(10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare)
By Lisa Messinger
Food and Cooking at Creators Syndicate
Cold-weather dining often means cozy comfort foods that fill out our winter sweaters. Seasonal super foods, though, are the answer. They help with slimming down, squashing cravings (especially all the hearty varieties of winter squash) and tempting the taste buds.
Acorn squash, sugar pumpkin and sweet potatoes are excellent cooked as is, but adding a few other seasonal adornments, such as pomegranate seeds, dried figs and baked pears create special dishes that experts note are healthful do-gooders. All ingredients are to taste.
- SWEETENED SQUASH
Roast individual serving size pieces of acorn squash. For last 10 minutes, carefully add dollops of cilantro, pomegranate seeds and honey.
- TOAST TO MAKE YOU FEEL TOASTYToast whole-grain raisin bread and spread with almond butter, sprinkle with ground cinnamon and top with extremely thin slices of unpeeled fresh pears.
- SWEET POTATO GRANOLA
Make slight slits in sweet potatoes, wrap in aluminum foil and bake until soft. Carefully slice the skins, remove potatoes, place in bowl and mash with a small amount of butter, brown sugar and allspice. Use as a topping for store-bought or homemade granola.
- TEMPTING TUNA SANDWICH
Prepare drained and flaked canned albacore light tuna mixed with finely chopped celery, dried figs, unpeeled red apples, a small amount of mayonnaise, freshly ground black pepper and ground cloves. Serve on toasted rye bread.
- HAM CANDIED WITH SUPER FOODS
Before baking ham, spread with a thin layer of orange marmalade, and secure firmly into the top of the ham whole cloves and pieces of candied ginger. Serve slices of ham atop packaged slaw you've mixed with extra-virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, segments of drained mandarin oranges and freshly ground black pepper.
- PUMPKIN WITH PIZZAZZ
Mix canned (with no added ingredients) pumpkin with dried cranberries, chopped unpeeled red apple, ground cinnamon and nutmeg and thoroughly heat. Use as a dip for graham crackers (a good choice since they are whole grain and contain fiber).
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:
Simplifying your cooking is a worthy culinary goal of any New Year. Diana Henry is a master of such finesse, as is on display in "Simple: Effortless Food, Big Flavors
". As is a hallmark of some of the world's best cuisines (such as Italian and dishes emerging from Hong Kong), the combination of well-chosen ingredients is key to use just a few and end up with dishes that still combust into fireworks. Simple sauces sometimes help do the trick, as do easy techniques, like caramelizing onions or roasting cauliflower. Just the right additions work wonders, too, like a tablespoon of sake in an egg dish. 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.