December 2009

December 1, 2009 in 2009 by Joyce Bunderson

December: In this Issue

Special Days and Monthly Celebrations

Grandma really enjoys celebrations and special days; so each month she will share a few ideas that she thinks are interesting.

Good Health Can Be Yummy

Recipes and thoughts on making food taste good and build healthy bodies. Read more…

Pure and Simple News

Research summaries and what it could mean to us.

Making it Happen

Hints and recipes for applying nutrition to everyday life.

Special Days and Monthly Celebrations

Grandma really enjoys celebrations and special days.

December Happenings

A time for gathering and celebrating holidays past and present. Delicious holiday foods comfort and warm our bodies and spirits. Memories and traditions are often interwoven with the foods we share and enjoy with friends and family.

St. Nicholas Day – December 6th

Nicholas was a 4th century Bishop, an olden-day Jimmy Carter, giving to the poor himself and using his position of influence and his energies to encourage others to remember those in need during Christmas and throughout the year. After Nicholas’ death, others continued to give anonymous gifts and claim that it was from St. Nicholas. What a wonderful holiday, and how appropriate it is this year with so much unemployment and economic difficulty for so many.

Hanukkah – December 11th to 19th

The Dreidel game and lighting the Menorah are now warm and familiar traditions for many of us who grew up in culturally diverse cities. But beyond the Dreidel and Menorah, there are good words, if followed, could perhaps bring more peace on earth to mankind: The Hanukkah story includes the prophet Zachariah saying: “Not by might, not by power, but by My spirit.” This is a wonderful season for peace between, co-workers, friends, family and communities.
(See Latkas – “Celebrating with Color” in the Good Health Can Be Yummy section below.)

Christmas Day – December 25th

When I started to write this part of the newsletter, I thought to myself, ‘What can I possibly say about Christmas that hasn’t been said before?’ Just recently a little poem that I memorized as a child popped into my mind.
I was thinking, in all honesty about gifts that may help us to be more Christ-like; then I remembered this little poem:

“The thing that goes the farthest toward making life worth while,
That costs the least, and does the most is just a pleasant smile.
Its full of worth and goodness too, with manly kindness blent.
It’s worth a million dollars and it doesn’t cost a cent.”
Wilber Dick Nesbit (1871 – 1927 American poet)

(Want to try something new, colorful and healthy to add to your Christmas menu? See the “Making it Happen” section below for the recipe Dr. Grandma’s Orange-Buttered Broccoli.)

National Candy Cane Day – December 26th

A couple of years ago we had the pleasure of enjoying a trip through Sweden, Norway and Denmark – a few weeks of magnificent beauty, natural wonders, and history. One of our last days in Scandinavia was to Gränna, a little town in Sweden famous for Polkagris a special type of candy stick. In my memory, we learned that our Christmas candy cane tradition started there. Could my memory be influenced by the person with the Swedish last name (Bunderson – son of Bonde)? The Polkagris was invented in about 1859; which is quite a while after the curved hook candy is said to have originated in Cologne, Germany around 1670. My guess is that the little children don’t care where they started, they just want to taste them and then leave thoroughly wet ones on the carpet long enough to become welded to the yarn.

There’s something fun about candy canes besides their sweet taste – I admit it, I usually buy a package and send them home with the grandchildren on Christmas Eve. Now days they’re made in so many flavors and colors. Yes, I remember that we’re trying to be careful with the amount of sugar that we all eat – even the kids. Traditions are to be enjoyed, all we have to do is moderate the portions and introduce some enjoyable whole foods into our practices.

Universal Hour of Peace Day / World Peace Meditation Day / New Year’s Eve – December 31st

We’re saying farewell to 2009 and looking forward to good things in 2010. We have so many hopes tied up in the coming year; maybe some thoughts for peace on earth would be good to include. If the 31st is full of noise and celebrations, maybe a day or two latter would still work.

Good Health Can Be Yummy

The Winter Holidays bring thoughts of traditional celebration foods; the following recipes offer hints on making food taste good, while building healthy bodies.

Old World Gingerbread Cake

Old World Gingerbread Cake with no sugar, white flour, butter or lard.
Ginger is a traditional holiday flavor for quick breads and cookies eaten for the holidays. It doesn’t need to be a holiday for this quick bread, if you enjoy spicy gingerbread cake. The nice thing about this cake is that it’s made with whole wheat flour, olive oil, and Delight. It’s a dessert that can be shared with those who want the old-fashioned traditional flavors of the holidays, but not the processed ingredients.


1 cup Dr. Grandma’s mild extra virgin olive oil for baking
1 cup Delight zero-calorie sweetener
1 cup unsulphured molasses
1 tablespoon crystallized ginger
2 large eggs
3 1/4 cups Dr. Grandma’s whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup water
1 tablespoon baking soda


·Spray a 9 X 13 inch cake pan with vegetable spray. Preheat the oven to 325º F.
·Put the crystallized ginger in the blender for a minute.
·In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, eggs, Delight sweetener, and molasses until smooth.
·In another large bowl, whisk together the flour, ground ginger, crystallized ginger, cinnamon, salt, and cloves.
·Add the flour mixture to the molasses mixture until evenly combined.
In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil.
·Remove from the heat and stir in the baking soda. Whisk the hot water into the batter until just combined; do not over mix.
·Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake the cake in the center of the oven, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40 – 50 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack. Cut into squares and serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

Dr. Grandma’s Apple Cake

I’ve been making this moist yummy cake for about 40 years; it’s so nourishing, you can turn your back and let the kids (big and small) have this for breakfast, or any time of the day.

·Heat the following ingredients until they boil for a minute:
4 – 6 large apples (not peeled – cut into small pieces about ½ X ½ inch)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 Cups Delight or sugar
½ teaspoon cloves
½ teaspoon salt
½ Cup extra virgin olive oil
½ Cup water
¾ Cup raisins

·Remove from heat and add the following mixture (flour on the hot ingredients first):
2½ cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 Cup broken pecans or walnuts

·Mix in:
2 beaten eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

·Mix until just moist.
Bake in 9 X 13 inch greased and lightly floured pan or vegetable oil sprayed pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 35 to 45 minutes or until tap on top does not leave a dent. When the cake has completely cooled, sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Latkas – Celebrating with Color

Whether you like potato pancakes for religious celebrations or just because they’re a traditional holiday treat, this recipe will add more nutrients and flavors to enjoy.


5 cups grated unpeeled Russet potatoes
1 1/2 cups grated unpeeled zucchini
2 cups grated carrots
1 cup grated onion
½ cup eggs
1/4 cup matzah meal (or finely crushed saltine crackers)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. dried crushed or ground rosemary
Extra virgin olive oil for frying


·Shred potatoes, onions and zucchini.
·Drain in a colander for about 15 minutes, squeezing down every five minutes. Or you can put the shredded vegetables in cheesecloth or a dishtowel and wring. (I did both liquid extractions.) The shredded vegetables should be dry as possible.
·Shred carrots and add to above shredded and well-drained vegetables.
·Blend with remaining ingredients.
·Fry in a non-stick pan with enough extra virgin olive oil to lightly cover the bottom.
·Serve with applesauce or sour cream.
(Hint: I use waxed paper under the grater; it makes an easier clean up. I grated by hand because I wanted a finer grate than the food processor. I had some grated vegetables left over; put them in a zip lock and labeled “for soup.”)

*Makes about 18 Latkas.

Pure and Simple News

News that supports your goal of consuming a healthier diet.

The holidays are often filled with offers of calories that you can drink. The following two bits of advice may help you recognize that you can be healthier during the holidays, with a heightened awareness about drinking your calories.

Food and Drinks Sweetened with Fructose Could Increase the Risk of High Blood Pressure

New research that was presented at the American Society of Nephrology’s Annual Meeting in San Diego, during the end of October 2009, gives us another good reason to slow down or stop eating/drinking fructose sweetened foods/drinks.

The researchers, led by Diana Jalal at the University of Denver Colorado’s Health Sciences Center looked at fructose consumption and compared it to blood pressure levels of 4,528 adults.

The researchers found that people who consumed more than 74 grams (approximately 2 ½ High Fructose Corn Syrup sweetened drinks) of fructose per day had a significantly increased risk of developing high blood pressure.

The lead researcher said that fructose has been implicated as an indicator of disease; that it’s harmful, but they don’t know the extent it is responsible for obesity, diabetes and other problems like hypertension.

Juice Is Not a Freebee Health Food

It seems that it’s common knowledge that when a diabetic’s blood sugar drops (because they took their insulin, but forgot to eat), that a glass of juice is a great way to rapidly raise their blood sugar from being too low. It doesn’t seem to be common knowledge, however, that all of us sharply raise our blood sugar when we drink juice.

In addition, juice is a very easy way to take lots of calories in a short period of time; there have been several studies that show that satisfying the hunger mechanism is not triggered by liquid calories.

Many people including moms think of juice as a health food; but to some of us, we think of it like soda pop with some nutrients. I gave up drinking juice many decades ago, when I started studying public health nutrition. It just made sense that eating a piece of fruit, with all the fiber and nutrients, would nourish and fill me better than consuming three or more times the calories in a glass of juice, that would spike my blood sugar.

Dr. Charles Billington, an appetite researcher at the University of Minnesota says, “there’s no need for any juice at all.” Ounce per ounce, juice contains more calories than soda. Orange juice has 112 calories per cup and grape juice has 152; Coke and Pepsi have about 100 per cup (that’s 2/3s of a 12oz. can).

This is yet another food problem that goes back to a surplus of a commodity. In the early 1900s citrus growers in Florida were harvesting more oranges than they could sell. They discovered that a person could consume more oranges if they drank them, than if they ate them whole. (Read Alissa Hamilton’s book Squeezed: What You Don’t Know About Orange Juice.) After the war, scientists invented systems for pasteurization and freezing in a concentrated form. Voila…the beginning of Tropicana and Minute Maid! So you see, drinking juice is a relatively new behavior for humans.

There are studies that have shown that children that drank at least 12 ounces of juice per day were 3 ½ times more likely than other kids to exceed the 90th percentile for body mass index, qualifying them as overweight or obese.

Whether it’s you, your loved ones, friends or your kids, take notice: Eating an apple or orange is not the same as drinking a glass of juice. How about some water to go with your apple?

Making it Happen

Hints and recipes for applying nutrition to everyday life.

Dr. Grandma’s Orange-Buttered Broccoli

This vegetable dish is so festive it can be used for dinner parties all year long; it is, however, a tradition for our Christmas dinner.


1 lb. Broccoli
1 large sweet red pepper, cut into thin strips
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon orange juice concentrate
4 Tablespoons pine nuts
2 medium oranges, sliced (I cut them in half before slicing.)


  • Cut broccoli lengthwise into uniform spears.
  • In an 8x8x2-inch microwave-safe baking dish arrange broccoli, red pepper, and 2 tablespoons water. Cover with vented clear plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 6 to 8 minutes or till broccoli is crisp-tender, rearranging once.
  • Orange Butter: In a 1-cup microwaveable dish, heat 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon orange juice concentrate, uncovered, on high for 50 to 60 seconds or till butter is melted.
  • Drain brocoli mixture. Arrange broccoli/pepper mixture on a serving platter. Drizzle Orange Butter over broccoli mixture. Sprinkle with pine nuts. Arrange sliced oranges around the sides – sliding slightly under the broccoli