Friday, January 16, 2009

Eating Well in the Good Ol' Summertime

Just about anyone could eat more fruits and veggies, and summertime is a great time to enjoy more of them. But you don't want to purchase a lot, and then have to throw it away because they haven't been eaten. That's definitely a waste of money and nutrition.

According to the Produce for Better Health Foundation:

  • Fewer than 15% of school-aged children eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables needed every day.Over half of all elementary school-aged children eat no fruit on any given day.
  • Three out of 10 elementary school-aged children eat less than one serving of vegetables a day.
  • One-quarter of all vegetables eaten by school aged students are french fries.

What's a mother to do?

The amounts recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans is - younger children should eat atleast 1.5 cups each of fruits and vegetables every day. Older, and more active children should be eating up to two cups of fruit and 3.5 cups of vegetables each day. (Amounts are based on recommended calorie intakes for sex, age, and activity level: Check out to find out the amounts you and your children should be aiming for.

Here's some ideas to help you get your kids steered in the right direction when it comes to consuming enough of these nutritious foods....

  • Take your children to the grocery store or open air market and let them choose a fruit or vegetable they like or would like to try.

  • How about giving them each $5 and letting them do shopping on their own - not allowing bread or candy to be among their purchases.

  • Add berries to their cereal; shredded lettuce and sliced tomatoes to their sandwiches; finely chopped carrots or broccoli added to soups, or other dishes, will give them the nutrition they need, without them even realizing it.

  • Encourage fruits and vegetables as snacks. Serve fruit as a dessert, and keep a dish of fruit visible to your family. They will be more likely to eat more without thinking about getting something sweet instead.

  • Give them fresh baby carrots and/or celery for snacking, along with their own little cup of ranch dressing for dip.
Apple Smiles

Here's a fun thing I did for my kids when they were growing up and have done it for my grandchildren as well. If you can make eating 'fun', you're more likely they will eat more nutritionally without a fight.

Take a red apple and cut it in half - core it, and slice it into 8 or 10 make 'lips'. Spread one side of two apple slices, with peanut butter, lay mini marshmallows on top to make 'teeth' and put the other apple slice on top. I can just about guarantee you'll make them smile as well - and that will be good for mom too.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Order a Copy of My Cookbook!

How to Order 
Recipes & Recollections from The Better Baker

Pay Pal

To use a credit or debit card, send payment to my email address
( ). Then don't forget to email your
mailing address to me and let me know how many books you'd like.
I'd love to personalize each one with your name(s).

Order By Mail

To order my cookbook by mail, please send a check to:

Marsha Baker
PO Box 938
Pioneer, OH 43554


Cookbooks are $15 plus $4 shipping for each. 
(Ohio residents add $1.05 for tax.)

If you don’t know me personally, I prefer that you pay through Pay Pal.  
Contact me for another payment option if necessary.

Leader Enterprise - August 2009

Cancer. Too many of us are more familiar with it than we care to be, either directly or indirectly.

August 30,2008 was a life changing day for our family. Our then-three year old grandson, Caden, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. It was a shock to all of us. His mom had taken him to the dr. for another health issue and the doctor decided to run bloodwork. Caden was admitted to St. Vincent’s Children’s hospital in Toledo that afternoon and his first round of chemo began the next day. (Thank the good Lord for great doctors like Dr. Bell!)

There are so many good folks in the world, and the support systems that our son, Dave, and wife, Lyn, and family have encountered along the way are worth bragging about. They play a huge role in helping Dave’s family maintain some sanity on this crazy ‘journey’ on life's road.

We learned early-on about the (free) Caring Bridge website. Caden has his own page-- his parents can post pictures & updates. Subscribers can get an email every time there is new info which saves tireless hours of trying to communicate with friends and family.

A family from our area, who had just finished treatment for their own child with leukemia, visited Dave & Lyn in the hospital the first week Caden was there. Along with offering support and encouragement,they also told them about Angel Hugs.

Dave signed Caden up to be a member of that program. These ‘angels’ have given much encouragement on many occasions. Volunteers send cards, packages, and gifts - just to bring smiles to many needy families going through this tumultuous time.

Another wonderful program is Chemo Angels. Two ‘angels’ are assigned to the patient,and send cards and care packages to keep spirits up.

One of Caden's "angels" is an actress. She sent Caden a Toy Story movie poster with a hand written note that reads "Howdy Caden! Much love,Tom Hanks." For his June birthday, Caden received a CD with his favorite cartoon character- Spongebob Squarepants- repeating Caden’s name, wishing him a happy day. What special RAINBOWS in the storms of life!

SuperSibs is a program for the siblings of the patient() that helps include them in the whole recovery process. Even though much attention is put on Caden, members of "SS" remind Caden's big sisters - Charlie, 10 and Chloe, 8 - that they are still very important people too.The girls have received trophies for being such great supporters of their little brother, personalized pillow cases and books with the theme of being a sibling to someone who has a serious illness (happy endings of course).

The family has also received support from the county Cancer Assistance Agency. They provide assistance with medical bills, prescriptions, travel costs and have resources and referrals for many other places and people that individuals with cancer needs.

Two of Dave’s aunts, Carol and Vicki, outdid themselves last fall by holding a benefit for Caden. They are planning another at the end of Sept in Pioneer. What great blessings!

Last, but hardly least, our church- Hillsdale Baptist -has shown much support for Dave and family, not only financially, but have been a great encouragement with cards and prayers and gifts. They showered Caden with many gifts for his recent birthday, and included family members as well.

These words have been spoken by pastor Rick Warren and I think we can say we experience the truths expressed here...
"At all times you have something good and something bad in your life. No matter how good things are, there is always something bad that needs to be worked on. And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always something good you can thank God for."

At this point in time, Caden has had more spinal taps, chemo and bloodwork than you can imagine. He’s had a great summer, laughing and playing, and even learning to swim at home. He’s even grown a full head of hair again, but is getting ready to begin a stronger round of chemo, (hopefully his last) so may be bald again before long. He has physical therapy two times a week, and has a good prognosis - we’ve learned to take life one day at a time. After a year of aggressive treatment, we look forward to a slower pace-once-a-month treatment,for up to 3 years. We appreciate your thoughts and prayers for Caden and our family during these up and down days.

Caden’s picture was on the front page of the Toledo Blade last Thursday,August 13th,as he was being read to, while at the hospital for treatment. Another special and enjoyable ‘pit stop’ on this race called life.

Since it’s the time of year when many gardens are proliferating zucchini to enjoy, I wanted to share a favorite recipe.It was tough to choose which one, so I plan to share another next month.


4 cups peeled, diced zucchini
1 grated carrot
1 grated onion
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
1 box stove top stuffing
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Boil zucchini in salted water for 4 minutes and drain. Add remaining ingredients and mix together in large bowl. Place in greased 8" X 8" casserole dish. Top with 1 cup crushed corn flakes mixed with 1/4 cup melted margarine or butter. Bake 45 minutes uncovered.

For variety,use your favorite zucchini bread recipe, and substitute ½ cup of baking cocoa to replace an equal amount of flour,and enjoy chocolate zucchini bread.
Quote for the Day:We make a living by what we get.We make a life by what we give.-Winston Churchill

Leader Enterprise - September 2009 - Handwritten notes

Do you enjoy receiving cards in the mail? I sure do. It’s a big reason why I love sending them too. Those’ little’ things can make a big difference in someone’s life.

I know, because they have in mine.

I mail 50-70 cards each month, so I think it’s safe to say I have a passion for doing so. It doesn’t take a lot of time invested to brighten someone’s day.

In this day and age when written communication, other than email, is almost nil, a short message of hope can be a ray of sunshine in a dark world when someone is struggling. Writing a card is one small way to encourage one another.

Among the best things about a hand written note is that it means so much to see the personal touch that comes with seeing someone’s handwriting. A card can stand on your counter or table to be reviewed again and again. The few minutes taken to add your own words can mean so much.

If you are one who doesn’t know what to say, simply tell the recipient that you are thinking of them, are there for them, and that you’re sorry for...whatever the situation. Keep your message simple and remember that anything from the heart will be meaningful and beautiful.

A book "When You Need the Right Words" published by New Seasons is available from Current catalog or online at It has many ideas for any occasion to help express what you’re feeling in your heart.

I realize these are times of economic crisis, but you really don’t have to spend a lot of money to let someone know you care about them. And you don’t have to have a special gift to reach out to someone at any point in time.Trust me-the reward you receive for thinking of someone else, is worth far more than the money you spend to make it happen.

One of the nicest cards I’ve ever received was a plain white postcard, but the words my friend expressed in that little note,spoke highly of who I am,and stirred my soul deeply. It is kept in a dresser drawer with many other keepsake cards I’ve received. When I’m having a down day, I pull those old cards out and am uplifted. How rich we can feel to be reminded there are those who care about us. A quote I appreciate reads "Never miss an opportunity to give sunshine to the day of someone who needs a few encouraging words."

Hallmark has a line of greeting cards for 99 cents each and the dollar stores have lovely cards also. Walgreen’s carries boxed cards for $1 each. I am a member of American greetings online, and for a minimal fee every year, I can print all the cards and projects I want. What a bargain!

Years ago, I read about two friends who lived across town from each other, and how their busy lives kept them from getting together. They determined to begin the ‘ministry of the postcard’ and made time to send a written note to one another each month. What a difference they made in each other’s world.

Tuck little ‘surprises’ inside a card....a bookmark, a tea bag, or a paper sachet. Those small items seldom need additional postage, but be sure to check with the post office when sending anything bulky. It’s always a thrill to receive pictures also. You can purchase little "Pass it On" cards,with a simple thought or scripture on them. Hallmark has tear-off post-it notes in tablet form with quips and quotes to uplift and encourage.

Five minutes, a first-class stamp, (or 28-cent post card stamp) and your personal note can bless someone with a brighter,r icher day. Pick up your pen and begin now in the ‘write’ direction.

A friend recently asked me my favorite kind of recipes. Without having to ponder, I said "Desserts!" Then quickly added that my second favorite is vegetable dishes. Because many of us have canned or frozen veggies from our gardens this summer, I wanted to share some of my favorites this month. These will be in my own cookbook, which I hope to have published and in my hands by next fall.

This first one is a new one for me and I loved it from the first bite-hope you enjoy it too. Green beans may be substituted for the asparagus if you prefer.


1 lb. Fresh asparagus spears
1 cup frozen corn
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. Honey
1/4 tsp. Pepper

Snap off tough ends of asparagus; discard. Cut spears into 1-inch pieces.

In 2-quart saucepan, heat ½ cup water to boiling. Add asparagus and corn; reduce heat. Simmer uncovered 5 to 8 minutes or until asparagus is crisp tender;drain. In small bowl, mix mustard, honey and pepper. Stir into hot vegetables and serve.


2 - 1# bags frozen corn or 5 - 6 cups fresh frozen
12 ozs. block cream cheese,cut into cubes
2/3 cup milk
½ cup butter or margarine,melted
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Spread corn over bottom of 3-4 qt. slow cooker.Top with cream cheese cubes. In small bowl, stir together remaining ingredients; pour over corn and cream cheese. Cover; cook on high setting for 2-3 hours. Stir well before serving. Corn will hold on low heat up to 2 hours,stirring occasionally.


4 c. sliced zucchini
1 medium onion, chopped
3 T. Butter
1 cup water
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup milk
1 cup half and half
1 tsp. Basil
salt and pepper to taste

In large saucepan,saute onion in butter for several minutes. Add zucchini and water. Simmer about 25-30 minutes. Remove from heat and whir in blender (Be cautious-I suggest letting it cool 10 minutes first-it will be very hot). Return to saucepan. Stir in soup til smooth, then add milk, half and half, and seasonings. Heat to simmering. Makes 4 servings.

Leader Enterprise - October 2009 - Healthier Substitutes for Cooking

I love fall and the refreshment that it brings with the cooler, crisper mornings and evenings. God’s artwork is on display as He paints autumn’s beauty in colorful canvases for us to enjoy. I’m reminded that I’m in the ‘fall’ of my life, and need to make the most of every day, because as they say "Life is like a roll of toilet paper - the closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes."

Hopefully by now families have a new routine with school and the homework that comes with it. When my hubby was in the Air Force,we lived in Alaska for 8 years in the late ‘70's and early 80's. Folks there always tease that fall lasts only one day and without a doubt, winters hit with an ‘excess’ of darkness. Our kids went to school in the dark and came home in the dark. That’s something to think about, huh?

I love walking into a warm house after being out in the cooler temperatures. I love the splashes of orange pumpkins and leaves in my fall decorations throughout our home. If you’re like me - autumn is a good ‘excuse’ for me to do more baking - to heat up the house and warm my body and soul.

It’s easy to prepare calorie-laden, fat-filled dishes using traditional recipes, but I wanted to share some ideas for doing more nutritional baking.

Applesauce can often replace the butter or oil used in many recipes. Little to no fat, low sugar options are available. I usually use 1/2 the amount of oil called for and replace the other half with applesauce. Coconut oil is a nutritionally rich fat which can also be used for part or all of the butter or shortening in a recipe. Flaxseed meal offers fiber and vitamins & minerals. Adding ground flaxseed -1 Tbsp in the place of 1 Tbsp of flour can lend a nuttier flavor to your product. My favorite way to use Flaxseed meal though, is to REPLACE the eggs called for in a recipe! For each egg use 1 Tbsp Flaxseed meal + 3Tbsp water. By doing this,cholesterol and fat are reduced and the final product is more moist and nutritional.

This is a great time of the year to make soup. It’s easy and nutritious too.You can use some of those vegetables that you’ve stored up over the summertime. Using whole grain pastas and fiber rich beans offer lower fat and healthier options. A sandwich or muffin served with soup makes for a good warm-you-up meal.

I want to share my favorite soup recipe. It’s comfort food and I usually have all the ingredients on hand. It has also been published in the American Profile "Blue Ribbon Winners" cookbook.


3 cups chicken broth
2 cups diced, peeled potatoes
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
½ (one half - for editor) cup diced onion
1-1/2 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Pepper
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/3 cup all purpose flour
2 cups milk
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups diced cooked chicken

In a large pan bring chicken broth to a boil. Reduce heat. Add potatoes, carrots, celery, onion, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Melt butter in a medium saucepan. Add flour and mix well. Gradually stir in milk and cook over low heat until slightly thickened. Stir in cheese and cook until melted. Add to broth and vegetables along with chicken. Cook and stir over low heat until heated through.

Sometimes I use frozen hash browns and mixed vegetables instead of doing all the chopping. We also prefer Velveeta cheese - a little less than the suggested amount of cheddar. Enjoy!!

It’s the time of year for harvesting apples. A gala apple is one of my absolute favorites for fresh eating. It is heart-shaped with a distinctive yellow-orange skin with red striping. Galas are just the right size for snacking and are great in salads, good for baking and very good for applesauce.

A wonderful new apple dessert I recently tried, has become a real hit. I’ve already shared the recipe with many. Hope you’ll give it a try too. It can easily be doubled to be baked in a 9x13 pan for more servings. I have used fuji or gala apples. Any baking apple will work well. Jonagolds are good for eating fresh or for baking too.


1-1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. Baking powder
½ (one half) tsp. Baking soda
½ (one half) tsp. Salt
½ (one half) tsp. Ground cinnamon
1 cup sugar
½ (one half) cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups chopped, peeled (tart) apples
½ (one half) cup chopped pecans
½ (one half) cup butterscotch chips, divided

In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Combine the sugar, oil and eggs; stir into dry ingredients just until combined. Stir in the apples, pecans and 1/4 cup butterscotch chips. Pour into a greased 8-inch square baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining butterscotch chips. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Yield:4-6 large servings.

A friend who recently made it commented that she thought it was only 2 servings - she couldn’t stop eating it once she started.

Stroll through an apple orchard or go to the park and enjoy walking in the crisp fallen leaves,and soak in the changing colors. We all know it won’t be long and winter will be upon us. As an 80-something friend once said to me-’Do what you can while you can’.

Leader Enterprise - November 2009

It's that time of year when we stop and think about our abundant blessings and spend more time pondering our ‘attitude of gratitude’. People who are grateful are happy people. Learning to be thankful reduces stress and helps you to be less susceptible to illness.

Robert Louis Stevenson once stated, "The person who has stopped being thankful has fallen asleep in life." Have you stopped to count your many blessings today?

Think of some reasons to be thankful. If the only prayer you said your whole life was ‘thank you’ it would suffice. 'We often take for granted the very things that deserve our most gratitude'.

I’m hitting the big "6-0" this week and I’m excited about it. I am in agreement with Mark Twain, who once said "Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter". We can’t avoid birthdays, but they’re much better than the only other alternative. I’m planning a trip to the Caribbean in February and I’m taking along 4 girlfriends to enjoy a belated celebration. (After serving 3 tours in Vietnam, my hubby refuses to leave the good ole USA.)

I think we all need that special something to hope for. I recently read about an idea that we should use up each day,fill it to overflowing with good,and deliberately set out to enjoy life. It’s kinda like being inspired to have a ‘twinkle in our wrinkle.’ . Abraham Lincoln once said "It’s not the years in your life that count, it’s the life in your years."

Our family is extra grateful this year for the many folks who have encouraged us along life’s journey with our grandson, Caden, who has leukemia. And we are still surprised by sweet gestures of care. The new Four Seasons Restaurant at Exit 2 will be open and serving holiday dinners on Thanksgiving Day, with all proceeds going to Caden and his family. It certainly makes us feel blessed beyond measure.

I’m excited to share some yummy recipes for you to try.

This pumpkin dip is easy to make and keeps well up to 2 weeks. It’s great for dipping gingersnaps, graham crackers or apple slices in. You can use reduced fat, or even fat free cream cheese, but I suggest not using fat free when you’re baking. It contains more water than regular, and you may end up with a runny or ruined dish. It shouldn’t be beaten well either - I suggest using a whisk when using fat free cream cheese.


1-8 oz. Pkg. Cream cheese, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1-15 oz. Can solid pack pumpkin
1 Tbsp. Ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp. Pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. Frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed

In medium bowl, blend cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth. Gradually mix in the pumpkin. Stir in the cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and orange juice concentrate until smooth and well blended. Allow to blend at least an hour before serving.

This is a favorite cranberry salad. The topping is optional. It’s delicious without, but adds a special and yummy touch. I use sugar free jello.


2-4-serving boxes cherry jello
2 cups boiling water
1-15 oz. can whole cranberry sauce
½ (one half) cup crushed pineapple, drained
½ cup finely chopped celery
½ cup chopped nuts

Dissolve jello in hot water, add cranberry sauce and stir until mixed well. Cool to room temperature before adding pineapple, celery and nuts. Pour into a 2-qt. oblong dish - chill until set; cut into squares to serve.

Topping: (optional) Combine 1-8 oz. block of cream cheese, softened, with 2 Tbsp. mayonnaise. Blend in remaining pineapple juice (1-2 Tbsp.) and spread over top after the jello is set. Sprinkle with nuts if desired.

Since my SugarFull hubby eats SugarFree, I’m sharing this delicious recipe that I make for him all year long, and always for the holidays.

Crustless Sugar Free Pumpkin Pie

1-15 oz.can solid pumpkin
1-12 oz.can evaporated skim milk
2 eggs (or equivalent in egg substitute)
2 egg whites
1 cup Splenda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/8 tsp. Salt
½ cup (reduced-fat) graham cracker crumbs
Lite Whipped topping

In a mixing bowl, combine the pumpkin, milk, eggs, egg whites, and sweetener; beat until smooth. Add the spices and salt; beat until well mixed. Stir in graham cracker crumbs. Pour into a 9-in. pie plate that has been coated with nonstick cooking spray. Bake at 325 for 50-55 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool. If desired, garnish with a dollop of whipped topping and sprinkling of cinnamon. Store in the refrigerator. Yield: 8 servings - 116 calories each (without topping).

Did you know you can bake squash whole in the microwave? It’s the only way I prepare it. Wash it, poke a knife in it several times to let the steam escape,place it on a microwavable plate and set the timer for about 10 minutes. Depending on the size of your squash, it can take up to 10-15 minutes more, but check it every 3 or 4 minutes. I let it stand for about 10 minutes to finish cooking through, then cut it open and let cool.Scoop out the seeds, and scrape out the pulp. It mashes easily - this is much easier than trying to peel it.

You can find my ‘famous’ Butternut Squash Bake recipe online at www.americanprofile/recipes-type in the name of the recipe at the search engine and you’ll have it.

Enjoy a blessed, beautiful and grateful Thanksgiving season.