Tropical recipes for spring
Fort Wayne, Indiana (May 7, 2010) — Spring is here – and cooking and eating utilizing the bounty of the season is first and foremost in our minds. These healthy easy recipes highlight fresh fruits and vegetables with tropical flavors infusing each dish. The menu is perfect for a fun family dinner or for a special evening to entertain friends. And since much of this meal can be prepared ahead, you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the evening. Bon Appétit!
Think healthy, keep it simple and enjoy the bounty of the season. Be sure to stop back every season for new healthy ideas to add to your recipe collection. I am already working on summer and have some delicious ideas to share with you.
About our featured chef: Nan Yablong has embraced the Vera Bradley Foundation as her special cause because she lost her mother to cancer 22 years ago. She has enthusiastically served on almost every committee in her eleven years as a Classic volunteer. As a graduate of LaRivage French Cooking School in Dartmouth, MA, with a passion for both cooking and baking, she was the perfect choice to help us develop healthy and delicious cancer-fighting recipes.
Mango Smoothie with Raspberry Swirl (Serves 4)
- 2 ripe mangoes, peeled and seeded, pulp removed
- 8 - 10 ice cubes
- 1 ounce vanilla protein powder (optional)
- 2 ounces raspberries
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- In blender pulse raspberries and lemon juice, strain through fine sieve to remove seeds. Pour the raspberry puree into a squeeze bottle, squirt a stream on to the sides of each large glass.
- In blender, puree mango, ice cubes and optional protein powder. Pour into glasses. Serve immediately.
Note: This refreshing smoothie is brimming with antioxidants and vitamin C. Add the protein powder for a healthy, filling meal or snack on the go.
Asparagus with Shallot Lemon Sauce (Serves 4)
- 1 lb. fresh asparagus, trimmed
- 4 shallots, sliced into rings
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- 1/3 cup sliced almonds
- Prepare asparagus, place in casserole dish with enough water to barely cover, steam in the microwave for about 4 minutes or so until asparagus is al dente. Drain and plunge into a bowl of ice water to preserve the bright green color. Drain and remove to serving platter.
- In the meantime, add one tablespoon of butter and the one tablespoon of olive oil to a large sauté pan, heat over medium high until sizzling, add prepared shallots and sauté until the rings begin to carmelize.
- Remove the shallots and add to the asparagus platter, distributing evenly.
- Add lemon juice to pan maintaining medium high heat. Deglaze and scrape bits from bottom of pan as it simmers. Whisk in the remaining butter until blended well.
- Sprinkle the lemon zest over the top of the asparagus and shallots, drizzle with the sauce and garnish with the almond slices. Serve immediately.
Note: Fresh asparagus is in season by mid April. A good source of essential nutrients, like folate and potassium, asparagus is low in sodium as well.
Tropical Fiesta Shrimp (Serves 4)
- 1 1/2 pound large cooked shrimp with tails
- 2 Tablespoons jerk spice blend
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 4 ounces fresh pineapple, finely diced
- 4 green onions, sliced
- 1/2 cup each red and yellow sweet pepper, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 mango, finely diced
- 2 limes
- 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- Place shrimp in a large resealable plastic bag with the spice blend and olive oil. (This may be done the day before serving to allow flavors to meld).
- In preparation of serving, place shrimp in large open platter, evenly distribute prepared pineapple, green onions, peppers, mango and garlic over the top of the shrimp.
- Zest limes then squeeze juice. Sprinkle zest over ingredients and drizzle with the lime juice.
- Top with coconut flakes and serve.
Note: This dish is low in calories, but big on flavor, thanks to fresh fruits and vegetables. This plate can be served at room temperature and is a good choice for buffets Serve it over rice to turn it into a heartier meal. For testing purposes, we used a generic jerk spice blend, which is available in most supermarkets in the spice aisle.
Bananas Foster (Serves 4)
- Tablespoons butter
- 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
- 4 ripe bananas, bias-sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 cup rum, optional ½ teaspoon rum flavoring
- 1 pint premium vanilla ice cream or vanilla frozen yogurt
- In a skillet melt butter, stir in brown sugar until melted.
- Add bananas, cook and gently stir over medium heat about 2 minutes or until heated through.
- Sprinkle with cinnamon.
- In a small saucepan, heat rum until it almost simmers. Carefully ignite rum and pour over bananas, coating evenly. Serve immediately with small scoop premium vanilla ice cream.
Note: We’ve trimmed the fat by reducing the butter in this dish. Choosing frozen yogurt will lighten it even more. Of course, you can use a ½ teaspoon of Rum flavoring instead of the real thing for a non-alcoholic version of this classic dessert.