Friday, July 24, 2009

An All-Natural Approach to Enhancing Summer Activities

Enhancing summer activities with a well-balanced menu can be an expensive and time-consuming predicament. Whether it is taking the kids to soccer practice, working out the kinks in a golf swing or mowing the lawn, summer chaos makes it difficult to prepare an enticing menu.

Mitzi Dulan, Registered Dietician and sports nutritionist to Major League Baseball and National Football League teams, stresses the importance of eating foods with natural sources of energy during these hectic months. Consuming foods such as fruits and whole grains, and using all-natural honey can enhance summer activities without draining your wallet. Other tips Mitzi gives for extending the dollar in a deliciously effective way include:
  • Save green by eating more green! Include more plant-based meals. It’s not a secret that meat is one of the most expensive parts of a food budget.

  • Take a healthy snack to work. This is a great way to make sure you are getting more healthy foods in your diet.

  • A little advanced planning goes a long way. Spend some time each week planning your meals and snacks. Taking a comprehensive grocery list when shopping helps to avoid unwanted items in your cart and ensures you’ll have everything you need for the week.

  • Whenever possible, shop at farmers’ markets. It is a great way to support your local farmers and save money.
The following recipes, courtesy of the National Honey Board, highlight several options that can help provide an all-natural boost. Also, find other great summer recipes at the National Honey Board’s Web site, www.honey.com.


Fresh Honey Ginger Syrup (For Fresh Honey Ginger Soda)
Makes about 4 cups


Ingredients:

1/2 cup fresh ginger root, peeled and sliced

3 cups water

1 1/2 cups honey

2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice

Directions:

Combine ginger, water and honey in a large sauce pan and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes (liquid will reduce by about one quarter). Remove from heat and let cool. Pour (in batches if necessary) into blender or food processor and blend or pulse on medium to extract ginger. Strain out solids with a fine mesh or cloth strainer. Syrup may be stored in the refrigerator at this point for up to one week. Just before using, add citrus juices. Taste and adjust as strength of produce varies.

*If lighter, less spicy ginger flavor is desired skip blending and simply strain.

*Omitting citrus will result in a smooth but spicy honey-ginger syrup.

To Use:

Blend honey ginger syrup with sparkling water, cider, grape juice or unsweetened cranberry juice; or use as a sweetener for lemonade, limeade, ice tea or party punches. Make delicious versions of classic cocktails such as a Mint Julep or a Champagne Cocktail by simply replacing simple syrup or sugar with honey ginger syrup.



Fresh Honey Ginger Soda


For each soda:

Combine 1 part honey ginger syrup to 2 parts sparkling water.

Serve over ice; garnish with fresh lime wedge.



Honey Almond Yogurt Dip
Makes about 1 1/2 quarts


Ingredients:

1 quart plain or Greek-style yogurt

1 cup almond butter

3/4 cup honey

1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce

1 to 2 tablespoons ginger powder (or 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger), to taste

1 to 2 tablespoons mustard powder, to taste

Toasted almond slices or fresh cilantro, for garnish

Optional: Add hot sauce or chili powder for spice.


Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl; blend until smooth. Garnish with toasted almond slices or fresh cilantro, if desired. Serve with sliced fruits and vegetables for dipping.



Honey Quinoa Bread
Makes 1 large loaf (11”x6”) or 4 mini loaves (6”x3”)



Ingredients:

1 cup raw quinoa, cooked according to instructions and cooled

1/4 cup oatmeal, cooked according to instructions and cooled

2 teaspoons salt

1/3 cup honey

3/4 cup warm water

2 teaspoons dry active yeast

1/4 cup sunflower oil (plus more for rising bowl)

3 1/2 to 4 cups white whole wheat flour


Directions:

Combine quinoa, oatmeal, salt, honey, warm water and yeast, in that order, in a large mixing bowl and let sit for 10 minutes; until foamy. Stir in oil and 1 cup of flour. Continue incorporating the flour using a heavy wooden spoon until dough becomes stiff. Turn dough out onto a floured surface to knead by hand adding enough of the remaining flour so that dough is smooth and elastic and forms a ball that springs back when depressed with a finger; about or 10 to 15 minutes. Place dough ball in a large, lightly oiled bowl turning to completely coat with oil. Cover loosely and place in a warm location to rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours. Punch down dough and shape into a smooth ball(s) to fit one 11”x 6” or 4 6”x3” oiled loaf pans. Tops should be smooth and without seams. Brush or spray tops lightly with water, sprinkle with additional raw quinoa seeds, if desired and allow to rise in a warm location until nearly doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 375°F degrees (350°F for small loaves). Place bread in center oven rack. Check bread in 20 to 30 minutes (cover with foil if the top is browning too quickly), rotate and bake 10 to 15 minutes more or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Cool in pan for 15 minutes before removing to a rack to completely cool. Serve with honey butter.



Native Wild Rice Salad with Honey Verjus Vinaigrette


For Honey Verjus Vinaigrette:

1/2 cup verjus (or 1/3 cup champagne vinegar)

1/4 cup robustly flavored honey, such as Wildflower or Buckwheat

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 cup sunflower, grape seed or light olive oil

1 tablespoon shallots, minced

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


For Salad:

1 1/2 cup (dry) 100% wild rice, cooked according to instructions and cooled
1/3 cup sun-dried cranberries
1 cup parsley, chopped
1/4 cup roasted sunflower seeds
4 medium scallions, finely chopped

1 cup seasonal produce, such as steamed asparagus tips or ramps, halved grapes, cherry tomatoes, diced apples, shredded carrots, fennel or celery root, roasted squash, beets, or parsnips.
1 cup honey verjus vinaigrette
Sea salt and ground pepper to taste


Directions:

For dressing; combine all ingredients and whisk or blend until emulsified.

For salad: combine rice and remaining ingredients, including honey verjus vinaigrette.

Season with salt and pepper, mix thoroughly, taste and adjust seasonings and dressing as needed.

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