Posts tagged lemon

Finals edition #1: fruit

 

It’s that time of year again, and as finals dreadfully dawn in Storrs, I’m bringing you a week’s worth of “brain food” to get you awake and motivated.  Most of rely on endless cups of coffee to get us through the week (I’m probably the guiltiest of all).  And when it comes to food for the week- that is, if we remember to eat, it’s usually grabbing a snack on the go between an exam and the library.  There are a few healthy options at the library (go for the yogurt parfait, or a protein bar over the candy or chips), but if you have the chance to eat at your place or at least make something to bring with you to the library, DO SO!  According to a post from Healthy Eats on the Food Network site, eating better can improve your academic performance immensely:

“High-fat packaged snacks, fried foods and other calorie-laden choices (late-night pizza run, anyone?) are tempting, but these foods will only fill you up (too much) and slow you down. You’ll feel sleepy, especially if you indulge towards the end of the day. In fact, a new study suggests that fatty foods can bog down your short-term memory — no good if you’re in the middle of exams or a big project.”

With that in mind, check back throughout the weak to read my latest post of finals edition.  In addition to an easy recipe, I’ll throw in a snack suggestion you can buy at the store if you don’t have any time to cook.  Best of luck to everyone on exams!

Brain food #1: Fruit (in particular, berries)

The antioxidants in berries has been proven to improve short-term memory (hello flash cards), plus they’re really healthy for your diet.  They’re very versatile and you can throw them in anything from cereal to smoothies, or enjoy them on their own.  Fruit also lends itself beautifully to yogurt (see my parfait recipe).  Warning: they are on the expensive side of the scale when it comes to grocery shopping; however, a little goes a long way when you use them the right way.  One way to do so is to mix them in a quick and easy fruit salad.

You’ll need:

  • Whatever fruit you want to use really, but consider the facts about berries and maybe this week opt for the blueberries, strawberries and raspberries: a winning combo.  I also threw in one of my favorite fruit, pineapple, but grapes,blackberries or peaches are other good choices.  Unless you’re serving for a lot of people, only buy a pack of each kind, since they’re pretty pricey especially since it’s not quite season yet for most of these berries yet.  
  • The juice of one lemon, to kick up the flavor

Now, you can leave it as is and enjoy the fruit the natural way (the healthier option), but I hear a lot of people complain about fruit (it’s too boring on its own, not tasty enough), so if you’d like make my poppyseed dressing, or throw these items together to drizzle over the salad:

  • A dash of sugar (don’t overdo it, the fruit already has natural sugar)
  • A dash of poppy seeds (not vital- I just had them in my cabinet)
  • About 1/2 teaspoon of white vinegar
  • About 1 teaspoon of honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • A dash of cinnamon powder
  • A dash of salt

Directions:

  1. Rinse and drain all the fruit and put it all in a bowl.
  2. Stir it all together then top with lemon juice, squeezing the lemon right over the salad, facing the lemon up so you don’t drop any of the seeds in.  Stir again.
  3. Leave it here if you want to enjoy the fruit on its own.  Otherwise mix all the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and stir thoroughly, making sure the thickness of the honey dissolves into the oil and vinegar.
  4. Drizzle the dressing over the bowl and stir the fruit together again, making sure you get every corner.  If you want to, drain the salad again for just a second to get the excess dressing out before putting back in the bowl.
  5. Store the salad in the fridge since it tastes better cold, and enjoy it by itself, or with yogurt in a parfait.

Here’s a step-by-step:

rinse and drain all the fruit

 

Stir all the fruit together and squeeze a fresh lemon over the salad

 

Prepare the dressing, stirring thoroughly

 

Drizzle the dressing over the salad and stir again

 

The Food Network has an entire collection of fruit salad recipes.  Here’s some of the best:

Paula Deen’s fruit salad (Paula Deen makes a healthy dish??) with honey dressing: the orange juice adds a nice touch

Grilled fruit salad from Sunny Anderson: a unique twist

A fruit salad made on Barefoot Contessa featuring all those healthy berries

Snack suggestion:

Pretzels with hummus.  Healthy carbs are our brain’s primary energy source.  Go for the whole-wheat pretzels since they’re also a good source of fiber.  Flavor it up with a low-fat hummus of your choice.  My advice is to dish yourself a big spoonful of hummus and a handful of pretzels, then put the stuff away, this snack can be very addicting!  Got the time? Try my hummus recipe.

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The chocolate bunny days are over; Introducing your new Easter dessert

Easter means two things.  One, it’s my favorite dinner of all the holidays, including Thanksgiving [insert gasp here].  And two, I head home for the weekend to relax with the family.  This Easter, it’s just me and Mom, so we spent one evening preparing a dessert fueled by the recent warm weather and the quickly approaching spring season.  It’s a lemon filled pasty topped with fresh strawberries that’s super easy, and pretty light.  For this recipe, we’re using store-bought items, since making pastries by hand take a while and you’ll end up spending more money (yuck!); plus they taste just as good in this case, so we’re going to let it slide.  Sharing the kitchen with Mom is always an experience; one that usually consists of her taking off halfway through then returning to eat whatever was made.  But she did buy the ingredients this time around, so credit goes where credit’s due.  The good thing about this dessert is that you can make as much or as little as you’d like.  All you have to do is stick as many pastries in the oven as desired, and save the leftover filling for other uses (or for a midnight snack).  

You’ll need:

  • Puff pastry shells.  Pepperidge Farm makes good ones that you can find in the freezer section at the grocery store.  They come in boxes of six.  Make sure you get the shells and not the sheets!
  • One package (serving size=4) of Jello instant pudding, lemon flavored
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • half a tub of Cool Whip (8 oz)
  • Fresh strawberries: about 4 or 5, slices thinly (see pictures)

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees
  2. Take out the pastries and unwrap them before placing them on a cookie sheet
  3. Once the oven is preheated, place the pastries in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until they’re golden brown and risen.  If you read the directions on the pastry packaging, I know it sounds a little confusing, but the flat-looking discs really will rise into shells, trust me!
  4. While the pastries are in the oven, prepare the lemon pudding as directed on the packaging.  This is where you’ll need to add the milk and cool whip then whisk everything together until the mixture is thick and creamy.
  5. Put the pudding in the fridge right away, so the filling gets cold and thickens more.
  6. When the pastries are done, let them cool for at least 15 minutes.  They need to be completely cooled before you cut the tops and add the filling.
  7. This is the trickiest part: with a knife, cut out the middle of the puff pasty and the top (a circle shape).  Be careful, they’re very flaky and fragile.
  8. Now they’re ready for the lemon filling, so carefully pour a couple spoonfuls into each pastry without over-filling them.
  9. On top of each, place two strawberry slices for a tasty garnish (see picture).

And you’re ready to serve your delicious dessert, just in time for the holiday (or any spring occasion)!

Check out these Easter dessert recipes:

You knew it was coming: Easter dessert galore from the Food Network

Easter desserts from AllRecipes.com

Eight egg-shaped Easter desserts (yes, they’re all actually egg-shaped) from Woman’sDay.com

Here’s the visual step-by-step:

Pre-heat your oven and unwrap the pastry shells, putting them on an ungreased cookie sheet with the “tops” up:

While those are in the oven, prepare the pudding as directed:

And slice the strawberries:

Let the pastry shells cook for 20-25 minutes, until they’re golden brown and fully risen:

Let them cool fully, then cut out the tops and middles of each shell (carefully!):

After they’ve cooled completely, add the filling and top with fresh strawberries.  Now you’re ready to serve!

Let’s compare the finished products.  You saw mine above, and here’s Mom’s:  Let’s be serious, the winner is clear.

Haha sorry Mom, I had to…

Happy Easter from our family to yours; enjoy 🙂

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