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Delish: Just Four Ingredients Fast!

"Just Four Ingredients Fast!"What if every recipe could have just four ingredients?

It could happen for those consulting the recipes in “Just Four Ingredients Fast!” from the editors of Delish magazine. Easy options cover breakfast through dessert with lots of salads, a few soups, blended juices or smoothies, and many imaginative entrees included.

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With four-ingredient recipes, feeling full can go beyond the food 

A four-ingredient wrap has turkey, cranberry sauce and watercress in a whole-wheat tortilla. You won’t be cheating if you add a slice of your favorite cheese. Sliced brie is used here. (Image courtesy of Delish)A whole wheat tortilla spread with cranberry sauce, topped with shaved turkey breast and rolled up with a few sprigs of peppery watercress would make a tasty meal.


But the picture of that wrap, shown left from the cookbook “Just Four Ingredients Fast!” (Hearst, $14.95), communicates more than the idea of a deliciously quick lunch. Cinched with a cut of gingham plaid and tied with pink ribbon, it is a perfect presentation for lunch served to a good friend or tucked into a sweet daughter’s lunchbox.


But what if you wrapped up the sandwich and made it pretty just for you?


We often lavish such special treatment on our mates, friends and children as a demonstration of our love for them. But I wonder: How would the experience of eating the sandwich change if we dressed it with that level of detail as an expression of self-love?


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Apple-ginger cream cheese recipe

Cream cheese-based dips are delicious with fruits, such as the Caramel Apple Dip shown, or made with fruit as with our apple-ginger cream cheese dip below. Photo courtesy of Kraft Foods; click on it to get the recipe. Cream cheese is such a versatile ingredient.

Just like butter, it can be spread on breads, or it can be baked in them. Melt it down to make easy sauces, or blend it with other ingredients for delicious dips, as we did below. 

The best thing about cream cheese, however, is that it comes in fat-free, reduced-fat and regular versions. That means it's great for experimenting according to your need for less fat or maximum richness.

 We made the recipe below with fat-free Philadelphia cream cheese to test its flavor making the dip with the lowest calorie count possible. The result was a pleasing apple dip that was great with pretzels and crackers. Because of the juiciness of the apples, it's more dip-like in texture, but not so wet that we couldn't spread it on toast. It was great that way, too.

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Reduced-fat cheesecake recipe: Hass avocado cheesecake bites updated 

Avocado cheesecake bites have a shortbread cookie and pistachio crust. Click on the image to get the original recipe from the Hass Avocado Board.The recipe for Avocado Cheesecake Bites with Pistachio-Shortbread Crust is an indulgent one using whipping cream, a full pound of cream cheese and full-fat yogurt.

It is easy to lighten the Hass Avocado Board recipe without losing the creamy satisfying flavor. Simply switch to non-fat or reduced-fat dairy products.  For an even lighter cheesecake treat, use traditional graham crackers in place of shortbread for the crust.

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Quinoa Revolution: Apple-cabbage salad with quinoa sprouts

A salad of red cabbage, apples, carrots and sprouted quinoa is among beauty shots in the "Quinoa Revolution" cookbook. Photo by Ryan Szule

The suggestion that we strive to fill our plates with color, might be one of the most beneficial nutritional suggestions of the last few years. The goal of this advice is to give us an easy way to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, and with them a wide variety of nutrients. 

I'm convinced, though, that when the color on our plates is also beautifully presented, it somehow nourishes us psychologically as well.

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