Food & Drink

All the flavor of pizza with little of the guilt

When my granddaughters first caught sight of the pre-lit evergreen in the living room, they paraphrased Goldilocks, saying "Why Grandmother, what a big Christmas tree you've got!" Even though it was but two days until Easter, it took some explaining that the decorations actually reflected the Vernal Equinox, Valentine's Day, Chinese New Year, and holidays yet to come.

Yoshiko Maeda, visiting from Japan, recognized it right away, and (even with limited English) identified it as a "season tree." The girls pitched right in and bedecked it with our heritage collection of Easter eggs and décor and totally got into the spirit.

Now it is in the last phase, and after Cinco de Mayo I will remove the chili pepper ornaments and lights, and relegate it to storage until December.

Toni Martinez has the joy of continuing the fun throughout the year, since she decorates the branches of a small lime tree. You should have seen her St. Patrick's display. And my friend and neighbor Jean Chinnici keeps us entertained with a year-round rotation of banners and seasonal displays in her street-level window. I will be content with banners from now on.

Lately, I have been recommending an informative Web site which includes the lowdown on calories and nutrition (or lack of it) in everyday fast foods and meals, but also runs lightened-up tasty recipes, complete with Weight Watchers points. My daughter, as well as Newsweek Magazine, recommended this to me; so go to www.hungry-girl.com and begin the easy process to subscribe to the free site.

Just about the time I was tempted to indulge in a calorie-laden Seven Layer Taco Salad next Saturday, here came another girl after my own heart.

Vicki Clift of Cambria submitted this flavorful recipe which she developed "to satisfy my family's pizza cravings without the guilt. It's a big hit with everyone who tries it!" I can attest to that!

Pizza Salad Dressing:1 8-oz. can tomato sauce1/2 cup non-fat chicken broth1/4 cup white wine vinegar1 tsp. Italian seasoning1 tsp. sugar1 tsp. salt1 tsp. garlic powder1/4 tsp. pepper

Combine all ingredients in an airtight container and shake; chill at least one hour, or until ready to serve the salad.

Salad:1 medium head romaine, or other leafy green lettuce (about 6 cups)2 medium tomatoes, chopped1 bell pepper, chopped1 4-oz. can sliced black olives, drained1 tbsp. snipped chives, or green onions4 oz. reduced-fat sliced salami or pepperoni (cut in 1-1/2 inch strips)1 cup reduced-fat mozzarella cheese, grated1 cup reduced-fat cheddar cheese, grated1 cup fat-free croutonsFreshly-grated Parmesan or Romano cheese for topping

In a large bowl, combine salad ingredients and toss. Shake chilled dressing and pour some over the salad. Toss to coat. Divide salad among four plates; serve with remaining dressing and Parmesan or Romano cheese. Makes four main-dish servings. (Chef¹s Notes: Splenda and low-sodium tomato sauce and chicken broth also helped to lighten this up.) Daughter Kathy also turned me on to another substitute for our favorite: she found low-fat bleu cheese at Food4Less. There is absolutely no loss in the unique flavor.

Please let us know what appeals to you. Share your recipes with Consuelo, c/o The Cambrian, 2442 Main St., Cambria CA 93428; or e-mail to cam brian@thetribunenews.com.

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