Creating the Perfect Vegetable Tray

If you are hosting a party, you will need to create a presentably appealing vegetable tray. Creating a veggie tray is really easy if you plan ahead and gather everything that you will need before you begin to assemble your tray. You will need a round serving tray or a specially designed veggie tray that … Continue reading “Creating the Perfect Vegetable Tray”

If you are hosting a party, you will need to create a presentably appealing vegetable tray. Creating a veggie tray is really easy if you plan ahead and gather everything that you will need before you begin to assemble your tray.


You will need a round serving tray or a specially designed veggie tray that has divided cavities for placing your vegetables in. If your tray doesn’t come with a vegetable dip container, you will need to supply one.
It is recommended that you choose 5-7 vegetables to present on your party tray.

Wash and pat dry all of your vegetables. Cut off any roots, stems or unwanted leafy portions.

Vegetable Selection:
Leafy Lettuce: Separate the lettuce leaves and use them to line your vegetable tray.
Broccoli: Cut florets off the stalk into individual serving-sized pieces.
Cauliflower: Cut pieces from head of cauliflower into individual serving-sized pieces.
Cherry Tomatoes: Remove stems. Wash and pat dry.

Cucumbers: You can remove the skin or leave it, that is entirely up to you. Slice cucumber into 1/4″ thick round slices.

Carrots: If using baby carrots, you will will not need to slice them down. If using full-sized carrots, you will need to slice them down into sticks measuring approximately 1/4″ by 4″ in size.

Celery: Cut off leafy portions. Cut celery stalks into 4″ long pieces.
Radishes: Cut off top portion of radishes and any roots that might remain. It is best to use radishes that are less than 1 1/2″ in diameter.

Mushrooms: If you are using baby mushrooms, leave just a 1/4″ of the stem remaining. If using larger sized mushrooms, slice them down into individual pieces.

Green Pepper: Remove the stem and seeds. Cut down into sticks measuring 1/4″ by 4″ in length.

Arrange the lettuce leaves on your tray, covering the entire bottom of the tray. Take your prepared vegetables and arrange them around the tray in sections. Try to keep your colors separated and spread out the green colored vegetables. I like to use a green vegetable, then a colored vegetable and then another green vegetable and so forth as I go around my tray. Leave an opening in the center of your tray for your vegetable dip.
Once you have all your vegetables onto the tray, its time to garnish the tray.

Garnish Ideas:
If you are using a flat serving tray, you can separate your vegetable sections by laying a celery stick or carrot stick between each section. I like to add some additional color by garnishing with green and black olives, purple cabbage curls, radish shaped flowers or even a few green and red grapes.
Here is a great dip recipe.

Dill Weed Vegetable Dip
1 c. sour cream
1 c. mayonnaise
1 tbsp. dill weed
1 tbsp. parsley
1 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. minced onion
Mix all ingredients together until well blended. Chill for several hours before serving. Serve with raw vegetables. Makes 2 cups.

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How to Use Bodyweight Interval Training Instead of Cardio

A cario workout does not need to include the use of a treadmill, rower or exercise bike. As a matter of fact, all you need is your own bodyweight to get a great heart and lung improving workout.

I usually don’t use the word “cardio” because I find it to be misleading. I like to think of this type of training as Energy System training. By this I mean improving the way your body uses the nutrients to fuel your strenuous physical activity. Since this process relies mostly on the heart and lungs that is what most people focus on.

But the truth is, any exercise that raises your heart and breathing rates could be considered cardio. So, doing bodyweight intervals at a fast pace is also a “cardio” workout when done properly. I would like to stress than doing bodyweight intervals made up of a wide variety of bodyweight exercises is better for improving the heart and lugs, eliminating ugly fat and building a muscular body.

What Is Bodyweight Interval Training?
One way to perform this type of workout is to pick 3-4 bodyweight only exercises and perform 10 reps of each exercise back to back as a circuit. Don’t take any breaks between exercises. Keep going for a specific period of time… say 10-15 minutes. Sounds simple, right?

Here is what is going on. You should pick the bodyweight exercises so that your entire body is stressed. So, an upper body exercise, lower body and core. As you go through the workout, your entire body comes into play (instead or just your legs like running or biking).

While you are doing this full body bodyweight interval training workout, your heart and lungs are going to start working hard. The muscles all over your body start screaming for nutrients, and your lungs need more oxygen and your heart needs to deliver this oxygen and other nutrients. The entire system that delivers energy is stressed… and that is what has to happen for improvements to be made.

I think you’ll find, as I have, that bodyweight interval training is better at increasing endurance for activities done in the real world. Your body makes specific changes according to the specific demand placed upon it. So when you run, you get better at running. Unfortunately, when you do other activities you’ll find you are ill prepared. Using a series of bodyweight exercises trains not only every muscle in your body… but your heart and lungs as well.

Instead of your next boring cardio session, try bodyweight interval training instead. It will not only be more fun, but more effective at helping you increase heart and lung power, burn fat and build an attractive body. Bu be forewarned, you are not going to be able to watch TV or read a magazine while doing this workout!

Download a free copy of my Special Report “Bodyweight Exercise Cardio Intervals.

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Bodyweight Calisthenics Are Better Than Boring Cardio

So, you’ve just finished your workout and you are about to do some cardio to increase heart and lung power and burn off some unwanted fat. Your first instinct is to look for an exercise bike, row machine, treadmill or any other piece of equipment that gives you a cardio workout. You’ve just made a big mistake!
You see, you’ve just overlooked one of the best ways to get a great cardio workout as well as build a high-performance, athletic body… bodyweight calisthenics. You don’t need any equipment at all to get a great cardio workout. And there are added benefits for using bodyweight calisthenics instead of boring cardio.


You Can Do Bodyweight Calisthenics Anytime, Anywhere
The more you base your workouts (resistance or cardio) on equipment, the more excuses you have to NOT do the workout. If you only use an exercise bike… what do you do when the exercise equipment is in use? What happens if the row machine breaks? Most people will use that as an excuse to skip the cardio workout all together.

On the other hand, if you have a functioning body, you can use bodyweight calisthenics. As you can see, there are no excuses left for missing the workout. using bodyweight exercises for your cardio means you are ready for a workout anytime, anywhere… rain or shine.

Bodyweight Calisthenics Prepare You For Real World Challenges
Most exercisers wrongly believe that only monotonous, boring exercise is “cardio” exercise. But the truth is, AND activity that increases your heart rate and breathing rate can improve heart and lung function. And a fast paced circuit of bodyweight calisthenics is definitely going to get your heart and breathing rates up.

The added benefit is being prepared for real world challenges. The fact is, endurance improvements are specific to the activity trained. That means if you run, your heart and lungs get better for running. This explains why you get out of breath easily doing an activity you don’t practice in your workout. But on the other hand, bodyweight workouts can be made up of so many different types of exercises that they prepare your for challenges both inside and outside the gym.

You’ve Probably Been Neglecting Your Bodyweight Exercises
The sad fact is, you probably don’t do enough bodyweight exercises. Exercise is made up of movement… both moving around the weight of your own body in various directions AND moving weighted objects around. Unfortunately, most exercises spend most of their time training weighted resistance and neglect bodyweight only exercises. So, using bodyweight calisthenics as your cardio portion of your workout not only improves hear and lung endurance, but trains your body to move.

As you can see, bodyweight calisthenics are a great option as a substitute for your regular cardio workout. You’ll never have an excuse to skip a workout. You’ll ultimately build a more high-performance body ready to meet life’s challenges with excellence. And you’ll fulfill a much needs training requirement… bodyweight exercise. No matter how you cut it… bodyweight calisthenics are a great way to get both a cardio workout and build a high performance, athletic body.

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How to Make the Perfect Frozen Fruit Smoothie Recipe

At my house, we just love frozen fruit smoothies. They are simple to make and are actually good for you. You can make these delicious cool drinks with just about any type of fruit or even combine different types of fruit. Let me explain exactly how to make a frozen fruit smoothie. It is quite simple.

Fruit Smoothie

To Make These Amazing Smoothies You Will Need:
We’ll start with the equipment. You will need a blender to make good smoothies. A regular blender will do the job. A small, personal blender like the magic bullet is nice to have because you can customize each smoothie. Of course regular blenders work just as well, plus you can make more servings at a time.
Frozen fruit comes next. Frozen smoothies can be made with all sorts of different fruit and and feel free to mix and match as well. Great fruit to start with is strawberry, peach and banana.

Yogurt makes another great addition to just about any smoothie. They give it a nice tangy flavor and creamy texture. Low or non-fat yogurts are the most figure-friendly, but you can use any type of yogurt as well as any flavor. You can also use Greek yogurt which is thicker and has more protein per serving.

The last ingredient you need in your smoothie is a liquid to thin the drink out and make it blendable. You can use water, milk or your favorite juice. Add just enough liquid to get the smoothie to the consistency you like. A good ratio to use is 2-1-1 (frozen fruit – yogurt – liquid). A good example would be 2 cups frozen strawberries blended with 1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt and 1 cup skim milk.

Add more or less liquid until your smoothie gets the consistency you like best. You can also throw in a few ice cubes and blend them into your smoothie

Time to Blend:
Let’s talk about blending. Start by blending the fruit and yogurt a little, then add your liquid and blend away. If your blender has a pulsing function (most do) use it. It allows any larger piece of fruit to sink back down to the bottom and get chopped up. That way you will end up with a nice smooth smoothie.

If your blender starts working too hard, it’s time to add a little more liquid to make sure everything moves around well.

For smoothie recipes that call for ice in it, start with the ice and chop it up in your blender before you add the remaining ingredients. It will help mix the other ingredients together.

I tend to make most of my frozen fruit smoothies with only frozen fruit, but you can also use a combination of fresh and frozen. You can purchase the frozen fruit at the store, or freeze your own when it is in season. It is very easy to freezer berries for example. Just put them in a freezer bag and freeze them whole.

Slices of frozen banana make a great addition to just about any fruit smoothie. Whenever you find yourself with a banana that’s getting a little too ripe, peel it, and then slice it. Put them into a freezer bag and freeze until you need them for a smoothie. Adding them gives your smoothie a nice creamy texture and adds some sweetness as well.

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Your First Vegetarian Holiday Season – Some Great Cooking Tips

If you have just gone vegetarian and are coming up to you first vegetarian holiday season, or if you find yourself cooking for a vegetarian this holiday season this is the article for you. A vegetarian holiday season need not be a gloomy series of substitutes for meat. Vegetarian fare can be festive in its own right.


A good nut roast is one of the delights of the vegetarian table. It takes some time to make so it is not something that vegetarians eat every day. But it takes much less time than a turkey.

You will need a selection of nuts and this is season of nuts. You will also need a food processor to grind them to a paste. The kind of nuts you use influences the flavour and colour of the finished roast. Almonds, walnuts, cashews and some hazel nuts make an excellent vegetarian roast but be guided by your own tastes.
Grind the nuts and season them with salt, pepper and spices. Nutmeg is an ideal spice to use. Add some liquid such as vegetable stock and put the mixture into a tin. It should be baked in the oven for about an hour depending on size.

To accompany your vegetarian roast you will need sauces. Cranberry sauce is fine for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. An onion gravy made with vegetable stock will be eaten by all your guests.
Stuffing can be cooked in a separate dish. A combination of brown rice, dried fruit, chopped apples and spices will make a delicious accompaniment to the vegetarian roast. Just avoid adding meat fat. Rely on vegetable fat such as vegetarian suet.

For the visual aspect of a festive vegetarian meal you need to think about vegetables. Decorate your table with a variety of vegetable dishes. Baked squashes make a spectacular centre piece. Stuffed vegetables will show that you have taken that little bit of extra care about the meal.

If your meal is to be entirely vegetarian give the vegetables centre stage on your table. Their colours will delight the eyes of your diners. If you are entertaining vegetarians and non-vegetarians then the turkey will have to take pride of place. But all your guests will be able to tuck into the vegetarian dishes. Your meal may open their eyes to the world of vegetarian cuisine.

Remember that your vegetarian guests may be vegan. If you cannot ascertain this in advance then it will be as well to avoid the use of eggs and milk in your vegetarian dishes. A nust roast is often bound together with eggs but this is not essential. Cream sauces for dessert can be made from ground nuts. Cashews are always popular for this. Soya cream is also available.

When creating a cheese board take care to ensure that at least one cheese is made without rennet. Rennet comes from the lining of a cow’s stomach and many vegetarians will not eat it. You might also like to have a few soy based cheeses. The soft soy based cheeses are an excellent option for guests who are watching their cholesterol levels as well as vegetarians and vegans.

The whole point of a holiday season is to share with friends and family. So if you are a non-vegetarian cooking for vegetarians or you are a vegetarian cooking for non-vegetarians make your festive table welcoming to all.

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