up to be a particularly long, cold winter. But cold weather is no excuse to binge on booze and fatty comfort foods. It’s easy to reach for that mac and cheese, chili or homemade chocolate chip cookies when the weather stays dreary and cold outside, but you’ll most certainly regret it later. Here are a few tips to help you prevent winter weight gain: Watch your alcohol intake It might be tempting to pour yourself another glass of wine, or spike a little something in your hot chocolate, but on average, an alcoholic drink will add an extra 150…

The most likely places you’ll catch a cold this winter

The cold and flu are a harsh reality of winter for many. Between October and March, about 5 to 20 percent of the U.S. population comes down with the flu, according to the CDC. Adults average about 2-3 colds per year and children have even more. While we all know to wash our hands frequently and eat a healthy diet, to stay healthy it also helps to know the places where we’re most likely to pick up cold and flu causing bacteria and viruses in the first place. Both cold and flu are contagious infections of the respiratory tract. Coughs and headaches are common to both. Congestion, sore throat and sneezing are associated with colds, while the flu brings tiredness, a high fever and an overall feeling of weakness in the body.  A cold is milder than the flu, and one can’t turn into the other because they are completely different virus. What they…

Here’s how long you’re contagious with the flu virus

If you’ve spent the last couple days cooped up inside your house fighting the flu and dozing off to Netflix, you may be wondering when you can return to civilization. You’re eager to do something constructive, yet you wouldn’t want to put your family or co-workers at risk for infection. So just how long are you contagious? Most people go back to work when their worst symptoms start to retreat, but that’s probably a little too early.  The CDC says you can be contagious the day before you start feeling sick and up to seven days after. Children, elderly and those with weak immune systems can be contagious even longer. Those unpleasant symptoms are actually the result of your immune system fighting the flu virus. For starters, your body increasing in temperature, resulting in a fever because the flu virus doesn’t spread as well at higher temperatures. And that mucus has…

Slow-cooker mexican turkey chili makes for a lean, hearty meal

If you’re trying to eat healthy, the Super Bowl comes at a super inconvenient time. Just a few weeks past the holidays, we’re hardly detoxed from those dozens of cookies and excess alcohol before BAM!: A whole day full of fattening foods. From buffalo chicken dip to countless foods smothered in cheese, there’s really no where to hide… But then again, who wants to settle for salad? I’ll be whipping up this easy turkey chili first thing in the morning so it’s ready by game time. Just 15 minutes of prep work and 4-5 hours on high in the slow cooker will have this tasty dish piping-hot in time for kick-off. Serve with tortilla chips, shredded Mexican cheese blend, and/or fresh avocado slices (I splurged and made some jalapeño corn bread, too), and you’ll have a hearty, healthy dish, that will satisfy your football-inspired cravings, but won’t leave you regretting your whole day.…

Cream of mushroom soup is perfect dinner on a cold day

The best recipe inspirations come from others. Not that I’ve never had a cream of mushroom soup, but it took a trip to Costa Rica for me to have a cream of mushroom soup that I couldn’t live without. I should explain. It’s not that cream of mushroom is a staple in the Costa Rican diet, but I spent a week SCUBA diving off of the western coast of one of their national parks called Cocos Island, on a live aboard (dive) boat with a staff that served us some pretty tasty food. Among them, were a handful of delicious, filling puréed soups — one of my favorites! This mushroom version was one I knew I had to make when I got home. It was so much lighter than any I had before and it actually tasted like mushrooms — not cream. I think I came pretty close to replicating the original,…

Some states are switching to beet juice and beer to ‘salt’ icy roads, sidewalks

Most snowy places around the country throw salt on the roads to eliminate ice and improve road conditions. According to New Herald, experts fear all this road salt tossed onto sidewalks and scattered on highways, is having an alarming impact on the environment. Conscious of this fact, some cities are turning to less conventional materials to get the job done: beet juice, molasses, cheese brine, and beer. Researchers on the subject cite mounting evidence that the 20 million tons of sodium chloride crystals used each year is increasing the salinity of hundreds of lakes — particularly in the Midwest and Northeast. In the past 50 years, chloride concentrates in some of the sampled lakes have quadrupled, and in a few cases, even increased a hundredfold. If the problem is not corrected, they warn, the runoff could threaten freshwater ecosystems and put everything from frogs to microscopic zooplankton at risk. As the negative effects are…