Thursday, July 14, 2011

Summer time, and the eating is easy.

This cool salad goes well on a hot summer day
with well chilled sangria.

If I misquoted the words of the song, the eating is still easy on hot summer days when you serve cold, tasty, extra-healthy salads. Here are two that are certain to make the day delightful. Start with the ersatz coleslaw, follow with a chicken, rice and pineapple salad for the main course, and finish with a choice of berries and vanilla-flavoured, no-fat yogurt for a no-work, instant, healthy desert.

Here’s the first salad.

This bears but a faint resemblance to regular coleslaw, but Joan and I enjoy it much more.

Ingredients. 1/3 large green cabbage; 1 large red onion; 2 large carrots; 1 large Granny Smith apple; 1.5 cups sultana raisins.

Directions. Coarsely cut the cabbage and onion and chop to coleslaw-size in a food processor. Shred the carrot with a hand shredder. Peel, core and cut the apple into bite-size chunks. Mix in a large serving bowl. Add raisins. You can also add walnuts, crushed peanuts, seeds such as sunflower or pumpkin; slices of sweet pepper, or what-have-you. You can hardly go wrong experimenting with this salad. I always start with at least the listed ingredients, and sometimes add more and sometimes not. It depends on what’s in the refrigerator.

Serves six, or three meals for Joan and me.

The avocado and green tea dressing, which I blogged March 11, is a very healthy choice that goes well with this salad. Serve salad and dressing separately, to be wedded at the table. For the recipe, click here. Then return to this page for the recipe for the main course salad.

Here’s the recipe for the main course salad.

Ingredients. 1.5 cups brown rice (or alternatively 1 cup brown rice and ½ cup wild rice); 1 cup (540 mL, 19 fl oz) sliced pineapple in pineapple juice; ½ cup lemon juice (bottled juice from concentrate); 2 large,skinless, boneless chicken breasts; 1.5 cups frozen corn kernels; 1 Granny Smith apple; 1 green pepper; 1 large navel orange. 1/3 English cucumber; 1 cinnamon stick.

Directions. If you use wild rice, start cooking this alone for the first 10 or 15 minutes before adding the brown rice, which requires less cooking time. Cook the rice in a mixture of pineapple juice drained from the can; lemon juice, and water. Our rice cooker requires two cups of liquid for 1.5 cups of rice. We get about 1/2 cup of pineapple juice from the can, to which I add 1/4  cup of lemon juice and 1/4 of water. The proportions might vary, because I seem to get somewhat volumes of juice from different same-size, same-bands cans of sliced pineapple; while different rice cookers or cooking methods often require different volumes of liquid. Try for enough lemon juice to make the rice quite tart, but not bitter. Add the stick of cinnamon to the rice and liquid, and cook.

Chop the pineapple slices into bite-size pieces, and set aside to drain any remaining liquid in a sieve or colander. You don’t want the pineapple to add too much liquid to the salad. You might wind up with about a mouthful of additional juice to drink. That’s a bonus unless you’re like W.C. Fields, who protested, “Who put pineapple juice in my pineapple juice?”

Cook then chop the chicken breasts in bite-size chunks. We prefer to cook chicken breast in a steamer. That keeps the meat moist, particularly suited for this salad. Alternatively, I sometimes microwave the breasts in a covered casserole dish with about two tbsp of lemon juice to keep them moist. We wind up with a mixture of lemon and chicken juice, which is added to the soup stockpot that accumulates in the freezer.

Cook the corn until just tender. I microwave it for a few minutes in a glass bowl with a little water. Drain after cooking.

Set aside cooked rice, chopped chicken and drained corn to cool.

Meanwhile, prepare the remaining ingredients. Peel the orange and peel and core the apple. Chop orange, apple, cucumber and green pepper (after discarding the seeds). Place all in a large serving bow.

Time now to prepare a quick, simple dressing.

Ingredients: 1 cup Kraft No-fat Miracle Dressing; 1 cup olive or canola oil. (We prefer the bland flavour of canola oil; in terms of heart-healthy unsaturated fat, there’s little to choose between these two oils.); 3 or 4 tbsp liquid honey.

Directions:  Microwave the liquid honey for a few seconds, enough to make it quite warm, thus making it easy to pour and mix. Mix the Kraft dressing, oil and honey. You want this dressing quite sweet to go with the tart rice. Add to the salad and mix to coat all. Chill well before serving.

Serves six.

Make this meal memorable by serving it with well-chilled sangria.

Sandy’s Happy Heart Cooking. Plain, economical, easy-to-make, disgustingly healthy. None of this (or as little as possible): trans fat; saturated fat; refined carbohydrates; hydrogenated foods; whole milk products; fried or sautéed food; egg yoke. Very little of this: red meat; high glycemic foods; added salt; low-fat milk products, e.g., low-fat cheese. In moderation: boneless, skinless chicken breasts; extra-lean ground turkey meat (microwaved to remove more fat); sweeteners (Demerara sugar, honey and sucralose-based products. Good to go stuff:  Fish with high omega-3 fatty acids; soy food; no-fat milk products (notably yogurt); non-hydrogenated canola margarine. Lots of the best stuff: vegetables (a rainbow of dark colours); fruits (especially berries, and tomatoes, cooked with a little oil as a top cancer-fighting food); whole grains (especially steel-cut oats for breakfast); nuts and seeds. Ground flax seeds, a teaspoon or more every day; very in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and fibre.


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