I promise you that I’m not being a grump when I say that I’m seriously glad to see 2013 come to an end. There are a couple of unmet goals that I’d like a fresh start at, one of which is my plan to be 50 pounds lighter by my 50th birthday, which is at the end of January. I named my mission in a big social media way…with a hashtag, of course. I want to be #FitBy50, and I was getting there…until the dreaded carb-loaded holidays approached. Although I’ve drastically lowered my intake of carbohydrates over the past 9 months, I find it all but impossible to completely dismiss them from my eating plan. Truthfully, I’d rather eat those bad carbs in moderation than to deny myself and end up binge eating them at 2 a.m. by the light of my refrigerator door. Of course, I’ve NEVER done that. Well, maybe just once…or twice, or 10 times. Anyhoo, the problem really came in when I couldn’t decide between making mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, or stuffing for Thanksgiving dinner. I somehow felt the need to make and consume them all, in mass quantities. So here I am, 33 days away from my 50th birthday and I’m only half way to my goal. *Insert hammer to my head here* To lose 25 pounds in 33 days could be doable for some people, but I’m not going to hold out hope for it. I’m not blaming this on anyone but myself. I wasn’t making the most of my gym membership, so I cancelled it in November. Now that it’s the middle of winter in Wisconsin and I’m pretty sure that there’s no way to lose weight standing in ice and snow storms for the next 4 months, I’ll just jump back onto the healthy eating wagon for now. I’ve got a desire to git ‘er done! Besides, I’ve been walking an average of 6-8 miles during the work shifts on the sales floor at the department store. It’s not high intensity aerobics, but it’s still keeping my heart in good shape and helping me to burn off what I eat.
One of the things that I KNOW will help me stay on track with my healthy eating plan is having the new health key™ system at Pick ‘n Save at my disposal when I’m grocery shopping. This is such an awesome tool, and it fits perfectly with Pick ‘n Save’s new tagline and philosophy, “New Every Day”. Actually, it’s more like a mission than a tagline. Pick ‘n Save is perfect for busy parents who appreciate having healthy, fresh foods for available to feed to their family, and Pick ‘n Save helps by offering the best selection and quality of fresh ingredients and meal inspiration to help make that task easier. The best part is, it’s not just for people watching their weight. The health key is a simple guide to eating better and living healthier. There are 18 different color coded tags that help you identify foods that you’re buying. There are tags for items that are gluten-free, organic, lean, vegan, and low in saturated fat. The tags are located under the pricing information so they’re relatively easy to spot. You can get the complete health key list and more information about how to use it on the Pick ‘n Save site.
So now that you know how and where to select healthier foods, let’s drink a toast to a healthier 2014 with my recipe for this sugar free cranberry & blood orange spritzer. I used Wisconsin cranberries and juicy, delicious blood oranges from Frieda’s produce, which were both conveniently located in the Pick ‘n Save produce aisle at the store I shopped at.
- Blood Oranges may look like regular oranges on the outside, but their inner flesh ranges from rosy-red to a deep burgundy purple. Their flavor is less acidic than a regular orange with light raspberry notes. The Moro Blood Orange variety is one of the most popular in the United States, having the darkest internal color.
- A cousin of the blueberry and huckleberry, cranberries are loaded with antioxidants, vitamin C, and phyto (plant based) nutrients that can help prevent urinary tract infections.
I’ve been alcohol free for the past 16 years and I can attest that a New Year’s Eve celebration without an alcoholic beverage can be just as tasty, equally as fun, and much safer than a boozy counterpart. Besides all of that, you’ll save money because you won’t need to worry about finding a designated driver or hailing a cab while you’re enjoying this spritzer recipe, AND the kids can have a glass or two with you at the stroke of midnight. See how helpful I can be?
I garnished the spritzer with sugar-free candied blood oranges and sugared cranberries, which despite the name, are also sugar-free. I used a low-glycemic sugar substitute from NuNaturals that can be used cup for cup to real sugar, but there are lots of others available on the market that you can use if you prefer them.
I hope you enjoy this spritzer recipe, and I also hope that no matter how you celebrate it, that you have a FABULOUS and SAFE New Year’s Eve. I look forward to bringing you lots of healthy goodness to help you feed your stomach AND your spirit in 2014!
- FOR THE CRANBERRY SIMPLE SYRUP
- 8 ounces (1 cup) water
- 1 cup NuNaturals PreSweet(TM) Tagatose (or other granular sugar substitute*)
- 2 cups raw cranberries (fresh or frozen)
- FOR THE BLOOD ORANGE SIMPLE SYRUP
- 4 ounces (1/2 cup) water
- 1/2 cup NuNaturals PreSweet(TM) Tagatose (or other granular sugar substitute*)
- 2 fresh blood oranges, UNPEELED, cut into 1/8th inch slices
- 40 ounces (5 cups) sugar free lemon lime soda
- juice of 2 blood oranges
- 4 ounces (1/2 cup) cranberry juice
- PREPARE SIMPLE SYRUPS and CANDIED FRUITS
- Prepare simple syrups separately, using two medium sized saucepans.
- In each saucepan, bring sugar and water to a boil over high heat. Stir until sugar has dissolved, then remove one pan from the heat completely and lower temperature to a very slow simmer in the other. Add blood orange slices to the simmering pan and cranberries to the pan you removed from the heat. Simmer oranges for 25 minutes, or until white pith is translucent, using tongs to flip slices occasionally. Remove orange slices from pan and spread onto parchment lined sheet pan to dry completely.
- Add orange syrup to a large pitcher or punch bowl.
- Allow the cranberries to steep in the simple syrup for 30 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove cranberries from the liquid and place them onto a parchment lined sheet pan and allow to dry for about 2 hours, until they become tacky to the touch. Then roll them in granulated sugar substitute. Store in an airtight container for up to 4-5 days.
- FOR THE SPRITZER
- Add HALF of cranberry syrup to the orange syrup. You can add more later if you want your spritzer to be sweeter. Add cranberry juice, orange juice, and sugar free soda. Stir to combine. If spritzer is too sweet, add tap water 1/2 cup at a time until desired sweetness is achieved. Serve with sugared cranberry skewers, candied blood oranges, and Frieda's sugar cane swizzle sticks, if desired.
Oh, and if you’re not already doing so, please join me in following Pick ‘n Save on their social media pages. They’ve got great recipe inspiration, and you can find card loadable coupons, printable grocery lists and printable coupons there, too.