August 3, 2011

Natural Foodie: Can't take it with you? With this salad recipe, you can

By Avery Yale Kamila akamila@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

As a mother of two, a grandmother of four and a former sixth-grade teacher, Vesta Rand knows how to get kids excited about food. As an avid walker, she also knows what it takes to create portable eats.

click image to enlarge

Vesta Rand stuffs a cored apple with a mixture of peanut butter, dried fruit, nuts and seeds in her Yarmouth kitchen for her prize-winning Mackworth Island Walking Salad.

Photos by Avery Yale Kamila/Staff Writer

20 YEARS OF HAPPY TRAILS

THE NONPROFIT land trust maintains 31 trails in Portland, Falmouth and Westbrook. The longest trail is the newly opened, 10-mile Forest City Trail. This trail would be ideal for a walking salad, as it takes six to seven hours to hike its full length.

PORTLAND TRAILS held the Trail Gourmet contest this year in celebration of its 20th anniversary. It hasn’t been confirmed yet, but there is a good chance the nonprofit will hold the contest again next year. Should you have a portable and nutritious recipe to enter, check www.trails.org in spring 2012 or call 775-2411.

So it's hardly a surprise that her entry for Portland Trails' first Trail Gourmet contest took top honors.

Rand's Mackworth Island Walking Salad combines portability, ease of preparation, healthful ingredients and excellent flavor.

"We looked at taste, convenience and calories you need on a hike," said Rachael Weyand, outreach manager for Portland Trails. "We also looked for something that would travel well, which is one of the reasons Vesta's recipe was a winner."

I recently visited Rand at her charming farmhouse in Yarmouth, where she showed me how to prepare the winning recipe.

The Walking Salad is an on-the-go dish Rand's been making for years by mixing together peanut butter, dried fruit, nuts and seeds and stuffing this mixture inside a cored apple. Chocolate chips or banana chips pair well with the peanut butter, too.

With Maine's apple season just around the corner, it's the perfect time to add this recipe to your repertoire.

Rand explained that while peanut butter, fruits and nuts were her boys' favorite combination, there are endless variations on this theme.

For anyone with a peanut allergy, she might mix lemon hummus with dried blueberries, pine nuts and chopped celery. She also has used fresh fruit or chopped broccoli in combination with the hummus.

Cream cheese is another good stuffing material and can be combined with sweet ingredients such as dried or fresh fruits, or savory ingredients such as nuts, olives or crumbled turkey bacon.

Rand said that no matter what combination you use, if you have children, you should get them involved in the preparation.

"If you don't light that fire early, they'll never learn to cook," Rand said.

When she was a teacher, she and her students would prepare a walking salad each fall for recess.

Rand also used to make the "salad-on-the-move," as she likes to call it, with her boys when they were young. They would take the stuffed apples with them to Mackworth Island in Falmouth to walk the trail and build fairy houses.

Now she does the same with her grandchildren.

"Children love exploring," Rand said, "So encouraging their know-how of what the kitchen has to offer, along with an understanding of kitchen utensils and how they are used to create healthy, nutritious food fare, adds to their satisfaction of being a kitchen scientist."

And when you combine kitchen skills, healthful food and fresh air, you create a recipe for success.

VESTA RAND'S MACKWORTH ISLAND WALKING SALAD

One apple, cored

Peanut butter

Fruit-sweetened dried cranberries or cherries

Pecans, walnuts or almonds, chopped

Flax seeds, ground

Mix together peanut butter, fruit, nuts and seeds. Using a spoon or knife, stuff the center of the apple with the peanut butter mixture. Eat it fresh or take it to go by wrapping the apple in paper, tin foil or plastic.

 

Staff Writer Avery Yale Kamila can be contacted at 791-6297 or at: akamila@pressherald.com

Follow her on Twitter at: Twitter.com/AveryYaleKamila

 

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