Easter is less than a hop, skip and a few days away. If you have yet to plan your menu, fret not. We've enlisted the help of award-winning author and chef, Angela Shelf Medearis B.K.A The Kitchen Diva to whip all of you last minute planners into top shape, literally. The author of 95 children's books and five bestselling cookbooks including "The New African American Kitchen" dispels rumors about Black cuisine and healthy eating. We caught up with the Kitchen Diva to talk about her meal plans for Easter Sunday and why she has no problem cooking in heels.
ESSENCE.COM: What's the main ingredient for a great Easter meal?
ANGELA MEDEARIS: If you want a fairly inexpensive, healthy, quick and easy Easter meal that looks like you've really outdone yourself, do a pork loin. A pork loin roast is fairly inexpensive and is much cheaper than any kind of lamb. It also creates a lot of servings and is a healthy source of protein. People spend a tremendous amount of money buying those pre-brined hams that have all the sugar incrusted on them.
ESSENCE.COM: How much preparation do you suggest one put into planning for the big day?
MEDEARIS:When you use a broiler, you can come home for Sunday dinner in your high heels because you're just not going to be on your feet that long. It's just that quick. I use the broiler for the entire meal: the pork loin; the vegetables; the fruit toppings to put on the pound cake. If you don't feel like making a pound cake, they have so many delectable lemon cakes that you could pick up. It might take you about an hour and a half tops to do the entire thing.
What easy and healthy twist can we put on our traditional Easter favorites?
MEDEARIS: A lot of times at Easter, people serve macaroni and cheese. You can experiment with different kinds of soy cheeses along with your regular cheeses, which will cut down on the fat. If you don't like that, you can use whipped butter. You can also sneak a block of soft, silken tofu in there to add creaminess, which will absorb flavor and add a boost of protein.
ESSENCE.COM: What dish do you make that people might be surprised by?
MEDEARIS: Eggs are a really great buy this time of year. I particularly like Eggland's Best Eggs because they are a real good source of omega 3, which is great for keeping you cute, like the diva, for years and years and years. People need to think beyond having them for breakfast. There's a fabulous Brazilian shrimp and egg dish. You take a hard cooked egg and sauté the yolk and shrimp with onion, garlic, salt, and cayenne pepper. Mix and then put it back in the egg white casing. Dip in egg whites, roll in bread crumbs and bake it in the oven. Instead of having all of that mayonnaise and pork fat, you have a healthy appetizer that's really pretty.
ESSENCE.COM: How do we get the kids to eat healthier versions of the foods they love?
MEDEARIS: It's all in the way mothers sell it. If you tell your child, "You can't have any ice-cream until you eat your broccoli," broccoli becomes the enemy. If you tell a child, "Oh honey, you've got trees on your plate. You see those trees? I bet you can't eat that whole tree." It's all in the way it's presented. And bring your kids into the kitchen. Cooking is a great way to make a child feel extra special. If they make it, they will eat it. If they grow it, they will eat it. Make cooking a fun, bonding experience.
Check out Angela Shelf Medearis on her PBS cooking show, THE KITCHEN DIVA! or at www.divapro.com. Look for her new book, Ten Ingredients for a Joyous Life and Peaceful Home: A Spiritual Memoir.