Dipping Into Layers Of Flavor

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - December 31, 2008
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One of the most amazing endeavors ever is the Louis Vuitton Creative Arts Program at Rehabilitation Hospital of the Pacific. Under the guidance of Ellen Matsumoto, it continues to flourish, giving current and past patients at REHAB the opportunity to express themselves after having such diagnoses as brain injuries, polio, joint-replacement surgery and a myriad of paralyzing accidents. Some of the patients have never picked up a paintbrush before; others have had to learn to paint with their non-dominant hands or even their mouths.

The end of 2008 marks Ellen’s retirement from the hospital. The program now will be coordinated by Tara Sullivan, who will work side-by-side with encouraging teacher Reuben Young.

So take time to visit the Nuuanu location and see how you can not only view but purchase original works of art by very talented members of our community. The exhibit on display through Jan. 31 is titled “The Pacific Gallery and Frames Collection.” It features art by Virginia Hatfield of Waianae; Pearl Iwaida and Wendy Okamura of Manoa; Joe Ratcliffe and Erlinda Nuger of Pearl City; Rose Ellen Chin of Kaneohe; Morris Nakamura, Ador Quijano and Lahre Correa of Ewa; Pat Ellard of Waikiki; Fran Yamate of Salt Lake;

Bennie Flores of Wahiawa; and Hermine Vasconcellos and Michael Chun of Honolulu.

This column is dedicated to all of those involved in this great REHAB program.

Serve this delicious dip to your holiday guests or bring to a New Year’s potluck. Serve with taco chips or fat-free tortillas. Make sure everyone digs deep to get all the fillings. This is also good spread on tortillas and rolled up.

The tomato is native to Mexico and Central America. Spanish settlers were introduced to the tomato by the Indians who cultivated it. Tomatoes were long considered poisonous and only used as ornamental plants until they found their way into Italian cooking in the 16th century, and became popular in the United States in the 1800s.

Choose firm, unblemished fruit that has a deep-red color, no wrinkles. The tomato should yield to light pressure from the fingers and have a pleasant aroma. Tomatoes can be kept for about a week at room temperature, if not exposed to direct sunlight. If tomatoes are very ripe, store in the refrigerator in the vegetable compartment; for the best flavor, remove about 30 minutes before serving.

Tomatoes are a good source of vitamin C and potassium. They also contain folic acid and vitamin A.

Lycopene is a pigment that gives tomatoes their characteristic red color and is said to be a cancer-fighting antioxidant. Subsequent research also has found that lycopene reduces the amount of oxidized low-density lipoprotein - the so-called bad cholesterol - and therefore may reduce the risk of heart disease.

Happy New Year!


* 1 (16-ounce) can refried beans (low fat) mixed with 1 teaspoon chili powder
1 (8-ounce) package light cream cheese, softened
* 1 (16-ounce) container light sour cream
* 2 large, firm vine-ripened tomatoes, diced
* 1 green bell pepper, diced
* 1 medium Maui onion, diced
* 1 jar of your favorite salsa
* 1 small head iceberg lettuce, shredded
* 1 cup shredded low-fat, sharp Cheddar cheese

This works best in a large, deep glass bowl with a flat bottom.

Spread refried beans on bottom of bowl. Mix the sour cream and cream cheese until well-blended and spread over the refried beans. Add tomato, green pepper and onion in individual layers. Add a layer of salsa and then lettuce. Sprinkle Cheddar cheese over entire top.

Makes about 50 servings as a dip.

Nutrition Information Per Serving:

Calories: 76
Fat: 2.1 grams
Cholesterol: 13 milligrams
Sodium: 184 milligrams (will vary depending on salsa chosen)

(Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program.)

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