(10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare)
By Lisa Messinger
Food and Cooking at Creators Syndicate
It's a quick trick to experiment with ingredients and spices for split-second copies of fast foods you can make at home. Often, just a few tweaks like that are all it takes to create a dish reminiscent of the original, like gourmet pizzas that are prepared with chicken breast, cilantro and a sweet and spicy sauce or burgers stuffed with low-fat pepperjack cheese and olives that get part of their bounce from pinto beans and Mexican spices.
Homemade touches also can mean healthy ones. When you are in charge of selecting your own ingredients, rather than a restaurant chef, you can substitute low-fat, fat-free, sugar-free or other options.
Fun fare like this proves that food preparation can be easy, nutritious, inexpensive and fast, as the following savvy substitutions prove. The dishes are delicious evidence that everyone --- including you and your kidlets --- has time for tasty home cooking and, more importantly, the healthy family time in the kitchen 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 choose to use can't help but draw "wows
" at the table.FRIENDLY, RATHER THAN FRIED, CHICKEN
Dredge chicken pieces in a mixture of egg and low-fat buttermilk and then in whole-wheat bread crumbs that's been seasoned with curry powder and ground ginger. Bake at 425 F for about 20 minutes, until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 F.PIZZA WITH PIZZAZZ
Turn on broiler. Top whole-wheat English muffins with low-sugar ketchup that's been mixed with sugar-free apricot jam. Top with shredded, drained canned chicken breast, shredded fresh spinach, fresh cilantro, ground cumin and cardamom and white cheddar cheese and broil until cheese is melted and bubbling. BETTER BURGERS
To lean ground beef or lean ground chicken breast or lean ground turkey breast, add drained, ground pinto beans and jarred Mexican or Italian seasoning blend, to taste (these tend to have no salt, compared to packets, which tend to have a lot of it). Create a well in the middle of each burger and stuff with small pieces of low-fat pepperjack cheese and finely diced black olives before cooking to an internal temperature of 160 F.CHINESE FOOD WITH EASE
Get prepackaged wonton wrappers in supermarket refrigerator case and fill with the cabbage mix in a packaged coleslaw mix. Sprinkle with cooked diced baby shrimp, freshly ground black pepper and peach chutney before sealing according to package instructions. Brush skins all over lightly with olive oil and bake at 425 F for about 10-15 minutes, or until lightly browned.TOSTADA THAT'S THE TOTAL PACKAGE
Brush whole-wheat tortilla on one side with olive oil and place that side down in a skillet and heat until it gets a bit crispy and puffy. Carefully remove with a utensil and place on a paper towel to absorb oil. Top with chunks of tofu you've sauteed (in olive oil that's been seasoned with cumin, cilantro, garlic and onion powders), shredded soy cheese, cooked pinto beans, cooked brown rice, salsa and chopped black olives. Top with guacamole and vegan sour cream.QUICK TIP OF THE WEEK:
" recipes even when you are not on a cleanse can be a healthy touch to a regular, everyday diet. The concoctions generally rely on energizing, antioxidant-filled ingredients. One of my favorite books for such cherry-picking is, "Super Cleanse: Detox Your Body for Long-Lasting Health and Beauty
" by Adina Niemerow. It's a good way to check into the raw food trend, which comprises one of the cleanses, by trying everything from a green juice including celery, rainbow chard or beet greens and an apple for sweetening, to a green apple porridge, to a red bell pepper, collard greens and raw macadamia nut wrap. If you do want to check out a full cleanse, instructions are well covered.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.