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Dad's Got It Down!

June 15, 2006 By:
Ethel Hofman, JE Feature
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Like the rest of us, fathers are into healthy, nutritious foods - and that includes an increasing preference for organically produced items.

What is organic? Is it safer or more nutritious than conventionally produced food?

Here are some facts put in place by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. These national standards are for all foods labeled "organic," whether grown in the United States or imported from other countries.

Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources to enhance the environmental quality of the planet for future generations. Organic meats, poultry, eggs and dairy products come from animals that do not receive any antibiotics or growth hormones.

Most conventional pesticides are not used, nor are fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients, sewage sludge or ionizing radiation. Before a product may be labeled officially "organic," the farm is inspected by a government-approved certifier to be sure that all the rules needed to meet USDA organic standards are being strictly followed.

The USDA makes no claim that organically produced foods are safer or more nutritious than conventionally produced items. They only differ in the way they are grown and processed.

In markets, signs are posted on all organic items. The USDA Organic sticker on all 100 percent or 95 percent organic items is voluntary, though if a product is falsely labeled organic and a store knows that it does not meet USDA standards, it could be fined for each violation.

Several vineyards produce wines that are both kosher and organic. Frey Vineyards in California have produced an organic Petite Sirah that won Double Gold medals at the Florida State Fair International Wine competition. It claims their wines to be both organic and biodynamic - the latter adhering to standards generally stricter than organic standards.

The words "natural" and "organic" are not interchangeable. Claims such as free-range, hormone-free and natural may still appear on food labels, but they do not adhere to the organic standards set by USDA.

This Dad's Day, raise a glass to toast a safer environment and healthy living.

Minted Melon Bisque

(Dairy)

Use a light delicate honey, such as orange blossom or clover. Greek-style yogurt is thicker and milder than regular yogurt. One-quarter cup softened low-fat cream cheese and one-quarter cup of plain yogurt may be substituted.

8 cups cubed honeydew melon
1/2 cup Greek-style yogurt
3 Tbsps. sweet vermouth
10 mint leaves
3 Tbsps. honey or to taste

Place melon, yogurt, vermouth, mint leaves and honey in the food processor.

Process, pulsing, 25 to 30 seconds or until melon is puréed.

Add a little more honey, if desired.

Serve at room temperature.

Serves 4.

Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 208; protein, 3 g; carbohydrates, 48 g; fat, 1 g; cholesterol, 4 mg; sodium, 51 mg.

 

Toasted Triple-Cheese Sandwiches

(Dairy)

Do not remove bread crusts. Crusts have up to eight times the antioxidants as the bread's softer interior.

8 slices whole-wheat bread
11/2 Tbsps. prepared pesto
4 slices (each 1/8-inch thick) low-fat mozzarella cheese
4 slices (each 1/8-inch thick) low-sodium cheddar cheese
4 Tbsps. part-skim ricotta cheese
16 stems watercress
1/3 cup, plus 2 Tbsps., low-fat milk, divided
1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs
2 eggs

Preheat broiler. Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray.

Thinly spread one side of each bread slice with pesto.

On one slice, place a slice of mozzarella and a slice of cheddar. Spread 1 tablespoon of ricotta over top.

Top with four stems of watercress.

Cover with a remaining bread slice, pesto-side down. Press lightly. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Pour one-third cup milk and the breadcrumbs into separate shallow dishes. Dip the sandwiches into the milk, then into the breadcrumbs.

Arrange in a dish just large enough to hold the sandwiches in one layer. Set aside.

Whisk the eggs with remaining 2 tablespoons of milk. Pour over the sandwiches. Let stand for 10 minutes to soak.

Arrange sandwiches on prepared cookie sheet. Spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Place under broiler until pale golden. Watch carefully to avoid scorching. Flip over and toast until other side is golden.

Cool on a wire rack.

Serves 4.

Approximate nutrients per sandwich: calories, 432; protein, 26 g; carbohydrates, 34 g; fat, 23 g; cholesterol, 106 mg; sodium, 583 mg.

 

Egg-White Frittata With Salmon, Asparagus and Olives

(Pareve)

Wrap the skillet handle in foil if the frittata is to be finished under a broiler.

10 asparagus spears, trimmed and cut in 1-inch pieces
2 Tbsps. vegetable oil
8 egg whites, lightly beaten
salt and pepper to taste
11/2 cups cooked or canned flaked salmon
1/3 cup sliced black olives
2 Tbsps. chopped chives

Rinse asparagus. Place in a microwave dish and cover with paper towels. Microwave on high for 3 minutes.

Transfer to a colander. Rinse under cold water to stop cooking and to retain a bright-green color.

Heat oil in a medium nonstick skillet over high heat. Add the asparagus. Sauté for 2 minutes.

Pour egg whites over top; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium.

Using a spatula, carefully push cooked egg whites at edges toward center so uncooked mixture reaches the hot pan surface. Spread the salmon over top and sprinkle with olives. Cover.

Let stand until frittata is completely set or finish off under a preheated broiler. Watch closely to avoid scorching.

Garnish with chives. Cool.

Cut into 4 wedges and wrap in wax paper. Refrigerate.

Serves 4.

Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 209; protein, 20 g; carbohydrates, 4 g; fat, 12 g; cholesterol, 25 mg; sodium, 476 mg.

 

Caponata Casserole

(Pareve)

May be topped with a dollop of sour cream before serving, making this dairy.

4 Tbsps. vegetable oil, divided
2 baby eggplants, trimmed, unpeeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick
2 zucchini, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 green bell peppers, seeded and cut in strips
1 tsp. chopped garlic from a jar
3 medium tomatoes, cut in wedges
1 Tbsp. snipped fresh oregano or 1 tsp. dried
1/4 cup marinara sauce
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
sour cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil. Add the eggplant and zucchini.

Cook over medium-high heat until edges of zucchini are beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes.

Transfer to a 11/2-quart baking dish.

Add the remaining oil to the skillet (no need to wash). Heat over medium heat.

Add the onion, bell peppers and garlic. Sauté until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Spoon over the eggplant and zucchini. Top with the tomato wedges.

Sprinkle with oregano. Pour the marinara sauce over top, and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Stir to mix.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until bubbly at edges.

Serve cold or at room temperature with a dollop of sour cream (optional).

Serves 4 to 6.

Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 116; protein, 2 g; carbohydrates, 8 g; fat, 9 g; cholesterol, 0 mg; sodium, 55 mg.

 

Crimson Salad With Honey Dressing

(Pareve)

I tasted this crunchy, sweet salad at a party and persuaded my friend to part with the recipe. I've adapted it to use prepared fresh vegetables and dried cranberries.

Dressing:

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
11/2 Tbsps. honey, warmed
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Salad ingredients:

4 cup shredded cabbage
2 cups grated carrots
1 cup grated uncooked, fresh beets
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 Granny Smith apple, cored, seeded and diced

In a small bowl, whisk dressing ingredients to blend.

Set aside.

Place all salad ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk the dressing again and pour over top.

Toss gently to mix.

Serves 4 to 6.

Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 262; protein, 2 g; carbohydrates, 26 g; fat, 18 g; cholesterol, 0 mg; sodium, 54 mg.

 

Baked Pineapple-Peach Ambrosia

(Pareve)

1/2 medium pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
2 ripe peaches, pitted and cut in wedges or 1 can (15 oz.) sliced peaches, drained
1/2 cup pitted fresh or frozen cherries
1 Tbsp. grated ginger root
1 Tbsp. orange juice
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
3 Tbsps. light-brown sugar
4 pareve almond cookies
1/4 cup shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place the pineapple, peaches and cherries in a 11/2-quart baking dish. Stir in the ginger, juices and brown sugar. Arrange the cookies on top to cover.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until the mixture is bubbly at edges. If cookies are browning, cover loosely with aluminum foil.

Remove from the oven. Press cookies down into the hot fruit mixture. Sprinkle with coconut.

Serve chilled.

Serves 4.

Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 187; protein, 2 g; carbohydrates, 35 g; fat, 6 g; cholesterol, 4 mg; sodium, 46 mg.

Ethel G. Hofman is a cookbook author and a past president of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. Reach her at: www.kosherfoodconsultants. com.

 

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