Healthy Cook: Awareness is served

Pink is the color of the day— every day in October— to raise awareness of breast cancer. National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in the United States started in 1985. The original aim was to increase early detection of breast cancer by encouraging women to have mammograms. The pink ribbon, which had been used to symbolize breast cancer, was chosen as the symbol for awareness in 1993.

Pink has gone far past lapel pins. Many famous buildings and landmarks have been covered in pink light for this event: Sydney’s Harbour Bridge, Japan’s Tokyo Tower, and Canada’s Niagara Falls, for instance. You can make your friends and family aware of the significance of the month by serving appropriate food. A pink party would be a wonderful way to bring the campaign front and center.

You can’t get much easier than this quick borsht. The recipe is from a cookbook put out by the Marie Curie Sklodowska Association in Canada in 1982:

Quick Beet Barszcz

  • 1 10-ounce can consommé
  • 1 14-ounce can beets, sliced and juice
  • 4 tablespoons sour cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Blend the consommé and beets with juice well. Heat thoroughly and serve topped with sour cream. Yields 3 to 4 servings.

Just about anything with beets will turn pink. Add a few sliced or diced cooked beets to your favorite potato salad recipe.

Raspberries are tasty little pieces of pink. Freeze a half cup or so and when they are hard smack the bag on a counter and the tiny seeds separate. Fold them into vanilla ice cream and top with chocolate sauce.

Pink smoothies are simple, healthy, and quick to make. Start with a banana (fresh or frozen), add yogurt and milk and blend that. Now toss in strawberries or raspberries. We use a cup or so for two smoothies. Blend that together and add a little vanilla and pinch of cinnamon. A grown-up nephew pronounced our smoothies the best he has ever had. That might be because they are not made with a lot of ice and a small amount of fruit. You can turn one into a milk shake by adding a scoop or two of strawberry or cherry ice cream.

How about a pink cake for a snazzy dessert with a message? Start with a white cake mix. Add a little red food coloring to the batter. Just before pouring it into the cake pan, stir in chopped red cherries. Ice it with white buttercream and garnish it with shredded coconut you have tossed with a drop or two of red food coloring.

A popular pancake chain advertised red velvet cake pancakes a while back. Sounds gross for breakfast but not so bad for dessert. Red velvet cake is really a chocolate cake with a big bunch of red food color. So leave the chocolate out of the pancake batter and, instead, punch the cakes up with strawberries. Melt a couple of tablespoons of red jam or jelly and stir that into the mix. Use red syrup instead of maple.

Chicken and tuna salads are staples for lunch. A few finely chopped strawberries will put in a pink tinge. A few cashews, walnuts or sunflower seeds add texture, too.

You don’t see many red pickles, but a few ingredients and a few minutes will give you pickled onions to top burgers or salads. You need a half cup of apple cider vinegar, one tablespoon sugar (try light brown), one teaspoon kosher salt, one cup water, and one red onion, thinly sliced.

Whisk vinegar, sugar, salt, and water until salt and sugar are dissolved. Put the onion in a jar and pour the liquid over. Let it marinate at least an hour. You can make these a day or two ahead.

This recipe for a frozen dessert is a favorite of mine and I have shared it here before, but it’s pink and bears repeating now: Freeze red or pink berries, dark cherries, or seedless watermelon. Freeze milk or cream in ice cube trays. Mix equal amounts of fruit and milk in a processor. Add a touch of sugar if the fruit is tart. Process until it is smooth. You’re done.

Old fashioned butter icing is made special with red fruit juice. Use it to cover cookies from a mix or out of the supermarket cold case. This is where the kids get into the act and learn at a young age what the month is about and why it’s important to all of us.


story by TRENT ROWE, Food Editor

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