Sensible foods for January

A number of foods have January designated as “their” national month. Other foods have a National Day in January.

I’m avoiding the days for cream puffs, blonde brownies, chocolate cake, croissant, whipped cream and so it goes.

Hey, it’s January. We’re making efforts toward healthy eating and exercise

So we’ll also forget that January is National Candy Month ... who came up with that between Christmas in December and Valentine’s Day in February?

But now let’s move on to the sensible/delicious foods for January.

It’s National Prune Breakfast Month.

Prunes/dried plums are the subject of funny comments, but you won’t laugh when you learn they are among the fruits often found on “super foods” lists because of their phytochemicals that make a key contribution to health. Prunes are good source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and let us not forget their fiber content. Those 4–5 prunes in a serving pack a wallop of nutritional value and can play a role in blood sugar control, heart health, digestion and much more.

As I was shopping the other day, a tall, square, plastic, colorful container caught my eye: “Sunsweet plum Amazins.” They are diced dried plums (prunes), perfect for adding to all kind of dishes, such as the bowl of the oatmeal you should eat to celebrate National Oatmeal Month.

Yes, it’s time to know your oats.

We’ve heard so many good things about oats in relation to heart health, weight control, fiber content and more. You’ve no doubt got a round box of instant, quick or old fashioned rolled oats in your pantry.

Many of you, as have I, enjoy the chewy, delicious texture of steel cut oats. They are whole grain groats (inner portion of oat kernels) cut by steel into a few pieces unlike the usual rolled oats.

I also have discovered a slightly different form of steel cut oats called “Coach’s Oats” patented as “Cracked n’ Toasted Oats” ( They have a little different texture and cook in five minutes versus the 30 minutes it can take to cook regular steel cut oats.

I had some “Coach’s Oats” over the holidays and came home with a bag. I’m now looking for local sources.

January also is National Egg, Meat, Hot Tea, Soup and Wheat Bread Month.

I can’t address all of January’s foods, but I did celebrate “International Hot and Spicy Food Day” Jan. 9 by coming up with a new twist on a chicken mole recipe.

Until February, enjoy!

Julie/Dixie Spicy Crock-Pot Chicken Mole with a Touch of Pumpkin

This will warm you up Make as mild/ hot as you like.

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 cup chopped tomatoes in puree

1 1/2 cup medium, red enchilada sauce

3/4 cup canned pumpkin

1 1/4 cup chicken broth

1 large or 2 medium-sized ancho chilis, soaked for few minutes, seeded and cut into strips

1 ounce square semi-sweet chocolate, shaved

2 cloves garlic, slivered

1/2 teaspoon oregano

A pinch of salt

Optional: 1 tablespoon diced prunes

Corn or flour tortillas

Garnishes: sour cream, shredded lettuce, fresh lime wedges and/or sliced green onions

This recipe was originally baked, but I tried it twice in the Crock-Pot, and we loved it. If the chicken breasts are large, cut them in half and place them in bottom of Crock-Pot.

Mix pumpkin, enchilada sauce, tomatoes and diced prunes and pour over chicken. Add garlic, oregano, touch of salt and chocolate on top of that. Pour broth around chicken.

Cook on high for 30 minutes, then turn to low and cook until chicken is tender.

Remove chicken, pull it apart. The chicken can be mixed in with sauce, or you can use the sauce to top the chicken. Serve in warmed corn tortilla shells or flour tortillas. Garnish.

Note: This freezes well.


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