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Bring joy to mealtimes by dining together: Benefits of a Mediterranean lifestyle

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(Family Features) The renowned Mediterranean Diet, celebrated for its myriad benefits, has been rated as a top diet in the world for years. 

Recognizing the benefits of the foods included in the Mediterranean Diet, it’s important to broaden the understanding beyond its ingredients to embrace the elements of the Mediterranean lifestyle, which also contribute to these benefits. Essentially, it’s not just about what you eat; it’s also about how you enjoy it and with whom you share the experience.

Nutrition, physical activity, sleep and togetherness comprise this balanced way of living, with preparing, eating and enjoying food together being key elements of the Mediterranean lifestyle. You can immerse yourself in the vibrant spirit of the Mediterranean lifestyle simply by inviting friends or family to gather around the table for a meal – like a family favorite pasta dish.

The benefits of gathering around the table are abundant, ranging from fostering stronger connections and communication among family members to enhancing overall well-being. In fact, first-of-its-kind research conducted by researchers at the University of Minnesota and supported by Barilla, the world’s leading pasta maker, demonstrates that people experience greater happiness when they share meals with others, highlighting the importance of togetherness.

Published in “Families, Systems, & Health,” the research shows a strong positive correlation between how often people gather around the table during mealtimes and enhanced connectedness, reduced depressive symptoms and an improvement in overall mood.

Semolina pasta is a staple for many people in the Mediterranean region, playing a significant role in culinary history and making it a favorite ingredient in dishes aligned with the Mediterranean lifestyle and gathering around the table. For example, these recipes for Cellentani Caprese Pasta Salad and Linguine with Zucchini Carbonara are perfect for sharing, whether you’re hosting friends and neighbors or enjoying a meal with someone special.

A high-quality, minimally processed carbohydrate, semolina pasta is naturally low in sodium, a good source of fiber and contains a variety of micronutrients.

“Eating together is a joyful and important practice of the Mediterranean lifestyle that truly contributes to overall well-being,” said Michele Lefebvre, registered dietitian nutritionist and manager of nutrition and well-being at Barilla America. “As a traditional yet versatile food, pasta brings a sense of nostalgia to meals as people gather together around the table and connect in an impactful way.”

Visit barilla.com/recipes to discover more dishes that can help you follow the Mediterranean lifestyle.

Cellentani Caprese Pasta Salad

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Servings: 7

  • 1 box Barilla Protein+ Cellentanii pasta
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 pints grape tomatoes, mixed color, halved
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 8 basil leaves, julienned
  • 2 cups small mozzarella cheese balls, halved
  • salt, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste
  1. Bring large pot of water to boil. Cook pasta according to package directions and drain. Drizzle pasta with 1 tablespoon olive oil and place on sheet tray to cool. Set aside.
  2. In large bowl, combine tomatoes, lemon juice, basil, remaining olive oil and cheese. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add pasta and stir.

Linguine with Zucchini Carbonara

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Servings: 8

  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated, divided
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium zucchini, julienned
  • 1 box Barilla Linguine
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
  • black pepper, to taste
  1. Bring large pot of water to boil.
  2. In bowl, mix egg yolks, 1/3 cup Pecorino Romano cheese and milk. Season with salt, to taste. Set aside.
  3. In large skillet, heat olive oil and cook zucchini.
  4. Cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water.
  5. Mix pasta in pan with zucchini. Add egg yolk mixture and 2 tablespoons cooking water. Combine well.
  6. Add remaining cheese and mint; mix. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.


SOURCE:
Barilla

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EDIBLES

Enjoy a fruit-infused Fourth of July

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(Family Features) As patriotic parties roll on throughout the day and fireworks light up the night, Fourth of July fun calls for favorite snacks that complement the excitement. Whether you’re a pyro or prefer to leave the fiery entertainment to the experts, one thing you can take charge of is the dessert table.

Summer is a perfect time to make fruit the star of the show, and Fourth of July is no exception. These special occasions can be uplifted with the aroma and flavor of Envy Apples, a leading apple variety that offers an invitation to guests to savor memorable moments together.

Their versatility makes them ideal for sweet treats like these Apple and Berry Cream Cheese Tarts for a patriotic touch with red, white and blue pops of color. These tasty bites are shareable, handheld and festive, making them a savvy solution that keeps entertaining simple.

Just combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla and milk, pipe onto baked tart shells and top with raspberries, blueberries and star-shaped apple cutouts. Better yet, you can even swap out raspberries for preferred red fruits like strawberries or cherries, if desired.

If all the planning and entertaining leaves you short on time, turn to these Patriotic Apple “Donuts” that swap out traditional dough for thick, round apple slices topped with cream cheese and sprinkles. With just a few ingredients, you can slice the apples then let little ones in on the fun by spreading the cream cheese and decorating with sprinkles.

The craveable texture and crunch of Envy Apples provides balanced sweetness for these favorite desserts and beyond, giving guests the ultimate apple experience for all your Fourth of July festivities. They’re an appealing backdrop for pops of red and white in patriotic recipes as their flesh remains whiter longer, even after cutting or slicing, so they look fresh and delicious throughout the holiday.

To find more Fourth of July salads, main courses, sides and desserts, visit EnvyApple.com.

Apple and Berry Cream Cheese Tarts

  • 1 cup diced raspberries
  • 4 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1 cup halved blueberries
  • 1 package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 12 frozen mini tart shells, approximately 2 inches in diameter
  • 3 Envy Apples, cut into 12 large slices (around cores)
  1. In bowl, stir raspberries and 2 tablespoons sugar. In separate bowl, stir blueberries and remaining sugar. Let sit 30-60 minutes.
  2. Beat together cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla and milk. Spoon into piping bag and cut off small part of tip.
  3. Bake tart shells according to package directions. Once baked and cooled, fill halfway with cream cheese mixture.
  4. Using small star cookie cutter, cut shapes from apple slices.
  5. Top half of each tart with spoonful of raspberries and other half with blueberries. Top each with apple star and repeat with remaining ingredients.

Patriotic Apple “Donuts”

Servings: 6

  • 2 Envy Apples
  • 2/3 cup whipped cream cheese
  • 6-10 tablespoons red, white and blue sprinkles
  1. Cut apples horizontally to create thick, round slices. Use round cookie cutter to remove apple cores.
  2. Spread cream cheese on “donuts.” Top with sprinkles.


SOURCE:
Envy Apple

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EDIBLES

Fuel family fun with this easy recipe

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(Family Features) Between work, after-school activities and homework, planning memorable family time is nearly impossible. Changing that mindset can start by making mealtime simpler with recipes that serve up big smiles for the whole family and fuel fun, even on weeknights.

As a quick and easy mealtime solution that gives families time back to make lasting memories, Mrs. T’s Pierogies are pasta pockets filled with the stuff you love like creamy mashed potatoes, cheesy goodness and other big, bold flavors.

You can find a little inspiration in recipes like these Pierogy Burrito Bowls, loaded with pierogies, cherry tomatoes, corn, sliced avocado and homemade avocado mayo crema for a simple meal everyone in the family can enjoy.

No matter how parents switch up their weeknight routines, like a trip to the park or an at-home movie night, pierogies make weeknight recipes like this one possible because they’re simple and easy to prepare, leaving more time for parents to do the stuff they love with the ones they love.

Find more recipes fit for family fun by visiting MrsTsPierogies.com.

Pierogy Burrito Bowls

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4

Burrito Bowls:

  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil
  • 1 bag (2 pounds) Mrs. T’s 4 Cheese Medley Pierogies
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn, lightly roasted
  • 1 ripe avocado, pitted and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup pickled red onions
  • 3/4 cup Cotija cheese
  • fresh chopped cilantro, for garnish

Avocado Mayo Crema:

  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1 ripe avocado, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 lime, juice only
  1. To make burrito bowls: In medium skillet over medium heat, add avocado oil. Saute pierogies in batches, approximately 8 minutes on both sides, until golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Divide pierogies, cherry tomatoes, corn, avocado, pickled red onions and Cotija cheese evenly among serving bowls. Garnish with cilantro.
  3. To make avocado mayo crema: In food processor, process mayo, avocado and lime juice until smooth.
  4. Drizzle avocado mayo crema over bowls, as desired.


SOURCE:
Mrs. T’s Pierogies

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EDIBLES

A savory summer dessert perfect for sharing

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(Family Features) Put delicious desserts back on the menu all summer long with savory favorites that don’t call for wasting sunny days in the kitchen. Single-serve solutions are perfect for sharing with guests, whether you’re hosting a pool party or calling over loved ones for a backyard barbecue.

This Peanut Butter Cookie Banana Pudding can be prepped first thing in the morning and refrigerated until it’s time for a treat. Portioned in 1/4-pint canning jars (or small, kid-proof cups to avoid a mess) for individual servings, you can simply break them out when the dessert bell dings and top them with whipped topping and extra cookies.

At 7 grams per serving, a nutrient-rich powerhouse like peanuts can put a better-for-you spin on summer sweets. They deliver the most protein of any nut and contain six essential – vitamin E, folate, riboflavin, thiamin, niacin and vitamin B6 – and seven essential minerals – phosphorus, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, copper and calcium.

Visit gapeanuts.com to find more protein-packed recipe ideas.

Watch video to see how to make this recipe!

https://youtube.com/watch?v=7jWr1MNh8Ns%3Fmodestbranding%3D1%26rel%3D0%26showinfo%3D0

Peanut Butter Cookie Banana Pudding
Recipe courtesy of Peanut Butter Lovers on behalf of the Georgia Peanut Commission

  • 1          box (5.1 ounces) instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 3          cups cold milk
  • 1          package (16 ounces) peanut butter sandwich cookies, divided
  • 12        canning jars (1/4 pint each)
  • 2-3       bananas
  • frozen whipped topping, thawed
  1. In large measuring cup, whisk pudding mix and milk until thoroughly combined. Set aside to soft set, about 5 minutes.
  2. Cut or break six cookies in half and set aside. Pour remainder of package in 1-gallon bag, seal it and use rolling pin to crush cookies.
  3. Spoon layer of cookie crumbs in bottom of each jar, reserving some for topping. Top with layer of vanilla pudding. Cut one banana in half lengthwise and slice. Put layer of bananas on top of pudding. Top bananas with another layer of pudding. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
  4. Refrigerate until ready to serve. To serve, top with whipped topping and sprinkle with crushed cookies. Serve each with broken cookie half.

Note: Twelve 1/4-pint canning jars fit into disposable foil lasagna pan with clear lid for easy refrigeration and transportation.


SOURCE:
Georgia Peanut Commission

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