(10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare)
By Lisa Messinger
Food and Cooking at Creators Syndicate
Using a food processor and cleaning its parts afterward is often more work than it's worth for quick, convenience meals. I found, though, that my everyday easy dishes multiplied when I switched to an inexpensive plastic and blade food slicer that's also simple to clean and usually available for sale from multiple brands for close to $10.
After being served a restaurant salad topped with multiple julienned vegetables and realizing it upped the flavor and crunch appeal, I sought out a slicer to emulate it without having to pull out and clean my food processor or do the chop work by hand. Following manufacturer instructions and carefully sliding a chunk of vegetable under a provided food gripper/hand protector through the blades does the trick. Adults only, though-as with any appliance with blades, kids should not use it.
I routinely prepare a bowl of julienned vegetables with lunch and then use it throughout the day for healthy meals and snacks. Following are examples of how much variety can come from one mixture, thereby saving time all day. All ingredients are to taste. I start with julienned cucumbers, carrots, celery and red onion.
Fun fare like this also proves food preparation can be easy, nutritious, inexpensive - and fast. 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 these are virtually-can't-go-wrong combinations. They can't help but draw "wows
" from family members and guests.
QUICK TIP OF THE WEEK: Daphne Oz
- TOSS A TERRIFIC MEAL
Toss the julienned vegetable mixture with torn romaine lettuce, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, grated Parmesan cheese, cooked peeled shrimp and a dressing that's made by whisking orange marmalade with light soy sauce and curry powder.
- STIR-FRY WILL EQUAL SMILES
Heat a small amount of extra-virgin olive oil and cashews in a wok or skillet. Carefully add the julienned vegetable mixture, which has been seasoned with freshly ground black pepper and drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette. Cook until vegetables are hot and nuts have turned light brown.
- WRAP UP SOME PRAISE
Warm flavored flour tortillas, such as red bell pepper or spinach, and spread with a small amount of store-bought pesto. Toss the julienned vegetables with strips of fat-free or vegan-style cheese, Italian seasoning blend, chopped, pitted black olives, diced cooked skinless chicken breast and roll up before serving.
- BOWLED OVER BY SNACK BOWL
Toss the julienned vegetables with fresh seedless red grapes, honey-roasted nut mixture, sweetened shredded coconut and poppy seeds.
, co-host of TV's "The Chew
," knows that sometimes just a simple touch is all it takes to hit a homerun with an everyday meal. That's why she adds truffle salt to her roast chicken, coconut and mango to her pancakes and makes her quesadillas taste like Philly cheesesteaks in "The Happy Cook: 125 Recipes for Eating Every Day Like It's the Weekend"
. The key is that every one of the handful of ingredients in each easy recipe is irreplaceable and balances expertly with the others. Lisa Messinger
at Creators Syndicate 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.