(10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare)
By Lisa Messinger
Food and Cooking at Creators Syndicate
The Good Earth, a small group of natural food restaurants begun in the 1970s that the trade journal Nation's Restaurant News called, "probably the most prominent chain example of a health-food concept," serves up innovative ideas that you can easily and economically replicate at home, such as starting the day with whole grains, vegetables and legumes. Among the choices of side dishes, their breakfasts not only include grilled potatoes, but a brown rice pilaf prepared with celery, mushrooms and scallions, or creations featuring pinto, azuki or black beans. Not only do these dishes add highly nutritious unexpected flavors to breakfast, but they do so economically, since beans and rice are among the most inexpensive ingredients. Try some of my easy ideas inspired by this concept below.
Dishes like these prove innovative food preparation can be easy, nutritious, economical, entertaining - and fast. They take just 10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare. The combinations are delicious evidence that everyone has time for tasty home cooking and, more importantly, the healthy family togetherness that goes along with it! Another benefit: You - and your kidlet helpers - effortlessly become better cooks, since there are no right or wrong amounts. These are virtually-can't-go-wrong mixtures, so whatever you choose to use can't help but draw "wows."
Be a Pilaf Perfectionist
Quickly sauté uncooked brown rice in a small amount of butter with minced onions. Complete cooking of rice in tomato juice that has been seasoned with freshly ground black pepper and curry powder. When rice is cooked, stir in a mixture of finely minced cooked spinach and kale.
Potato-Style Pancakes Without the Potatoes
Take cooked brown rice that you've prepared with low-sodium vegetable broth, finely minced onions, celery and zucchini, and Italian seasoning mix, and form into flat pancakes. Heat a skillet with a small amount of olive oil. Lightly fry pancakes on each side until they get somewhat crispy.
An Apple a Day with Your Beans
Bake red apples until soft, let cool enough to handle, cut into small chunks, sprinkle with ground cinnamon and freshly ground pepper. Reheat slightly and toss into cooked warm black beans.
"Egg-stra" Spicy Touch
Puree cooked pinto beans and then stir in salsa and minced fresh cilantro. Serve warm in a whole-grain tortilla wrap with scrambled eggs.
QUICK TIP OF THE WEEK: The Good Earth whole-food restaurants found that when they substituted green Granny Smith apples for the usual red apples in their fresh-squeezed juice, the customer inquiries and rave reviews skyrocketed. Although Granny Smith apples are tart when eaten by hand, there is an immediate extremely sweet tang to the juice that is much more pronounced and memorable than when milder red varieties are used, bringing to mind the fresh blends of apple juice that are famed in England. If trying juice like this at home, attempt to purchase small-to-medium-sized Granny Smith apples by the bag (usually about 3 pounds per sack), instead of individually to save on your grocery bill.
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.