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Archive for June, 2009

The sweltering days of summer are here again and that means it’s time to start eWatermelon salad3njoying foods that cool us down and quench our thirst. My favorite summer food is watermelon, which conjures up plenty of fun warm-weather memories from my youth. I still enjoy a good watermelon in the summer, but now that I have a more mature palate, I like to create new and unique-tasting dishes in which watermelon’s flavor shines. My current favorite dish is a salad with watermelon, sweet onions, and feta cheese. Although it might sound oxymoronic to combine these ingredients together, the end result is simply scrumptious!

Watermelon isn’t just a fun fruit to eat; it also boasts multiple health benefits. Its Vitamin A and lycopene help reduce inflammation that contributes to such conditions as asthma, atherosclerosis, diabetes, colon cancer, and arthritis. Plus, just one cup of watermelon provides almost a quarter of the recommended daily value for Vitamin C.

So in addition to reminding you of a simpler time during summer vacations, eating watermelon pleases your senses and provides healthful nutrients for your body. Whatever the occasion — whether it’s a picnic, pool party, or any lazy summer day — this recipe from Paula Deen is a refreshing side dish perfect to help combat the heat of summer.

Watermelon Salad

Ingredients:

1 5-pound watermelon

1 Vidalia or other sweet onion

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

Salt and pepper

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

Directions:

Cut the flesh from the watermelon and cut into bite-size pieces, removing and discarding the seeds, and set aside. Peel and slice the onion into thin rings.

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, salt, and pepper and whisk until salt is dissolved. Slowly whisk in the olive oil, a few drops at a time. Taste and adjust seasonings, as appropriate.

In a large bowl, combine the watermelon, onion and feta. Pour the dressing over the mixture and toss gently until everything is coated and evenly mixed.

Enjoy!

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Menu planning2

Ever come home from a long day of work feeling tired and hungry, scan your cookbooks for something – anything – you can serve to your family for dinner, finally settle on a recipe, only to realize that you don’t have the needed ingredients in your house? Finding yourself back at square one, you reluctantly order pizza or other fast food, sabotaging your healthy diet efforts and feeling guilty for doing so.

This was a routine scenario in my household several years ago. My stomach growled louder and louder with each turn of the cookbook page; oftentimes, I gave up on the search effort before even choosing a recipe. I was just too fatigued and hungry to muster up the energy required to eat smartly. The idea of spending time selecting a recipe, gathering the ingredients, and cooking the meal was too much for my tired and food-deprived brain to handle.

All that has changed now that I plan a week’s worth of recipes at a time and grocery shop specifically for the necessary ingredients. This technique ensures my husband and I eat a variety of healthful foods, guarantees I have all ingredients on stock, and prevents desperate, last-minute hunts for dinner. I save money and avoid wasting food by not buying unnecessary ingredients, to boot.

My menu planning routine usually begins on Sunday, when I sit down for about 10 to 15 minutes with my cookbooks and other recipes I have collected, browsing them for appealing meals. I make certain the week’s dinners provide an assortment of nutrients and a variety of foods, including brown rice, whole wheat pasta, vegetables, and protein. Then I make an accompanying grocery list and head to the grocery store for the week’s foods.

Since this process can be a bit rigid, I try to inject flexibility wherever I can. If, for example, I am busy all Sunday, I allot another time to menu plan and grocery shop. If social plans arise mid-week, I save one of my planned recipes to cook at a later time. For just this purpose, I have learned to always include at least one recipe in the weekly list that does not require fresh ingredients, and I prepare the meals that do include fresh ingredients early in the week.

Now that I menu plan on a weekly basis, I am less stressed in the evenings – not to mention less hungry and, therefore, grouchy – which allows me to enjoy a healthful meal with my husband each night.Menu planning!

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