(10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare)
By Lisa Messinger
Food and Cooking at Creators Syndicate
Why should spring be the only time your pantry gets a thorough cleaning? Let every season prompt an evaluation of your goods. Using up stray products before their expiration dates is one of the key ways to keep your pantry peppy. Instead of having excess pounds of products taking up space, your cooking becomes more efficient and streamlined, and you save time and money at the supermarket not duplicating items. Plus, as you tidy up, immediate quick-cook ideas may pop into your mind from the remaining goods, like the ketchup-inspired gourmet sandwich melt and warm honey-drizzled cereal-topped dessert below.
Fun fare like this is proof that cooking 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.Catch Up with Your Ketchup
Unlike fresh tomatoes, the processed tomatoes in products like ketchup are singled out for containing the highly nutritious phytochemical lycopene. Spread ketchup on rye bread, sprinkle with Italian seasoning blend, and top with black forest or honey ham, diced black olives and a piece of low-fat provolone or similar cheese. Broil open face until cheese begins to melt.Versatile Vinaigrette
Often store-bought vinaigrette dressings include olive oil or other heart-healthy oils, along with vinegar, which is also beneficial for you. Shred or chunk store-bought rotisserie chicken and marinate, covered, in vinaigrette dressing in refrigerator for at least 5 minutes. Remove chicken, discard marinade, combine chicken with low-fat mayonnaise, chopped, unpeeled Granny Smith apple, diced celery and freshly ground black pepper, and serve on French bread or over romaine lettuce.Come Up with Ideas for Coffee
Add a small amount of instant coffee with Worcestershire sauce and finely diced red bell pepper to meatloaf or burgers before cooking.Freshen Up Your Soup
Before heating according to product directions, add diced fresh mushrooms and green bell pepper and curry powder to canned cream of mushroom soup. Serve topped with croutons you've made by toasting chunks of rosemary or olive bread.Cereal Creates Sweet Memories
Drizzle granola or other whole-grain cereal lightly with honey and heat for a few seconds. Top sugar-free vanilla ice cream with a mixture of chopped, unpeeled fresh pears and peaches, and then the warm honey-granola.QUICK TIP OF THE WEEK:
Consider turning extra kitchen utensils into unique culinary art for your kitchen. Some that have fit the bill: An oversupply of metal whisks of various sizes were corralled together in a stray wooden silverware container that had been part of a dish rack and displayed on a counter; a small worn antique frying pan was partially filled with small black light and dark garden stones, and featured a painted vase with daisies sprouting from the center of the pebble-filled pan; leftover small decorative plates from dish sets that are no longer in use became eye-catching plates for decorative candles.
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.