No matter what variety of fruit preserve you choose–orange marmalade, strawberry, apricot, mixed berry, peach, raspberry-cranberry, or even boysenberry–the low-sugar varieties can be a healthy cook’s BFF in the kitchen, with just about 8 calories and 1 gram of sugar per teaspoon. Here’s how to liven up a variety of meals, far beyond toasted bread.
1. Salad Dressings and Vinaigrette: Combine in a blender: 1/2 cup preserves (any variety), 1/4 cup fresh chives or shallots, 2 to 3 tablespoons cider vinegar or fresh lemon juice, and 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil; puree until blended; add water or vegetable broth to reach desired consistency; season to taste with salt and pepper.
2. Marinades: Combine preserves and fresh lemon or lime juice or balsamic vinegar and use as a marinade for chicken, pork and shrimp.
3. Muffins and Quick Breads: Add 1/3 to 1/2 cup preserves to muffin and quick bread recipes for added flavor and moisture (no need to alter other ingredients).
4. Cracker Spread: Blend with equal parts light cream cheese and spread on whole grain crackers or bruschetta.
5. Stir-Fries: Combine 1/2 cup preserves (any variety), 2 to 3 tablespoons soy sauce or hoisin sauce and 2 tablespoons mirin or rice wine; add the mixture to stir fries for the last minute of cooking.
6. Breakfast Syrup: Heat until warm and drizzle over pancakes, waffles and scones. For a fruit-filled version, add fresh fruit to the warm preserves just before serving (add raspberries to raspberry preserves, strawberries to strawberry preserves, etc.).
7. Dessert Glaze: Heat until warm, strain out solids and drizzle over frozen yogurt or use as a glaze for fruit tarts.
8. Smoothies: Excellent option when fresh fruit isn’t available: Puree in a blender low-fat yogurt, preserves and a little fresh lemon, lime or orange juice.
9. Sandwich Spread: Blend with equal parts spreadable goat cheese and use as a sandwich spread with smoked ham and turkey. Fabulous in panini (pressed sandwiches) too.
10. Better Braising: After searing chicken, turkey tenderloin, pork loin chops, steak, and meatballs, add 1/4 to 1/3 cup preserves to the braising liquid (broth) and simmer until ready to serve.
11. Wonton Tostadas: Arrange wonton wrappers on a baking sheet and coat with cooking spray; bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes, until lightly toasted. Arrange on a platter, top with preserves, fresh fruit and powdered sugar or light whipped cream.
12. Angel Food Napoleon: Spread preserves between 3 to 4 thin layers of sliced angel food cake to create a napoleon with 3 to 4 layers.
13. Icing on the Cake: Blend with light cream cheese to create unique icings for carrot cake and other cakes, such as banana and zucchini.
14. Pinwheel Sushi: Spread nut butter (peanut, almond) on a whole grain tortilla, top with preserves and whole grain cereal or granola; roll up and slice crosswise into pinwheels.
15. Better Curry: Combine 1/2 cup chicken broth, 1/2 cup preserves (such as orange marmalade or peach preserves), 1/2 cup curry paste, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder; use as the braising liquid for seared chicken, pork, steak, and shrimp; garnish with chopped fresh cilantro.
Robin Miller is host of Quick Fix Meals, a nutritionist and author of 10 cookbooks, including “Robin Takes 5” and “Robin Takes 5 for Busy Families.” She is the busy mom of two active boys. Her boys and great food are her passion. Check her out at www.robinmillercooks.com.