(10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare)
By Lisa Messinger
Food and Cooking at Creators Syndicate
Food writers often want to encourage you to become a master of every seasonal ingredient under the sun or snow clouds, depending on the time of year. That makes for a fairly long shopping list and lots of energy spent on various techniques. In order to use your time wisely both in and out of the kitchen, why not instead focus inventively on just one quality seasonal ingredient at a time in order to reach both its and your potential.
For me, this season one of those is pure maple syrup. Just drizzles of the sweet, rich condiment contributes to a fall flavor fest. The most important trick: Don't use it where it's expected, like on pancakes or French toast, and do insert it in the unexpected, like the tea that follows. All ingredients are to taste.
Fun fare like this also proves food preparation can be easy, nutritious, inexpensive, fun - 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:
- STEEPED IN FLAVOR
A tiny note with my new teapot clued me in to something I've been doing to great effect ever since. Boil ingredients with the water, then steep the tea in it for a much richer experience than if you just stirred in condiments, like sugar or syrups, afterward. A new favorite I created: Boil together water, maple syrup, fresh tangerine juice and allspice. Steep cinnamon apple teabags in it. Carefully remove teabags before serving.
- CEREAL GONE BANANAS
Melt butter in pan in low-medium heat and saute slices of banana. Turn off heat, drizzle with maple syrup and gently mix. Use as a warm topping for raisin bran and milk, soy milk or almond milk.
- PUMPED UP PUMPERNICKEL
Into whipped cream cheese, gently mix maple syrup, ground cinnamon, curry powder and chopped walnuts. Spread onto pumpernickel bread and top with arugula and another piece of pumpernickel.
- MORE VIBRANT VEGETABLES
Steam carrots cut into coin shapes, chopped green beans and chunks of unpeeled apple. After cooking and just before serving, carefully glaze with a mixture of maple syrup, fresh chopped rosemary and freshly ground black pepper. Sprinkle on dried cherries.
- PEPPY POPCORN
Gently mix popped popcorn with maple syrup, unsweetened cocoa powder, pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries.
If you hadn't thought before that a delicious Coconut-Banana Soft Serve might be a way to keep your blood sugar in check, authors Jill Hillhouse
and Lisa Cantkier
write, "You won't be going back to commercial ice cream once you taste this!
" The nutritionists, who focus on whole foods, include a slew of innovative recipes in "The Paleo Diabetes Solution
," with tasty recipes an entire health-focused family might crave. Seasonal specialties, such as Balsamic Roasted Vegetables or Pumpkin Seed-Crusted Rainbow Trout, may turn into favorites without anyone realizing good nutrition was the goal. 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.