By Marnie Record, workforce specialist, Value Added Local Foods program, LLCC
I recently discovered that ruining a beet can also be the best way to enhance chocolate.
My favorite chocolate cake recipes calls for cooked beets. Despite the rich, moistness of the end product, I almost never make the cake because it pains me to mask the delicious flavor of the sweet, earthy beet. Meanwhile, Steve, a colleague of mine at LLCC, responds to the suggestion of beet chocolate cake by asking, “Why would you ruin a perfectly good chocolate cake with beets?”
This reminded me that seeing our way to better health may mean not always knowing the secret ingredients or tricky methods used by chefs and home cooks to entice us to eat our vegetables, just as mom has been telling us since childhood.
Whether you are a health conscious eater looking for ways to increase nutrition and flavor of what you eat, or you know someone who would benefit from a well-meaning practical joke in their dinner, Celebrate April Fools’ Day this year by tapping your inner Wile E. Coyote and tricking you and your family to better health.
- Often skipped, but always critical, breakfast helps us maintain a steady level of energy and jump-starts our metabolism into burning calories. Smoothies can be an easy way to have a quick breakfast ready on the fly, or make a large batch on the weekend to carry you through the week. Load up on chlorophyll, fiber, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants by incorporating leafy greens into your smoothie and using ripe, in-season fruit to complement the bitter vegetable flavors. The fresher and riper the fruit, the more natural sweetness and better tasting, making it easy to forget you’re drinking kale. Or for extra plant protein, add a couple spoons full of beans.
- Pump up the nutritional value of baked goods such as pancakes, muffins, cookies, quick breads, and more by using a ratio of 60 percent all-purpose four to 40 percent whole wheat flour. King Arthur Flour published a cookbook called “Whole Grain Baking” full of recipes that incorporate whole grains into baking for home cooks. High fiber whole grains help us feel full longer while controlling blood sugar.
- Start with high quality ingredients to make healthy food more appetizing and enticing to eat. Fresh produce and meat harvested at their peak taste better than what gets gassed and shipped across the world. Cutting back on quantity will trim your waist and your wallet, and maybe free up some spending for better ingredients. Think of this concept for everything in your kitchen down to the salt. High quality salt not only has a higher mineral content, but also can also increase the flavor to a plate of vegetables. A good olive oil drizzled on top of a dish right before serving brightens and enhances the taste of the food.
- I’m definitely a dessert connoisseur with a high tolerance for sweet, but in the past several years I’ve been discovering some amazing treats that reduce or replace sugar with vegetables and other natural sweeteners. Digest Vitamins A and C and cancer preventing antioxidants by adding sweet potatoes and maple syrup to brownies. Raw desserts that typically use coconut and dates for a sweet taste combined with nuts and cacao are quickly becoming my new favorites.
- Top almost any meal – pasta, meat, fish, vegetables – with parsley or scallions and feed your soul’s craving for chlorophyll while adding flavor and visual appeal. Chlorophyll has a long list of health benefits including suppressing hunger, decreasing the healing time of wounds, and cleansing the body of chemicals present in our daily life.
Lincoln Land Community College offers credit programs in Value-Added Local Food, Culinary Arts, Hospitality Management, and Baking/Pastry, and non-credit cooking and food classes through our Community Learning Culinary Institute. For more information, visit our website at www.llcc.edu.