During the holiday season everyone turns to the comforting, nurturing foods and beverage they know best and remember from their country, home, and childhood. Regardless of what holiday you celebrate, do you have a favorite drink that you shared with family and visitors or just sat and sipped on during those days? I do. My favorite holiday drink, traditional during Christmas, New Year and the Epiphany (Three Kings Day) celebrations, is Coquito.
The name is a diminutive for the word coco, or coconut. Although the drink is usually made with white rum, it is just as good made without any alcohol. It was usual to have both versions so children could enjoy it too. This is why I remember drinking it since I was a very small child. To me there is no Christmas without Coquito and I start making batches right after Thanksgiving. It goes as fast as I make it, and all my friends expect their own bottle as a holiday gift.
If you’ve never tried this delicious drink you can find Tropical CocoNog - our non-alcoholic version of my family's original recipe - in Flavorful Fortified Food – Recipes to Enrich Life along with other nurturing and delicious recipes that are easy to make.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
The best and most rewarding part of making this delicious drink is that I know the many nutritional benefits of coconut products. Coconut milk in particular is believed to calm nerve cells, strengthen bones, fight virus & infection, lower cholesterol & relieve arthritis. Coconut oil has been recently linked to improvements in mental acuity in early stages of Alzheimer’s.
December is National Pear Month. There are 3,000 varieties of pears worldwide from Asia, Europe to North America. In the U.S. there are ten fairly common varieties of pears. It helps to know a little about these types of pears. Cooked pears are excellent but use the wrong kind and you will not be happy — the texture turns to mush.
Bartlett pears are the most common pear, they are all-purpose pears with the classic pear shape. Bartletts can have green skins that turn yellow when ripe or can have red skins that do not change color with ripening. Use for eating fresh or in salads and desserts
Anjou pears vary in color from light green to yellow-green to fiery red and the color doesn’t change when ripe. They have a squat shape and are firm with a mealy texture. Use for eating fresh or in salads and desserts.
Asian pears an apple shape and are also known as Chinese pears or apple pears because of their apple-pear flavor and crunchy texture. Use for eating fresh, in salads or baking.
Bosc pears have a tan-gold color and are slender shaped with a longer top and long, thin stem. They have a subtle nutty flavor and buttery texture. Use for eating fresh or baking, broiled, or poached since they retain their shape and texture.
Comice pears are the sweetest and juiciest of all the varieties. These pears have a fragile skin and may appear bruised on the outside, but there is no damage to the interior. Use for eating fresh.
Pears are delicious and healthy. A medium pear (about the size of an adult fist) provides 100 calories, 2 grams of fiber, 7 mg Vitamin C , and 208 mg potassium, 19 mg calcium, and 18 mg phosphorus.
Pears can be added to recipes to replace apples, used as a topping, and as part of appetizers, desserts, snacks, entrees and salads. Try using pears in the Creamy Fruit Salad Shake, Fruit Shake, Peach Milkshake, Breakfast Bread Pudding, Dairy-free Super Cereal, Enriched Cereal, Fruited Gelatin, Rice Pudding, or Super Pudding recipes found in Flavorful Fortified Foods – Recipes to Enrich Life.
On Microwave oven day, it's time to pause from our usual nutrition topics and revisit food safety. The good news is the 2013 Food Code was released by FDA on November 13th and there are no changes relating to the use of microwave use.
Thawing - If you thaw food in a microwave oven, it must
be cooked immediately after thawing.
Cooking - Foods cooked in a microwave oven shall be rotated or stirred throughout or midway during cooking to compensate for uneven distribution of heat. Cover the foods to retain surface moisture. Cook food to a
temperature of at least 165⁰F in all parts of the food. Allow the food to stand covered for 2 minutes after cooking so the heat is distributed evenly.
Reheating - Food reheated in a microwave oven for hot holding shall be reheated so that all parts of the food reach a temperature of at least 165⁰F, it is rotated or stirred, covered, and allowed to stand covered for 2 minutes after reheating.
Microwave ovens are a huge help to individuals who need assistance to have a hot meal. Using them properly will help keep food safe and prevent getting sick from improperly handled food. Stay safe!
Digna and Linda have years of experience working with individuals needing assistance to eat sufficient calories and protein in multiple settings. Flavorful Fortified Food - Recipes to Enrich Life is our way to share this knowledge with clients, patients, athletes, caregivers, and professionals.