(10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare)
By Lisa Messinger
Food and Cooking at Creators Syndicate
Fresh mint is often associated with spring, and its green color and unique flavor stirs some fun into St. Patrick's Day dishes. Besides how economical and easy it is to find in most supermarket produce aisles, the best part about mint is how simple it is to use to up the taste quotient of meals. Just chop and sprinkle in or, for even less of an effort, use whole sprigs atop a dish.
What's often overlooked, though, is how versatile mint is and how well it blends with other flavors. The famed TV chef/restaurateur Mario Batali food processes it with other seasonings and rubs it on lamb chops he grills. Mint spices international stews and casseroles and can get whipped into Italian pesto. It can also be sprinkled with chopped chilies atop grilled or roasted vegetables. Try some of the "10-Second" ideas that follow.
The tasty recipes that follow prove cooking can be easy, nutritious, economical, entertaining - 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 - and your kidlet helpers - effortlessly become better cooks, since these are just guidelines and there are no right or wrong amounts
. These are virtually-can't-go-wrong combinations, so whatever you choose to use can't help but draw wows.
--- In a blender, prepare a smoothie with soy milk or almond milk, unpeeled, cored Granny Smith apple chunks, a small handful of romaine lettuce, chopped fresh mint, ice cubes, and an all-natural sugar-free sweetener, like stevia.
QUICK TIP OF THE WEEK:
--- Food process fresh mint with freshly ground black pepper, curry powder, dried ginger, and tamarind, and rub over lamb chops before cooking.
--- Stir freshly chopped mint into store-bought pesto, spread that onto Italian bread and make sandwiches using thinly sliced ham, provolone cheese, chopped sautéed mushrooms, finely chopped gherkin pickles, and a drizzle of spicy mustard.
--- Before cooking, toss fresh asparagus with fresh lemon juice, olive oil, thinly sliced garlic cloves, sliced chili peppers, and chopped fresh mint. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts before serving.
--- Before baking, mix into sugar-free brownie batter chopped fresh mint, butterscotch or peanut butter chips, chopped pecans, mini marshmallows, and dried cranberries. Serve each brownie with a sprig of fresh mint.
Economical cork coasters - often just pennies each - blend in with any decor and are perfect for absorbing drips of liquid and protecting your tabletops. However, they also prove versatile elsewhere:
- Vibrating cell phones (put on that setting to be "silent") often still make some noise, especially when they vibrate against a surface on which they may be placed. The cork coaster quiets it much more, though, when the phone is placed atop that.
- They make a good decoy cover for a scratch on a wood table.
- Glue or tape to a wall and use as a cute tiny bulletin board on which to pin mini sticky notes.
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.