Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

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SICILY — SPRING MORNING by Leonid Afremov

SICILY — SPRING MORNING by Leonid Afremov

Make some healthy, delicious spring desserts with in-season ingredients like lemon, berries, rhubarb, cherries and herbs. A great way to celebrate spring.

These desserts can fit any occasion, whether you are entertaining guests or as a delicious ending to a family dinner.

Olive Oil Cornmeal Cake with Strawberry Sauce

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Ingredients

  • 1 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons finely snipped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sugar or sparkling sugar
  • Strawberry Sauce, (recipe below)
  • Fresh basil leaves and/or fresh strawberries

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease and flour an 8 x 1-1/2-inch round cake pan; set aside.

In a medium bowl stir together flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl whisk together eggs, granulated sugar, milk and olive oil. Using a wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture and snipped basil until combined.

Pour batter into prepared cake pan, spreading evenly. Sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Bake about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

Remove cake from the pan. Turn cake, sugar side up. Cool completely on a wire rack.

To serve, cut cake into wedges. Serve with Strawberry Sauce and garnish with fresh basil leaves and/or fresh strawberries.

Strawberry Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of fresh strawberries, hulled
  • 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoons of white balsamic vinegar

Directions

In a blender or food processor, combine strawberries, sugar and 1 tablespoon of the white balsamic vinegar. Cover and blend or process until smooth.

If desired, stir in additional white balsamic vinegar to taste. Cover and chill for up to 24 hours. Stir before serving.

Rosemary and Lemon Cupcakes

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ¾ cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons lemon extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons finely shredded lemon peel
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Lemon Glaze (recipe below)

Directions

Let butter and eggs stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Line fifteen 2-1/2-inch muffin cups with paper bake cups; set aside.

In a medium bowl combine cake flour, rosemary, baking powder and salt; set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter on medium-high for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar, lemon extract and vanilla. Beat on medium-high for 2 minutes until light and fluffy, scraping bowl.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Alternately add flour mixture and milk to the butter mixture; beat on low after each addition, just until combined. Stir in the lemon peel and lemon juice.

Spoon batter into prepared cups to three-fourths full.

Bake 22 to 25 minutes, until a wooden pick inserted in centers comes out clean.

(Bake 36 mini cakes 15 to 18 minutes; 6 jumbo cakes 25 to 30 minutes.) Cool in the muffin pan on a rack 5 minutes. Remove muffins from the pan; cool completely.

Spoon Lemon Glaze on cupcakes. Let stand 10 minutes. Makes 15 (2-1/2-inch) cupcakes.

Lemon Glaze

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of powdered sugar
  • 5 teaspoons of lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon of finely shredded lemon peel

Directions

In a small bowl combine powdered sugar and enough of the lemon juice to reach spreading consistency. Stir in lemon peel.

Cherries Poached in Red Wine with Mascarpone Cream

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4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups red wine
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1-by-3-inch strip orange zest
  • 2 pounds sweet cherries, halved and pitted
  • 1 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons honey

Directions

In a medium stainless-steel saucepan, combine the wine, sugar and orange zest. Bring to a simmer over moderately high heat. Add the cherries and bring back to a simmer. Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the cherries are just tender, about 5 minutes. Pour into a glass or stainless-steel serving bowl.

In a small bowl, combine the mascarpone with the honey. Remove the strip of orange zest from the cherries. Serve the warm cherries and syrup in bowls or stemmed glasses, topped with a large dollop of the mascarpone cream.

Blueberry-Lemon Shortcakes

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons cold butter, cut up
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons fat-free milk
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons plain fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons finely shredded lemon peel
  • 1 recipe Honey-Yogurt Cream (below)
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl stir together flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in center of the flour mixture; set aside.

In a small bowl beat egg lightly with a fork. Stir in milk, 2 tablespoons of the honey, 2 tablespoons yogurt and the lemon peel. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened.

Using a large spoon, drop dough into 8 mounds onto a parchment-lined or lightly greased baking sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden. Transfer shortcakes to a wire rack; let cool.

To serve, split the shortcakes in half horizontally. Place bottom halves on serving plates. Evenly top bottom halves with the Honey-Yogurt Cream and blueberries.

Top with shortcake tops and drizzle evenly with the remaining 1 tablespoon honey. Serve immediately.

Honey-Yogurt Cream

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce of plain fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1/2 cup of whipped cream

Directions

In a medium bowl stir together yogurt and honey. Fold in whipped cream.

Rhubarb Buckle

Buckle Is a type of cake made in a single layer with fresh fruit added to the batter. The topping is similar to a streusel, which gives it a buckled or crumpled appearance.

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For the cake

  • Vegetable-oil cooking spray, for cake pans
  • 1 pound plus 10 ounces rhubarb, trimmed and cut 1/2 inch thick on the bias
  • 2 cups sugar, divided
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

For the crumb topping

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup light-brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted

Directions

Make the cake:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, with the oven rack in the center position.

Coat two 9-inch square cake pans with cooking spray and line them with parchment, leaving an overhang on 2 sides.

Stir together rhubarb and 1 cup sugar; set aside to macerate.

Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

Beat together butter, remaining 1 cup of sugar and the lemon zest until light and fluffy.

Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, then beat in vanilla. Beat in flour mixture in 2 additions, alternating with the sour cream, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

Make the crumb topping:

Stir together flour, brown sugar and salt. Add melted butter; stir to combine.

Divide batter between the pans. Top with rhubarb mixture and sprinkle with crumb topping.

Bake until golden on top and cooked through, about 1 hour 5 minutes. Let cool completely in the pans on wire racks, then lift cakes from the pans using the parchment overhangs.

Remove parchment. Before serving, cut buckle into 2-inch squares.


Eating fruit as part of your daily diet can help you maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of heart disease, strokes and some cancers. Also, fruit contains a great variety of vitamins and minerals, carbohydrates and fiber. So, eating the right combinations of fruit is particularly good for you. For instance, an apple is high in fiber but low in vitamin C, but if you add an orange and some strawberries, then you will get all the vitamin C you need for that day.
If you didn’t know fruit was good for you, you would not eat it. But, as much as you would prefer to eat potato chips for a snack, you know that fruit is an important part of a balanced diet. Don’t forget about fruit when you plan your weekly meals.
Plan your meals before you go shopping; make sure they include fruit. Breakfast cereal can be topped with bananas, low-fat yogurt can be mixed with blueberries, and pancakes can be decorated with fresh strawberries. Seedless grapes make an easy side to your lunchtime sandwich. You can even top your dinner salad with chopped apples or sliced oranges.
According to USDA’s, My Pyramid, you want to eat around 1-1/2 to 2 cups of fruit everyday. Aim for fresh, seasonal fruit whenever possible. If fresh fruit is not available, dried, canned or frozen fruit are other options. Remember, portions of dried fruit are smaller–a serving is typically 1/4-cup.
Don’t always stick to the same foods, as you could find that you are still lacking in some nutrients. Make sure that you include a variety of foods in a variety of colours – the brighter the better.  Summer is the perfect time to start.

Guide to fruit portions:

Fresh fruit:

  • Small-sized fruit: 2 or more, for example 2 plums, 2 satsumas, 3 apricots, 2 kiwi, 7 strawberries, 14 cherries.
  • Medium-sized fruit: 1 medium fruit, such as 1 apple, banana, pear, orange or nectarine.
  • Large fruits: half a grapefruit, 1 slice of papaya, 1 slice of melon (2-inch slice), 1 large slice of pineapple, 2 slices of mango (2-inch slices)

Dried fruit:

  • 1 tablespoon of raisins, currants, sultanas, 1 tablespoon of mixed fruit, 2 figs, 3 prunes, 1 handful of banana chips

Canned or frozen fruit:

  • Roughly the same quantity of fruit that you would eat as a fresh portion: 2 pear or peach halves, 6 apricot halves, 8 segments of tinned grapefruit

Juices:

  • A glass (6 oz.) of 100% juice (fruit or smoothie) counts as 1 portion, but you should only count juice as 1 portion per day, however much you drink. This is mainly because it contains very little fiber and more sugar than fresh fruit.

EASY WAYS TO EAT MORE FRUIT

  1. Add fruit slices to sandwiches. Sliced pear and apple add a unique texture and unexpected flavor.
  2. Mix chopped fruit into plain yogurt. When comparing six-ounce containers of Greek yogurt, plain offers 18 grams of protein for 100 calories, and strawberry is 140 calories with 14 grams of protein. Instead of buying the premade flavors, make your own by adding pureed or chopped fruit. You’ll save money, avoid added sugars, and be able to customize the flavor to your taste buds with distinct combos like blackberry peach or strawberry pear.
  3. Add fruit to baked goods. We’ve all made banana bread, but that’s not the only fruit-based treat you can bake. Lower the fat in just about any recipe by replacing half the oil with applesauce, or get creative with muffin recipes by adding diced strawberries, or mix bits of dried apricots into cookie dough.
  4. Cut up fruit and store it in the fridge. It takes effort to wash and cut fruit, enough to make you reach for something easier and less healthy. Make fruit as accessible as a bag of chips by storing cut up fruit in portion size containers in the refrigerator.
  5. Eat fruit for dessert. Save calories and skip the refined sugars by enjoying nature’s dessert.

Recipes That Add Fruit To Your Daily Meal Choices

Breakfast

Buttermilk Oat Pancakes

4 servings, 3 oatcakes & 1/4 cup fruit sauce each

  • 2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. To prepare oatcakes: Whisk buttermilk and egg in a medium bowl. Combine oats, flour, sugar, baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and salt in another medium bowl. Stir the dry mixture into the wet mixture and let stand for 15 minutes. The mixture will bubble slightly as it sits.
  2. Using a pastry brush coat a griddle or large nonstick skillet with canola oil; heat over medium heat. Using 1/4 cup of batter for each, cook 3 or 4 oatcakes at a time until bubbles dot the surface, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and continue cooking until browned, 1 to 2 minutes more, reducing heat if necessary to prevent over browning.  Keep warm in a 200 F. oven.
  3. Serve the oatcakes with the fruit sauce.


Fruit Sauce

  • 2 cups fresh berries, whatever is in season
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Meanwhile, place berries, maple syrup and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in a small heavy saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the berries are mostly broken down and syrupy, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.

Good For You Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

  • 1 cup King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 cup Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup chopped fresh, seasonal fruit (blueberries, blackberries or raspberries, leave whole)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs or ¾ cup egg substitute

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin pan.
Whisk together the flours, oats, brown sugar, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and fruit.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, oil, and eggs. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and mix until just blended.
Using an ice cream scoop put batter into the prepared muffin pan, filling each cup three-quarters full. Bake the muffins for 15 to 18 minutes, until they are light golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
Remove them from the oven, and let rest in the pan for 5 minutes before turning out to cool completely on a rack. Serve warm.

Lunch

Florida Citrus Salad with Shrimp


Makes 4 servings

  • 8 small potatoes (fingerling, or red or yellow)
  • 3 grapefruit or oranges or tangerines
  • 1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 whole cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1 avocado, peeled and diced
  • 4 tablespoons fresh pomegranate seeds, optional
  • 1/4 cup chopped herb of choice (oregano, tarragon, dill, basil)
  • 1 head radicchio, washed and torn into small pieces
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

12 jumbo shrimp (peeled and deveined)

Vinaigrette

  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

Cook potatoes in boiling salted water until tender. While potatoes cook, whisk together vinaigrette ingredients in medium bowl.
Slice cooked potatoes and place them immediately into vinaigrette while hot to infuse flavor.
Zest grapefruit or orange to get 2 to 3 tablespoons of peel. Then, peel and segment fruit over a strainer set over a bowl to save juice for searing shrimp.
In hot sauté pan, cook shrimp in 1 tablespoon olive oil. Cook shrimp 1 or 2 minutes on each side until pink. Add grapefruit zest and reserved juice to pan.
Combine shrimp, fruit and remaining salad ingredients, toss and serve.

Spring Greens and Strawberries With Poppy Seed Dressing

4 servings

Salad

  • 1 1/2 cups watercress leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups torn arugula leaves
  • 2 cups torn tender spinach leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries
  • 1/3 cup sliced toasted almonds
  • Orange Poppy Seed Dressing, recipe below

In a large bowl, combine the watercress, arugula, spinach and strawberries.  Pour the dressing to taste over the salad and toss gently to combine. Sprinkle with almonds.

Orange Poppy Seed Dressing

Makes 1-1/2 cups

  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 6 tablespoons cold water
  • 1-1/3 cups orange juice
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 4 teaspoons honey
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons poppy seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

In a small saucepan, combine cornstarch and cold water until smooth. Stir in the orange juice, vinegar, mustard and honey. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1 minute or until thickened. Stir in poppy seeds and salt. Cover and refrigerate until chilled.

Dinner


Salmon with Fruit Salsa

Makes: 4 servings

Salsa:

  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh strawberries or chopped, peeled peaches or nectarines
  • 1/3 cup chopped, peeled kiwi fruit or fresh apricots or mango
  • 1/4 cup small diced red onion
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves

Salmon

  • 16 ounces fresh, skinned salmon, about 1 inch thick
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning
  • Salt

Pat dry fish dry with paper towels. Cut into 4 serving-size pieces.

For fruit salsa: in a medium nonreactive bowl, combine all of the ingredients and stir to blend. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest 30 minutes before serving..

Brush both sides of each fish piece with oil. Sprinkle with lemon-pepper seasoning and salt.
Oil the unheated rack of a broiler pan, or grill pan or outdoor grill. Place fish on pan or grill.

Broil 4 inches or from heat or grill for 8 to 12 minutes or just until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork, turning once halfway through cooking. Serve with the fruit salsa.

Chicken With Peaches and Basil

  • 3 tablespoons Wondra all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 ripe fresh peaches or 2 nectarines
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3/4 cup low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped

In a shallow dish, combine flour and half of the salt and pepper, set aside 2 teaspoons for sauce.
In remaining flour mixture, coat chicken well; shake of excess.
In a large  saute pan, heat oil over medium heat; cook chicken, turning once, for 15 to 20 minutes or until no longer pink inside.
Transfer to plate and keep warm.
Meanwhile, peel and pit peaches; cut into wedges.
Add onion, garlic and reserved flour mixture to skillet; cook, stirring for 3 minutes.
Pour in stock and lemon juice; bring to boil, stirring to scrape up any brown bits from bottom of pan.
Add peaches; reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring for 3 minutes.
Stir in basil and remaining salt and pepper.
Pour over chicken to serve.

Dessert

Summer Berry Crisp

Ingredients

  • 1/2  cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
  • 2  tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1  tablespoon finely shredded orange peel
  • 2  teaspoons finely shredded lemon peel
  • 6  cups assorted fresh berries (such as blueberries, blackberries, hulled strawberries or raspberries)
  • 2  tablespoons orange juice
  • 1  tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3/4  cup unbleached all-purpose flour or whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2  cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2  teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4  teaspoon salt
  • 6  tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/2  cup regular rolled oats
  • 1 cup frozen yogurt

Directions

Preheat oven to 375°F. In a large bowl combine ½ cup granulated sugar, cornstarch, orange peel and lemon peel. Add berries, orange juice and lemon juice; toss gently to combine. Transfer to a 2-quart baking dish. Set aside.

In a medium bowl combine flour, brown sugar, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, allspice and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in oats. Sprinkle over fruit mixture in dish.

Bake, uncovered, for 40 to 45 minutes or until top is golden brown and juices are bubbly in the center of the dish. Cool slightly and serve warm with a spoonful of frozen yogurt, if desired. Makes 8 to 10 servings.



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