(10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare)
By Lisa Messinger
Food and Cooking at Creators Syndicate
You can get in the pink this Valentine's Day by serving your family a menu of red specialties. Some do that just to be in fashion for the holiday - and the theme does make for a fun day - but there is even more reason to color-code your heartfelt recipes. Research shows the deeper red (or any dark color, like purple) produce is, such as red bell peppers, chiles, tomatoes, cherries, pomegranates and apples, the more protective antioxidants it provides. Round out meals with further tickle-me-pink choices, like nutrient-packed pink salmon, which is delicious and economical when bought canned, and you are in for a day when love is not only in the air, but on the plate.
Cooking 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 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 all the sweethearts in your family.
Shake a Pom-Pom and Cheer for Pomegranates
Place pomegranate juice or purple grape juice in a saucepan, season with ground cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg and heat until reduced and syrupy. Section segments of pink or other grapefruit and place on salad plates. Drizzle sauce over pieces and top with pomegranate seeds.
Pink Salmon for Your Sweethearts
Flake canned pink salmon and combine with a small amount of low-fat mayonnaise, ground pink or black peppercorns, dash of red cayenne pepper, rosemary, dill, finely diced red bell pepper and grape tomatoes. Spread into red-colored red pepper-flavored or other flour tortillas, wrap in paper towels and warm slightly in microwave oven or wrap in aluminum foil and warm slightly in oven.
Couscous to Leave You Cooing
Prepare couscous according to package directions and, when done, stir in diced dried cherries and cranberries, tomatoes, carrots and celery as well as canned curry sauce. Reheat and serve drizzled with chopped fresh mint.
An Apple a Day the Fun Way
In blender, puree seedless red grapes, add vanilla and almond extracts and season with freshly ground black pepper and anise. Heat until warm and drizzle over heated sugar-free store-bought apple pie that's been topped with sugar-free vanilla ice cream.
QUICK TIP OF THE WEEK: More economical than buying blended cream cheese is to prepare creative concoctions of your own. Choose softer whipped cream cheese - which also has less calories than regular varieties - and use healthful finely diced add-ins, such as well-drained olives, jalapeno chiles (wear latex gloves when chopping and don't touch your eyes during or afterward), dates or bell pepper. Stay away from add-ins which might be too watery, like celery or cucumbers.
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.