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Milford Beacon
  • After-Work Gourmet: Valentine’s Day can be a colorful family health lesson

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  • There is even more reason to color-code your heartfelt recipes this Valentine’s Day.
    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 family dinner table as well.
    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 kid helpers — choose to use can’t help but draw “wows” from all the sweethearts in your family.
    APPETIZER
    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. Carefully drizzle sauce over pieces and top with pomegranate seeds.
    ENTREE
    Pink Salmon for Your Sweethearts
    Drain and flake canned pink salmon, and combine with a small amount of low-fat mayonnaise, ground pink or black peppercorns, a 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, place in a microwave-safe container and warm slightly in microwave oven, or wrap in aluminum foil and warm slightly in oven.
    SIDE DISH
    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.
    HEALTHY DESSERT
    An Apple a Day the Fun Way
    In a 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.
    You can be hungry and still be healthy. Those with big appetites might also consider the addition of this Valentine’s Red Apple Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette:
    VALENTINE’S RED APPLE SALAD WITH RED WINE VINAIGRETTE
    Vinaigrette:
    Page 2 of 2 - • 1/3 cup olive or vegetable oil
    • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
    • 2 T sugar
    • 1 t Dijon mustard
    • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
    Salad:
    • 1 (10-ounce) bag mixed baby greens
    • 1 medium red apple, chopped (about 1 cup)
    • 1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola or blue cheese (about 2 ounces)
    • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (see Note)
    Yields 6 servings.
    To prepare vinaigrette: Just before serving, in small bowl, beat vinaigrette ingredients with wire whisk until smooth.
    To prepare salad: In large bowl, toss salad ingredients with vinaigrette just before serving.
    Note: To toast nuts, heat oven to 350 F. Spread nuts in ungreased shallow pan. Bake uncovered 6 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until light brown.
    Lisa Messinger is a first-place winner in food writing from the Association of Food Journalists and the author of seven food books, including “Mrs. Cubbison’s Best Stuffing Cookbook” and “The Sourdough Bread Bowl Cookbook.”

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