Healthy Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream

This weekend my home town, Fort Mill, celebrated with their 2nd annual strawberry festival. My son sang with the school choir at the festival (well, actually he lip synched because he felt embarrassed) and my daughter had her picture in The Herald while petting a sheep at the petting zoo.

Between the strawberry recipe contest and the fresh strawberries sold on site, the focus of the event is all about the strawberries. Fort Mill is home to Springs Farm, which has the BEST strawberries. I feel so lucky that we have a strawberry field right across the street from our neighborhood. This weekend we plan to “pick-our-own” strawberries, and I will blog about the experience, but today I wanted to provide you guys with an amazing homemade strawberry ice cream recipe.

We picked up a gallon of freshly picked strawberries and set out to make our own homemade ice cream. I love ice cream, but most store-bought ice cream is either full of fat, calories or chemicals. They get their flavor from extracts rather than fresh fruit, so their nutritional value is minimal.

My homemade strawberry ice cream recipe is extremely simple with only four ingredients and the focus is on the fruit

And when you hear the health benefits of strawberries, you will want the focus to be on the fruit. Strawberries have the 3rd highest level of antioxidants among all U.S. foods, including spices, fruits and vegetables (based on common serving sizes.)  The polyphenols in strawberries also play a major role in regulating blood sugar. Strawberries also have anti-inflammatory properties, which contributes towards their role in lowering one’s risk of developing heart disease and cancer. One cup of strawberries has only 43 calories, 136% of daily value for vitamin C and 3 grams of fiber. Give this delicious recipe and try and let me know what you think.

Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream

  • 4 cups strawberries
  • 1 can fat-free evaporated milk
  • 1 can fat-free sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract


Freeze the ice cream canister for several hours prior to preparing the ice cream. Hull the strawberries and puree with a hand blender. Combine milks, strawberry puree and vanilla extract. Pour into ice cream canister and prepare according to your manufacturer’s instructions.

Oregano Herb Garden

The sun is shining, the weather is warm and I have been bit by the gardening bug. I’ve never had a garden before, but there is something so alluring about growing my own fruits, vegetables and herbs. I even wrote two articles recently about gardening for My Carolina Town magazine. One was about Herb Gardening and the other focused on container gardening.

Growing your own herbs is a great way to get started in gardening. I bought an oregano plant recently and have been using it in my cooking. Oregano is a great herb to start with, not only because it’s fairly easy to grow, but also because oregano is rich in a whole host of nutrients, including calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, potassium, copper, boron, manganese, vitamin C, vitamin A and niacin. Oregano has more antioxidants than any other herb. According to a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, oregano has forty-two times more antioxidant activity than apples, thirty times more than potatoes, twelve times more than oranges, and get this……four times more than blueberries! Blueberries are the antioxidant powerhouse of fruits, so this is absolutely amazing!

The essential oil in oregano contains thymol and carvacrol, which have antifungal, antibacterial and antiparasitic properties. This herb’s oil also has been used as a digestive aid and supports joint function.

Because the essential oils in oregano are most powerful when harvested fresh, it is especially beneficial grow your own oregano rather than buy the herb dried at the grocery store.

Oregano is also versatile in cooking and delicious in Italian and Greek cooking. I use fresh oregano sprigs in roasted chicken, homemade soup and tomato sauce. Try out this recipe for homemade pasta sauce and let me know what you think:

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce


  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 (28 ounce) can peeled and diced tomatoes
  • 4 teaspoons dried basil
  • 4 teaspoons dried oregano


In a large saucepan heat oil over medium heat. Sauté onion and garlic. When onions are clear, stir in tomatoes, basil and oregano. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes.

Do you grow your own herbs? Do you have vegetable garden? Would love to hear your tips!

Exhausted? Eat this to get your energy back.

I was completely shocked when I read that America’s top weight loss coach, best-selling author and nationally known expert on weight loss, nutrition and health – Dr. Jonny Bowden said that sardines are “health food in a can.” I was even more shocked to learn that sardines can not only help with overwhelming fatigue, but they can improve my mood, memory and metabolism. 

Sardines are full of healthy omega-3 fats. While we typically think of fat as “bad,” Omega-3 fats are definitely the exception. Why? Consider that a mere ½ gram of omega-3 fats a day can significantly decrease cardiovascular risk. Omega-3s can also reduce the risk of stroke and reduce the symptoms of depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), joint pain and rheumatoid arthritis. Omega-3s have even been linked to protection against Alzheimer’s

We’ve all heard that we should eat more salmon to increase our intake of omega-3 fatty acid, but sardines are an equally good choice. Sardines are also convenient, since they can be eaten straight from the can, no preparation needed.

Speaking of the can, make sure that you get sardines packed in their own oil or olive oil, but do not buy the kind packed in vegetable oil. The vegetable oil simply loads them up with omega-6 fats, which are not good for you at all.

 Omega-3 fats aren’t all you will get from those little fish. Sardines are also loaded with calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper and manganese. One can of sardines also provides over 150 percent of your Daily Value of vitamin B12. Sardines are also a great choice for pregnant women because they are low in mercury, unlike tuna. 

I headed to Trader Joes to pick up my dreaded can of sardines. I trust Trader Joes and figured if I had to try those little suckers, I’ll buy it from my go-to health food store. 

I have a confession though – I let that little can of sardines sit in my pantry for three full months before I built up the courage to try them. I was dreading the day I would have to try them. I even considered blogging about the health benefits without trying them, but quickly snapped back to my senses. My commitment to you is that I will try every one of the top 150 foods on earth, even as horrible as they may sound. I survived bee pollen. I actually enjoyed kale. I could survive sardines. 

I found a sardine recipe in the December 2010 edition of Whole Living magazine and decided that it was time….

The article stated that this dish, Spinach Pesto with Sardines, was essential to try if you are “feeling fatigued and spreading yourself too thin.” Bingo! I was definitely feeling run down, tired and overwhelmed – maybe this would help. 

I prepared the recipe (below) and gingerly placed two sardines on top of the pesto covered Naan bread. I closed my eyes so I wouldn’t have to look at those little fish bodies and I bravely took a bite. The spinach pesto was delicious and the sardines were innocuous. Their flavor was milder than tuna and the texture was firm, neither crunchy nor mushy. If I could just get over their appearance, I’d be willing to add these babies to my regular rotation, but I have a difficult time ignoring their headless shining bodies. 

Give this recipe for Sardine topped Spinach Pesto a try and let me know what you think. The recipe suggested serving on rustic bread, but I found the Indian Naan bread at Trader Joes to be absolutely delicious! 

Spinach Pesto with Sardines 


  • 1 lb. baby spinach
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 can sardines
  • 1 package Trader Joes Naan Bread


Sautee spinach with garlic and red pepper flakes until wilted. Transfer to food processor and add pine nuts and Parmesan. Pulse until finely ground. With the machine running, add the olive oil and season with salt. Meanwhile, toast the Naan bread. Spread the Naan bread with the spinach pesto and top with two sardines.

Chunky Caramel-Apple Pumpkin Spice Dip and the Health Benefits of Cloves

This is for all of my friends who asked for this Chunky Caramel-Apple Pumpkin Spice Dip recipe after I posted on Facebook last night. I made one mistake on my Facebook post though – this dip doesn’t have 80 calories a serving, it only has 52 calories a serving! This pumpkin apple spice dip is the BEST dip I’ve ever made. It’s so good that it doesn’t even need to be eaten as a dip, you can just eat it by the spoonful, which I have to admit, I did.

We had friends over last night while we watched the Steelers playoff game and I made this amazing dip as an appetizer. I liked it so much, that when my husband brought out the Apple Brown Betty pie that he bought from Fresh Market, I opted for a spoonful of this dip instead.

Did I mention that not only does this dip taste amazing, but it is chockfull of good-for-you ingredients, including apples, pumpkin, cinnamon and cloves? All for only has 52 calories a serving. I have to give Hungry Girl credit for this amazing recipe. If you haven’t heard of Hungry Girl, go to and sign up for her newsletter – she has the most amazing healthy versions of typically calorie-laden foods.

I want to share the recipe with you, but first I wanted to talk a little about the health benefits of cloves. Cloves made the top 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth list for their medicinal properties. Cloves are the unopened pink flower buds of the evergreen clove tree. They resemble little nails and their name is actually derived from the Latin word clavus, which means nail. Cloves have been consumed in Asia for more than 2,000 years. Back in 200 BC Chinese men would keep cloves in their mouths to keep their breath fresh when courting women. In Asian medicine cloves are thought to be among the spices that promote energy circulation and increase in metabolic rate.

Cloves are best known for their antiseptic and anesthetic properties. The next time you have a toothache try putting a little dab of clove oil on your gums. The pain dissipates almost immediately and clove oil works better than any over-the-counter product I’ve found. You will also notice clove oil in some over-the-counter sore throat sprays and mouth washes.

Cloves contain significant amounts of an active component called eugenol, which is known to help kill bacteria and viruses. Eugenol is also an anti-inflammatory and contains a variety of flavonoids, kaempferol and rhamnetin, which also contribute to cloves’ anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Cloves are also an excellent source of manganese, fiber, vitamin C and omega-3 fatty acids.

So when you eat this dip you’ll know that you are not only getting the amazing antioxidant power of apples, the potassium and fiber punch from pumpkin, blood sugar stabilizing cinnamon, but also the metabolic boost of cloves. All of that in a Super bowl party snack? Try out this recipe and please post back on this blog and let me know what you think. I can’t wait to hear if you love it as much as I do!

Chunky Caramel-Apple Pumpkin Spice Dip (recipe from Hungry Girl 200 under 200 cookbook)


  • One 8-ounce container fat-free cool whip
  • One 15-ounce can pumpkin
  • 1 small box sugar-free fat-free instant vanilla pudding
  • 2 cups chopped apples
  • 1 tablespoon Splenda
  • 2 teaspoons fat-free caramel dip
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves


  1. Place apples in bowl with ¼ cup water. Microwave for 2 minutes. When cool enough to handle, drain water.
  2. Place ½ cup cold water in small saucepan. Add Splenda, cornstarch, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ½ teaspoon vanilla, and mix thoroughly.
  3. Bring saucepan to medium-high heat, and then add caramel dip. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick, hot and bubbly, about 5 minutes. Then add apples and stir until mixed. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  4. Meanwhile, mix cinnamon and cloves and remaining vanilla extract into the fat-free cool whip.
  5. In a large bowl, combine sugar-free, fat-free vanilla pudding with the pumpkin and stir well. Fold in the cool whip until completely blended. Refrigerate.
  6. Once the caramel apples are cold, stir them into the pumpkin mixture.
  7. Serve with sliced apples or cinnamon rice cakes.

Thyme of my life (Dirty Bit)


A classic song from my favorite 80s movie, Dirty Dancing (No one puts baby in a corner.) 

An AWESOME new song by the Black Eyed Peas from their new album, “The Beginning,” just released yesterday. 

Hit number from last night’s episode of Glee (if you missed it, go to itunes to check it out.) 

And on the dinner table on Thanksgiving, in the thyme and sage stuffing. 

Time is everywhere lately, yet I still don’t seem to ever have enough of it. 

Give yourself some more time in your life by adding thyme to your diet. Thyme has a long history in healing a wide variety of ailments. According to the natural health and diet site, thyme is a powerful antioxidant and can improve the life and longevity of human cells, and therefore prolong the life of the body. 

Thyme can aid digestion and even help relieve chest and respiratory problems, such as coughs and bronchitis. The essential oil from thyme is also used for aromatherapy and can help relieve exhaustion, depression and upper respiratory tract infections. 

Thyme is also a powerful antiseptic and is used in everything from toothpaste to deodorant to even surgical dressings. 

This herb works really well in any kind of slow cooked-dish. According to the Old Home Remedies website, you can also make your own homemade cough syrup with thyme. Try out this old home remedy below and let me know if it works for you. 

Homemade Thyme Cough Syrup

Pour 2 cups boiling water over 2 tablespoons of dried thyme. Cool to room temperature. Strain and add 1 cup of honey. Shake to mix well. Keep refrigerated. Take 1 tablespoon several times a day for sore throats, colds, and coughing.

Day 52: Wonderful Watermelon

Watermelon has three key elements that create a “perfect storm” for making it one of the healthiest foods on the planet: high water content, high levels of lycopene and high levels of vitamin A.

Let’s start with the high water content. Study after study shows that high volume foods are one of your best allies for weight loss. The reason why is that water, as a part of food, has a very satisfying and filling effect. The fascinating thing is that these studies show that food with water incorporated in them, such as vegetable soup, watermelon (92% water) and cucumbers (97% water), are even more satisfying than eating the same amount of food with a glass of water. So, a bowl of vegetable soup will fill you up more than eating a bowl of broccoli and downing a big glass of water. When water is bound to food it slows down the absorption and lasts longer in your tummy. Read more about foods with high water content and how they can contribute to weight loss.

But the benefits don’t stop there. The lycopene in watermelon (also in tomatoes) has been shown to lower the rate of prostate, lung and stomach cancer. Another fascinating fact is that lycopene supplements have not shown that same benefit, there is something about consuming the lycopene in their natural surroundings with other food ingredients that results in the health benefits.

To top it off, the vitamin A in watermelon is great for your eyes and has outstanding antioxidant properties.

For me the best benefit of watermelon is the taste! The flavor screams summer and I know that the lazy days of summer have arrived when I first bite into a juicy slice of watermelon. Memorial Day weekend just passed and I had watermelon every single day! It is a perfect food to serve at a cookout or when you have company because you can just slice it up and everyone can munch on it while waiting for the burgers to come off of the grill.

I personally like watermelon just as it is without any adornment, but I did find a great site with tons of Watermelon recipes. One in particular that I thought was great for kids is watermelon skewers. I don’t know about you, but my kids are more willing to try something new if it’s on a stick!

Watermelon Skewers


  • Watermelon
  • Cubes of turkey breast
  • Cubes of light Swiss cheese


  • Alternate the watermelon, turkey and cheese on a wooden skewer or plastic straw. It’s a complete meal on a stick!

Do you like watermelon? How do you enjoy it? Have you ever made a watermelon salsa?