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Today's Food & Family Notes

Category: Healthy Diet

Breaking In Your New Toaster Oven With Some Appetizers


With the start of a new football season just around the corner, it is never too early to think about your next Super Bowl party. Toaster ovens are great for this and they can help you prepare some appetizers that will truly leave an impression.  Below are a few of the tasty treats that will leave your guests wanting more and make your party the hit of the season.

Savory & Sweet Chicken Bites

Honey and ginger add plenty of flavor to these tasty appetizers, making them a great alternative to chicken wings or fried chicken tenders. Marinating the chicken at least a couple of hours (overnight is best) before cooking is key to their savory and exotic taste that will rival your favorite Chinese food take-out.


  • 2/3 cup of honey
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 ¼ pounds skinless, boneless, chicken thighs (approximately 16 thighs) cut into bite sized pieces
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch


  1. Mix first eight ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Pour marinade into a large plastic Ziploc bag. Add chicken. Let marinate at least two hours. Turn occasionally.
  2. Preheat oven to 425° degrees. We like to use a toaster oven (more on that below) but if you are expecting a ton of people then use your regular sized oven as these are often a huge hit and you will need to make a lot of them.
  3. Line a baking sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray. Remove chicken from bag (save marinade) and arrange on a sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring once.
  4. While chicken cooks, heat marinade in sauce pan, bringing to a boil.
  5. Mix your cornstarch with just enough water to make a smooth and creamy paste. Add to marinade and cook for one minute. Remove from heat and pour glaze into a large bowl.
  6. Toss cooked chicken pieces into the marinade bowl, coating well.
  7. Return to oven and cook additional five minutes.

Makes about 12 servings (1 ½ ounces each) with 179 calories and 4.4 grams of fat per serving. We prefer to use a toaster oven for many of our recipes because of the convenience and the reduction in the amount of time it takes to preheat and cook, plus they are a whole lot easier to clean up. If you get one with a convection cooking feature then it will take even less time although you will have to adjust your cook times slightly. If you do not have one of these small kitchen appliances then you need to get one. You can view recent toaster over reviews at to find an oven that has the features you need while also staying within your money limit. Trust me, having a countertop oven is a blessing and it is going to be well worth it.

Simple Black Bean Salsa & Corn

This is such and easy and tasty Super Bowl recipe, you’ll want to make it year round! Make it a day or two in advance to let the flavors meld. If you want to spice things up, throw in diced jalapeno peppers for added kick.


  • 15 oz can black beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 15 oz can whole kernel corn (rinsed and drained)
  • 16 oz jar of your favorite salsa

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Chill and serve with baked tortilla chips or fresh veggies. Voila!


If you have shied away from hummus because you aren’t a big fan of chic peas, think again! Roasted red peppers and kalimata olives give this recipe extra flavor. With less than 50 calories a serving, you can eat it guilt free!


  • ¼ cup chopped roasted red peppers
  • ¼ cup kalimata olives (pitted)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic
  • 15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

Place all ingredients in a good food processor and chop until smooth. Serve with pita chips, fresh vegetables or baked chips.
Makes about 1 ½ cups. Serving size is 2 tablespoons with 49 calories and 1.3 grams of fat per serving.

Party Safely

Hopefully these recipes will help make your Super Bowl party one to remember while not being too much work to prepare. If you have the right kitchen equipment, like a toaster oven and food processor, then things will probably go a lot smother. Remember, just because it is a party does not mean that you have to serve food that is unhealthy.

The Different Nutritional Needs Of Expectant Mothers


Good nutrition is crucial for anyone as it helps to promote a healthy lifestyle and prevent diseases. The importance of good nutrition is even magnified for pregnant women or women who are planning for pregnancy. This is because it does not only influence your health but also affects the growth and development of the unborn child.

Pregnancy, though, does not call for special program diets or exotic foods. On the contrary, it encourages one to eat a variety of foods to get optimum levels of nutrients to help both the mother and the baby. While a woman is pregnant, they might experience a spike in their hunger but it is advised that one not to overeat. By taking a heavy breakfast, it can help curb cravings for snacks, which are high in fats and sugars. The following serve as pointers of what to incorporate in a diet during pregnancy.

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are a very good source of vitamins and minerals. They help to keep the immunity system strong and healthy so as to ward off diseases. They are also important to facilitate various bodily functions to ensure good overall health. In addition, they also contain fiber that aids in the digestion process and prevents constipation. The recommended serving of fruits and vegetables should be at least five. Make sure to lightly cook vegetables or better yet wash them and eat them raw to benefit from the nutrients they contain. If this seems like too much work to eat all of these types of foods throughout the day then getting a juicer is another way to achieve your nutritional goals.

Starchy Foods (Carbohydrates)

Starch foods contain a lot of vitamins and fiber that are essential to health. In addition, due to their bulky nature, they are quite satisfying without having excess calories. They help to supply energy, which is incorporated to body cells to facilitate body metabolism. They should form the main part of every meal and should be whole meal. Examples include:

  • Breakfast Cereals
  • Rice
  • Potato
  • Yam among others


Proteins help a lot in growth and development, play a pivotal role in replacing worn out tissues and help in manufacture of important hormones and enzymes. Some important sources of protein include:

  • Lean meat
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Eggs
  • Beans
  • Nuts

Remember to pick only lean meat and cook them well using little fat. Also for eggs, poultry and meat make sure they are thoroughly cooked. Portions of fish such as salmon and sardines are also recommended as they have huge health benefits.


Dairy and dairy products are extremely important as they contain calcium and vitamin D, which aids in bone formation. They also contain other vital nutrients that are crucial to the development of the unborn child. Dairy foods include milk, yogurt, and cheese among others. Try to go for the low fat options such as skimmed milk. Two to three serving of dairy is recommended per day.

Foods High In Sugars and/or Fat

This category of foods should be consumed with moderation as excess of them can lead to weight gain. Fatty foods can also increase the level of cholesterol, which can lead to heart complications. Examples include:

  • Spread fats e.g. margarine
  • Ice cream
  • Pudding
  • Fizzy drinks
  • Crisps
  • Biscuits
  • Chocolate

Healthy Snacks

A pregnant woman may get hungry between meals and there is the urge to have a snack. However, try not to go for the high calorie snacks such as ice cream and biscuits but the health snack such as:

  • Sandwiches
  • Salad vegetables
  • Low fat yogurt
  • Fresh fruits
  • Unsweetened juices

Apart from eating healthy foods, a pregnant woman should pay attention on how they prepare these foods. This will help to prevent contaminations and pathogens that can cause serious diseases. The following practices are advised.

  • Wash thoroughly fruits and vegetables to remove traces of soil, which may contain pathogens.
  • Make sure all surfaces and utensils are washed after handling raw meat. Do not forget to wash your hands.
  • Ensure that ready to eat foods and raw foods are stored separately to avoid food poisoning and contamination.

Proper nutrition and healthy dietary practices are essential to the overall well being of both you and the baby. It helps one to get the necessary nutrients that help in the child’s development. In addition, supplements are also very important to supply the various nutrients both to the mother and unborn child. Always remember that a healthy diet will translate into a healthy and fun pregnancy experience for you, making it so important and necessary to have these foods in your daily diet.  Always consult with your physician for any dietary changes and advice.

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