(10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare)
By Lisa Messinger
Food and Cooking at Creators Syndicate
Sometimes seasonal specialties are saved for noteworthy occasions, like hearty dinners or festive suppers that entertain a crowd of friends and family. You deserve the treats, which can be fresh or products associated with this type of year, at every meal. When they are strategically used, they take just seconds and are among the most economical choices you can make since they are abundant and, therefore, often reflect seasonal discounts. Fresh apples and pears, for instance, punch up a warm breakfast chutney that deliciously drapes multigrain pancakes, waffles or toast. Carrots, parsnips, barley and fresh ginger contribute to a lovely lunchtime soup. Barley, seasonal vegetables and spices are all it takes to turn hamburger patties into a more healthful and flavorful dinner.
Food preparation at any time of year can be easy, nutritious, inexpensive, fun - and fast - as the following split-second sensations prove. 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 both family and guests.
To a blender container add pomegranate juice, soft or firm tofu, ground ginger, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, a no-calorie natural sweetener, like stevia, ripe unpeeled pear slices and ice and blend until smooth.
A Chutney that Really Clicks
To cranberry or raspberry jam, add chunks of unpeeled apple and quince or pear, strained golden raisins that you've soaked in the refrigerator in water overnight for plumping and ground allspice, boil briefly, and use instead of syrup on multigrain pancakes, waffles, French toast or instead of jam on multigrain English muffins or toast.
Wild About Carrot-Parsnip Wild Rice Soup
Steam carrots and parsnips, carefully slice and add to a soup pot of low-sodium vegetable broth along with wild rice, thin slices of fresh ginger, freshly ground black pepper and a cinnamon stick and vanilla bean you'll remove with a utensil before stirring well and serving.
One Vibrant Vegetable Melt
In a broiler, toast one side of multigrain bread and carefully remove from oven. Top with peach jam and slices of celery root, curley endive, mushrooms, fennel, figs, pumpkin seeds and pepperjack cheese and broil until cheese is bubbling and melted, while being careful not to burn bread.
Purchase a no-sugar-added, whole-grain cereal that reflects the season by being flavored, for example, with cinnamon and dried cranberries. Crush it in a strong plastic bag with a rolling pin, dip thin slices of cooked rotisserie chicken from which you've removed the skin into whisked egg and then the crushed cereal to coat. Cook in a small amount of olive oil, turning once, and serve with sugar-free maple-style syrup as a dipping sauce.
Hamburgers that Ham it Up with Barley
Extend a small amount of hamburger meat for each patty with cooked barley, minced cooked parsnips and broccoli, minced red onion, minced garlic and cayenne pepper. Cook patties thoroughly and serve with a condiment that's made by thoroughly combining low-sugar ketchup and apple butter.
QUICK TIP OF THE WEEK: Fried rice-style dishes don't have to be fried at all. You can trick your taste buds without all that oil by including ingredients that often are housed within restaurant fried rice dishes. To cooked whole-grain rice (which can be some of the many quick-cook varieties now available), add diced carrots, peas, strips of cooked scrambled egg, small chunks of cooked skinless breast meat cut from a rotisserie chicken, Chinese five-spice powder and reheat just until hot.
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.