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10-Second Recipes: Perfect for Valentine's Day - Write Your Culinary Acceptance Speech
(10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare)

By Lisa Messinger
Food and Cooking at Creators Syndicate

With the Oscars coming up, thoughts turn to grateful acceptance speeches. But such loving accolades also happen to be a perfect - and economical - addition to Valentine's Day. If you were to win a culinary statuette, whom would you tearfully thank?

Would it be your loving spouse, who is always willing to taste a new, sometimes highly experimental dish?  Or perhaps your grandma, who gave you your first cooking lesson when you were a tot, the banquet chef at your wedding or maybe just portly old Chef Boyardee, whose empty cans may have littered the kitchen of your first apartment.

Besides being a fun food-themed game, writing such a culinary acceptance speech - or just standing up at the dinner table and giving one, and having family members do the same - can be an activity linked not only to blowing kisses for Valentine's Day or commemorating the Oscars, but to good emotional health. Psychologists and medical researchers tell us that gratitude in any form, given every day silently or vocalized, and reflected upon, is a powerful tool toward a healthy and happy life.

I recently gave it some thought. Perhaps my list of loving thank-you notes will inspire some of your own. Serve up the thoughtfulness with affectionate recipes that match the theme.

Bobby Flay. A shout out goes to the Food Network star, restaurateur and best-selling cookbook author for being the New York-accented role model to get my city slicker husband to start a conversation about a kitchen appliance.

"Hey, do you think a Belgian waffle maker would be difficult to use?" he asked me in the first-ever cooking conversation in our 30-year relationship after happening to catch "guy's guy" Flay on a television episode.

Flay was preparing a "Chef on a Shoestring" recipe, but that was only part of what caught my husband's attention. What especially drew him in were the fluffy pastries and special whipped cream, a Flay coconut-infused treat based on my husband's favorite piece of produce.

"I'm going to whip you up some waffles with that coconut whipped cream," he cooed, motivated for the first time to cook for me.

I immediately bought him a Belgian waffle maker and he became quickly flour-stained and even more romantic than usual. There's also a meatloaf with my name on it promised soon from the newly minted Flay-inspired chef in my home.

Dish matching the speech: Whole-wheat Belgian waffles made according to manufacturer's instructions or whole-wheat or oat pancakes made stove top. Served with a dash of sweetened flaked coconut folded into whipped cream.

Speaking of my husband, in addition to thanking Chef Bobby Flay, I would also like to thank him for his unflagging support. He's continually helpful in my trying to eat nutritiously. Usually, after trips to the supermarket, his arms are full of the low-carb yogurts, fruits and vegetables that sustain me - and he lovingly and proudly brags that he knows all my favorites.

On my request, he doesn't keep brownies, chocolate chip cookies and other treats that would draw my attention in the house. The gratitude hit me even harder when I realized not all waist watchers have it so cushy. I read in an entertainment magazine article about stars that go off their diets, or even prescribed diet medications, when their spouses or family members regularly whip up foods that tempt them.

Dish matching speech: Layers of vanilla-flavored low-carb and/or low-fat yogurt interspersed with fresh produce layer, including finely grated carrots, unpeeled apple and unpeeled pear chunks, julienned peeled cucumber, dash of orange juice and shavings of fresh or crystallized ginger.

There are many new whole-grains and dark chocolates (labeled 60 percent cacao or higher) that now fill shelves in mainstream supermarkets. In increasing numbers of major studies showed these products to be excellent for our health, but didn't populate markets yet. In one week recently, top manufacturers introduced five-grain crackers and extra dark chocolate filled with with pomegranate pieces. Most of the new offerings are delicious and nutritious.

Dish matching speech: Break multi-grain crackers into bite-sized pieces and combine with bite-sized pieces of fruit-infused dark chocolate (preferably labeled 60 percent cacao or higher, which have been shown to be loaded with antioxidants), dried cranberries or raisins and raw almonds.

Mocha Almond Blended Latte. Thanked for being a favorite easy, nutritious beverage in a featured role. No matter what the proportions, turns out tasty, energizing and light.  Why sip only mocha when you can enjoy the flavor of almond blended in, too? A perfect beverage, too, to serve to your sweetie for Valentine's Day dessert.

Dish matching speech: In a blender, mix to taste regular or decaf instant coffee crystals, unsweetened cocoa powder, unsweetened  almond milk, raw almonds (which will become pulverized), almond extract, chocolate or vanilla whey protein powder, all-natural no-calorie sweetener, like stevia, and ice, until smooth and creamy.

Fun fare and projects like these also prove food preparation can be easy, nutritious, economical - and fast. They take just 10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare. The creative combinations are delicious proof that everyone has time for tasty home cooking and, more importantly, the healthy family togetherness that goes along with it!

Another benefit: You effortlessly become a better cook, since there are no right or wrong amounts. These are virtually-can't-go-wrong combinations, so whatever you - or your kidlet helpers - choose to use can't help but draw wows from everyone.

QUICK TIP OF THE WEEK: "Everything bagels" have become popular recently in bagel shops and in packs sold in supermarkets. There's no mystery, though, to their tasty (and healthful) ingredients, and you easily can stir up a spice blend at home that you can sprinkle over plain bagels, bread or in dishes, like soups, over vegetables or as a rub over poultry or meat. Keep in the refrigerator, tightly covered, for up to a week a mix, to taste, of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, optional salt (preferably sea salt) or salt substitute, caraway seeds, onion flakes and preferably granulated onion and garlic (or onion and garlic powder as a secondary choice instead of the flakes and granules).

Lisa Messinger 
is a first-place winner in food and nutrition writing from the Association of Food Journalists and the National Council Against Health Fraud and author of seven food books, including the best-selling The Tofu Book: The New American Cuisine with 150 Recipes (Avery/Penguin Putnam) and Turn Your Supermarket into a Health Food Store: The Brand-Name Guide to Shopping for a Better Diet (Pharos/Scripps Howard). She writes two nationally syndicated food and nutrition columns for Creators Syndicate and had been a longtime newspaper food and health section managing editor, as well as managing editor of Gayot/Gault Millau dining review company. Lisa traveled the globe writing about top chefs for Pulitzer Prize-winning Copley News Service and has written about health and nutrition for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Reader's Digest, Woman's World and Prevention Magazine Health Books. Permission granted for use on

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