Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Flavorful, Budget-friendly Fun Foods

(ARA) – With the economy affecting your budget, your family is staying home for more meals. So it’s more important than ever to get the most for your dollar when shopping for healthy foods at the grocery store.

Besides eating healthy, you want to provide a variety of food choices to keep mealtimes interesting and flavorful. Here are three items you can add to your grocery list:

1. Kiwifruit.
During the months when finding American-grown fresh fruit is a chore, look for California-grown kiwifruit, typically available between mid-September and June. Buying fruit grown in America supports our domestic economy and is better for the environment since shipping requires fewer resources. Plus, you know you're getting fresher fruit.

A Rutgers University study found that of the 27 most commonly consumed fruits, kiwifruit is the most nutrient-dense, containing vitamin C, potassium, folate, fiber and vitamin E, to name a few. Plus kiwifruit is very versatile. It can be eaten raw, sliced up on top of foods, blended into drinks and salsas or tossed into salads.

2. Rolled oats.
Yummy for both breakfast and in cookies, oats are full of fiber and complex carbohydrates. The grain has been linked to lowering bad cholesterol and reducing the chance of heart disease. Buying plain oats in bulk costs less per serving than buying most other cereals.

3. Wild Rice.
Wild rice not only is native to the U.S., but is also rich in protein and a good source of calcium and potassium. Plus, it's an energy food high in carbohydrates and fiber, helping to balance out your healthy meals. Wild rice can be served cold or hot and mixed with nuts, vegetables and all kinds of meat.

Saving money and eating healthy will benefit not only your family but your wallet. California Kiwifruit Commission has several recipes available for your family to try including Kiwi Mint Lemonade -- perfect for a warm afternoon on the porch, and Mediterranean Kiwifruit Couscous -- which compliments any lunch or dinner menu.

Kiwifruit Mint Lemonade
Serves 4

1 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed fresh mint leaves
3 California kiwifruit
2 to 3 lemons
Sparkling water

In a medium saucepan, heat water with sugar over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until sugar is dissolved. Simmer, uncovered, for five minutes. Remove from heat and stir in mint leaves. Let stand 20 minutes

Meanwhile, peel kiwifruit and cut into chunks. Puree in a food processor. Place puree in a pitcher. Strain cooled syrup into pitcher, pressing on mint, then discard leaves. Refrigerate until cold. Squeeze juice from 2 lemons. Stir into kiwifruit mixture. Taste, squeeze in juice from remaining lemon for a more tart lemonade.

Pour into glasses. Top with sparkling water. Serve garnished with a slice of kiwifruit.

Mediterranean Kiwifruit Couscous
Serves 4 to 6

3/4 cup water
1/2 cup couscous
3 California kiwifruit
1 yellow or orange pepper
1 cup colorful cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup Kalamata olives, preferably spicy
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup shredded fresh basil

In a small saucepan, lightly salt water then bring to a boil. Add couscous, stir, cover and remove from heat. Let stand until water is absorbed, about five minutes. Meanwhile, peel kiwifruit and cut into bite-size chunks. Dice pepper and slice large cherry tomatoes in half. Pit olives if needed and thinly slice green onions. Place all in a medium bowl.

Whisk vinegar with oil, garlic, oregano and generous pinches salt and pepper. When couscous has cooled, gently stir with kiwifruit mixture. Toss with as much dressing as needed to just coat. Stir in feta and basil. Salad will keep well refrigerated for one to two days.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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