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Archive for August, 2011

Recently my ukulele friends and I ate at Technique, the resturant of Le Cordon Bleu Institute of Culinary Arts in Downtown Pittsburgh. The experience was truly memorable—the food was delicious and service was excellent. The ambiance was dream-like: soft colors, white tablecloths, white napkins, and white china. Gentle music served as the accompaniment to soft melodic conversations. Each course was beautifully presented. The wait staff was very professional, courteous, and attentive. Sorbet was served to cleanse our palate between courses. A three course lunch of appetizer, main course, and dessert was ten dollars with no tipping! My friends and I left Technique with the impression that this was the new standard for fine dining.

A few of us in the group ordered avocado soup as our appetizer. As soon as a spoonful of this soup touched our lips, we knew we wanted the recipe. It was refreshing and light, yet full-bodied. It’s savoriness was actually sweet from all the inherent flavor of each vegetable. It was crunchy, yet smooth at the same time. We asked for the recipe but was only given a list of ingredients—no proportions. Each of us looked at the list and remarked, “The secret ingredient is missing. There’s more to this soup.”

After making this soup about four times, I was able to figure out the secret ingredient!

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The heat has been intense this summer. The best time to be out is in the early morning when the grass catches the dew, the air is fresh, and the summer flowers are standing tall.

The meals I’ve been preparing have been light and fresh— plenty of cold soups, salads, fresh fruits, and some protein. A light dessert, such as a slice of raw cherry pie is the perfect complement to a light lunch or dinner on a hot day.

The best thing about this dessert is that there’s almost no cooking involved!

There are no added sweeteners, just the sweetness from the cherries and the dates in the crust.

Since this pie is made with cherries, it is high in the phytonutrient—anthocyanidins. These phytonutrients help hold our skin together—meaning less wrinkles! George Mateljan’s article, “Can You Tell Me Which Foods Promote Collagen?” lists the berries that contain anthocyanidins and its effects on collagen:

The anthocyanidins found in deep-colored, red-blue berries and fruits (including cherries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries) have been shown to work in a somewhat different way. These phytonutrients help the collagen fibers link together in a way that strengthens the connective tissue matrix.

He also states in “Boosting Your Polyphenols” that cherries and other berries are high in polyphenols, a nutrient that has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer health benefits:

In the fruit group, dark plums, cherries, dark grapes, and apples were found to be the most concentrated sources of polyphenols followed by berries. (Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and cranberries were included in the group of berries that were analyzed.) Among the vegetables, rhubarb and red cabbage were standouts for total polyphenol content.

Another bonus to this cherry pie is the nutrient-dense crust made with walnuts, dates, and shredded coconut.

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One of my favorite treats as a child was oranges. There’s been a family legend that’s floated around for decades by my mom—”Whenever you cried, we’d give you an orange. You would sit ever so content and eat that orange, skin and all. And then you’d want another one”.

Well, to this day one of my favorite fruits is oranges. I could envision my husband and daughter drinking the orange juice or eating the orange, or some orange zest, but the whole orange peel? No way!!!  To share my love for orange peel with my family, I had to think of a way to make an offer they couldn’t refuse—I sweetened the peel and dipped them in chocolate!!! Now how can anyone resist something sweet with chocolate. Dark chocolate!

Besides, I didn’t have the heart to throw out something organic!

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