(10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare)
By Lisa Messinger
Food and Cooking at Creators Syndicate
Like blogger and cookbook author Cassie Johnston, perhaps you're making coffee ice cream at home one night because you prefer to use decaf beans that won't keep you awake and it hits you that almost a cup of pure maple syrup would be a good addition.
Even if you don't have as much time as Johnston, an Indiana farmer and author of Chia, Quinoa, Kale, Oh My: Recipes for 40+ Delicious, Super-Nutritious Superfoods, you can easily create a flavor sensation.
- For a shortcut, drizzle maple syrup atop store-bought coffee ice cream, sugar-free vanilla frozen yogurt or into a cup of decaf or regular coffee.
There are a lot of rewards when it comes to thinking outside of the bottle regarding maple syrup, an especially perfect cool-weather ingredient. Although best not to eat large amounts because of its sugar content, it is a natural, unprocessed sweetener with a distinctive, smooth flavor.
Pears, for instance, definitely get perked up when roasted with a balsamic maple dressing in Terry Walters' Eat Clean Live Well
, which the cook serves both as a dessert mingling with non-dairy coconut ice cream and as a breakfast topping over steel-cut oats.
- For a shortcut, poach or warm pears and drizzle with a mixture of balsamic vinegar and maple syrup.
Splashing around the creativity even further is author Rick Rodgers (The Big Book of Sides
) when he includes the silky nectar in a Pear and Sweet Potato Casserole with Bacon.
- For a shortcut, buy a supermarket or takeout sweet potato casserole and add sauteed chopped pears and maple syrup before heating or reheating.
Rodgers goes for the pairing with bacon again in a tempting Brussels sprouts mixture.
- For a shortcut, prepare Brussels sprouts as you usually would and top with chopped crisp bacon and drizzle of maple syrup before serving.
An award-winning author who has written more than 40 cookbooks, Rodgers has this advice for you about the luscious liquid: "American maple syrup is graded according to its color and depth of flavor," he writes. "Recently, the names of the grades have changed. Grade A (formerly called Grade B), which has a robust flavor and mahogany hue, is my choice for all-purpose syrup for both cooking and pouring over pancakes. In Canada, which supplies about 80 percent of the world's maple syrup, this syrup is graded Number 2. If I use the lighter, more delicate Amber, I add a few drops of pure maple extract to boost the flavor."
Fun shortcuts like the aforementioned also prove food 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 creative combinations are delicious proof that everyone has time for creating homemade specialties 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 family members and guests.QUICK TIP OF THE WEEK:
St. Patrick's Day is the perfect time to have some fun introducing your kidlets to healthful green foods. How about a handful of finely chopped fresh mint in a salad or even over some sugar-free chocolate ice cream? Have a green "mustache" contest (where "selfies" can be sent to friends) for kids willing to sip frothy green juices (spinach, celery, cucumber). They can experience how tasty the green vegetable juices are when they also include fresh apple or pineapple juice. When the leafy green kale is sauteed, it becomes an even brighter shade of green, which kids probably will get a kick out of observing as you cook. You might also talk briefly about how healthful leafy greens are in general and have kids try to pair name cards with the greens for small prizes.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.