(10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare)
By Lisa Messinger
Food and Cooking at Creators Syndicate
Whether it's a picky kidlet's palate or just that of a bored dieter, sometimes wholesome food loses its wow factor. However, usually, all it takes is a strategic tweak to make a tasty difference.
I learned this recently with graham crackers. The old-fashioned cookies are fairly low in sugar and calories and, importantly, unlike many other packaged cookies, have 2 grams of dietary fiber per serving. After a while, though, they no longer called to me. That was until I came across a package of cocoa- and chocolate-infused ones. All of a sudden, a craving was created and, to boot, dark chocolate and unsweetened cocoa powder are powerful controllers of blood sugar.
The snacks were excellent as is, or even more exciting when spread with a thin layer of whipped cream cheese and topped with halved fresh raspberries or drained mandarin oranges.
Following are a few more whole new ideas to enhance wholesome foods. 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.
- STACK UP AN OATMEAL SUNDAE
Prepare quick-cooking oatmeal and carefully while hot in individual serving dishes intersperse layers of oatmeal with layers of fruit-only strawberry spread (available in the jam aisle of supermarkets), hulled and diced fresh strawberries, unsweetened shredded coconut, and chopped peanuts.
- CARAMELIZED CARROTS
Spray a nonstick skillet lightly with nonstick cooking spray, turn on low-medium heat and carefully add shredded carrots, diced, peeled beets, minced garlic and onions and cook, stirring frequently. Cover lightly with low-fat French salad dressing, stir frequently until carrots and the French dressing gives the appearance of being caramelized.
- EVEN GREATER GREEN TEA
Boil apple juice, ground cinnamon, and the juice of freshly squeezed tangerines. Steep green tea bags in it for 4 minutes. Remove tea bags before serving.
- BEAUTIFYING NUT BUTTER
Melt a single serving of 70 percent or higher cacao dark chocolate and stir into a single serving of peanut, almond, cashew or hazelnut butter, along with diced dried apricots and ground allspice. Good served on whole-wheat toast or spread on fresh apple or pear slices.
- BRING WHOLE-WHEAT BREAD TO LIFE
Add chunks of one-day-old whole-wheat bread to your favorite bread pudding recipe, along with golden raisins, diced fresh pears and Chinese five-spice powder (available in supermarket spice aisles).
QUICK TIP OF THE WEEK: Do you prefer your "superfoods" in a broth or pureed and piping hot? If soothing soup sounds like just the home for your kale, spinach, quinoa and other diet enhancers, then Julie Morris' Superfood Soups: 100 Delicious, Energizing & Plant-Based Recipes is worth a sip. Having already put her spin on a book of Superfood Smoothies, soup was a logical next step with innovative combinations like Portobello Barley Soup with Horseradish Cream. A neat addition: Soups are organized in the index by health benefits as well, such as contribution to bone strength or ability to help cleanse or detox.
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.