Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Have a heart and serve quick-to-fix healthy treats

(ARA) - Your loved ones will feel the love this Valentine's Day when you serve up dazzling dishes that delight the taste buds and promote happy, healthy hearts.

Bright, colorful fresh fruits bursting with delicious juicy flavors are sweet treats you can offer your family right now. Thanks to an abundant supply of fresh fruit from Chile, where it's summer, you can enjoy all your favorite fruits all winter long.

Fresh fruits sliced as toppings for a very yummy dessert pizza or fresh blueberries scattered like sparkling jewels in a main course salad turn a meal into a true celebration of the heart.

"In addition to providing a healthy bounty of antioxidants - which are proven to prevent cellular aging and offer protection against memory loss, stroke and several types of cancer - blueberries also lower the risk of heart disease," says Dr. Steven Pratt, a noted nutrition expert and author of the book "SuperFoodsRx."

Numerous studies have shown that the fiber in fruits can lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease and obesity. More recent evidence has found that special nutritional compounds present in fruits provide additional protection from heart disease. Plus, they may also help prevent cancer, Alzheimer's disease and age-related loss of vision.

Ironically, even with all the new scientific evidence available, the vast majority of Americans still haven't been getting enough fruit and vegetables to eat, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That's probably because in the past there wasn't much variety to choose from during the long winter months. But now with the availability of fresh fruits all year round, it's easier than ever to enrich your family's diet with natural healthfulness found in fruit.

Plus, with fresh ripe fruit at the ready, these dishes go together in a snap. No thawing or cooking needed. Just rinse and slice the tasty fruit, toss in those delectable blueberries and go.

Fresh Fruit Pizza
Serves 4

2 8- to 9-inch tortillas, preferably whole wheat
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup mascarpone or cream cheese
2 1/2 cups thinly sliced fresh Chilean fruit including nectarines, plums, kiwi and blueberries
1/4 cup apricot jam, melted

Preheat oven to 350 F. Sprinkle tortillas with sugar and cinnamon; place on baking sheet and bake until crisp, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven; cool. Spread with cheese, leaving a 1-inch border around the edge. Arrange fruit on the cheese. Brush with jam to create a glossy finish. To serve, use a large knife to cut pizzas into quarters and serve immediately.

Salmon, Fresh Blueberries and Lemon Salad with Chive Vinaigrette
Serves 4

8 cups salad greens in small pieces
1 pound salmon fillet, poached
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
Lemon zest to garnish
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fresh chives

Divide salad greens on four salad plates. Divide salmon and arrange on greens. Sprinkle on blueberries. Top with lemon zest. In a jar with a lid, add all the vinaigrette ingredients. Shake well. Serve salads chilled with the dressing alongside.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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