(10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare)
By Lisa Messinger
Food and Cooking at Creators Syndicate
What spruces up your Labor Day party in split seconds? Skewers. Whether with cooked or raw ingredients (check out the suggested selections that follow), or using wooden or metal sticks, they make the perfect presenter for splashy, healthful - and economical
- summer ingredients. They can satisfy appetites for everything from brunch, to appetizers, to dinner, and even dessert.
Fun fare like this is proof that meal preparation can be easy, nutritious, inexpensive, fun - and fast. They take just 10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare.
The dishes are delicious evidence that everyone has time for tasty home cooking and, more importantly, the healthy family time around the kitchen table 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" at the family dinner table.Here are some suggested combinations for you to skewer. Do not heat any of them in a microwave oven because of the metal or wooden skewers.Brunch Buffet on a Stick
Prepare whole-grain toaster waffles according to package instructions, let cool, and cut into bite-sized squares. Skewer, alternating with bite-sized pieces of cooked turkey sausage, and cooked tater tots or chunks of cooked home-fried potatoes. Wrap in aluminum foil and heat on low in oven until hot. Serve with sugar-free maple syrup for dipping."Shrimpy" Appetizers That Are Large Temptations
Alternate cooked shrimp with pineapple chunks, slices of banana (that have been sprinkled with lemon juice to avoid browning), and red bell pepper squares. Chill covered. Serve with orange marmalade, thinned slightly with some juice of a fresh orange for dipping.Puncture Pork with Your Skewer
Alternate chunks of your favorite lean pork cut with chunks of red and green apples and red and white onions, and then squares of rye bread in the furthest spot on the skewer from the pork. Grill or cook in oven until pork is cooked thoroughly (the USDA recommends a minimum internal temperature of 145 °F). Serve with a dipping sauce prepared from sugar-free applesauce combined with chopped fresh mint and curry powder.Invite Angels for Dessert
Alternate chunks of store-bought or homemade angel food cake or sponge cake (though tasty, both are defined by the fact that they have no fat) with red seedless grapes, mini marshmallows (which are also fat free), and raspberries. Serve with sugar-free chocolate syrup for dipping.QUICK TIP OF THE WEEK
: Granita is a quick way to make a delicious, economical and fresh produce-based ice cream-like dessert if you don't have an ice cream maker. Granita is the Italian word for "fruit ice." Often, the dessert uses only nutritious fruit, water and sugar (though some sugar substitutes, like the natural stevia, work well, too). Just blend about three parts peeled, seedless fruit (or a mixture, like watermelon and lime, or cantaloupe and strawberries) to one part each water and sugar. Freeze, scraping after about 30 minutes. Freeze again until it is about three-quarters frozen, then scrape again and enjoy.
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 DrLaura.com.