July 4th brings two words to mind: FREEDOM & OPPORTUNITY. The USA is as perfect a democracy as possible. However, freedom and opportunity are not always accessible to everyone equally, despite the Declaration of Independence statement of:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Right there is a problem, because it does not say men AND women. And when you consider the facts that we wrestled our land from the Native Americans, placing them on reservations; that we forced Africans from their homeland and made them slaves; and that women had to fight for the right to vote, our democracy is far from perfect.

Despite the imperfections of our democracy, however, many people do come to the USA for freedom and opportunities that they cannot achieve in their country of birth, where democracy may not be in evidence. In fact, both my sets of grandparents came from the “old country” in search of a better life. With so many immigrants from so many countries, the USA became known as The Melting Pot, and in recent years, the pots have spilled over so that we have not only ethnic cuisines, such as Chinese, Japanese, Middle Eastern, Indian, etc.; we also have something called “fusion cooking.”

My understanding of fusion cooking is when someone takes a dish from one country, infuses it with ingredients from another country’s cuisine, and creates a new dish. A good example of this is tofu, which is an Asian food that has become Americanized, so that we now have tofu ice cream, tofu cheese cake, and tofu smoothies, none of which is an Asian creation. Also, as the different cuisines have been cross cultivated or popularized, we find that there are foods that have become commonplace, rather than ethnic. Thus, bagels are no longer relegated as just Jewish food, and pizza is not considered just an Italian dish, especially when someone adds pineapple for Hawaiian pizza.

Today’s MELTING POT MENU reflects some of these ideas. I have added certain ingredients to make them more midlife-friendly, using low fat yogurt, sprouts, whole grains, green soybeans, etc. and creating dishes that need little or no cooking. (This represents freedom from the stove and an opportunity to try natural convenience foods.) I also experimented with fusion cooking with my Asian Slaw, which my daughter liked, so I guess that counts as something positive, since my kids are my worst critics. If I make something “yucky,” they aren’t afraid to tell me.

Finally, remember the words freedom and opportunity can also be applied to midlife. Since most of us are past the chiid-bearing or child-rearing age, (your children or someone else’s), we have the freedom to pursue other avenues of interest. And as we “mature,” we may be less inhibited about exploring every opportunity that comes our way.

The second half of life invites us to be creative in ways we may not have deemed possible. We have become powerful women in our later years—powerful enough to say what we think, and also to think about and act on what we need to make our lives work, without having power over anyone but ourselves. That’s worth celebrating!


Hummus with Whole Wheat Pita
Stars & Stripes Fruit Salad
Asian “Fireworks” Slaw
Cous-Cous with Edamame Beans
Black Bean Dip with (Blue) Corn Chips
Tomato & Onion Slices with Olives (top photo only)
Red & Yellow Watermelon (top photo only)

HUMMUS with PITA (No cooking)
Purchase fresh hummus (chick pea dip) from the health food store or supermarket. Read labels to make sure there are no artificial ingredients, trans-fats, or sugar. Spread hummus on a flat plate. Sprinkle with olive oil, paprika, and parsley. Cut whole wheat pita triangles on the edge of the plate for dipping. Feel free to add carrots or other veggies.


3-4 cups fat-free plain yogurt
1/2-3/4 c. organic red raspberries and/or strawberries (cut)
1/2-3/4 c. organic blueberries and/or blackberries
1 tsp. vanilla or almond extract
slivered almonds or toasted dried coconut

1. Place yogurt in a large bowl. Gently stir in berries.
2. Sprinkle dish with almonds or coconut and serve chilled.


2 c. shredded, organic white cabbage
6-8 grated, organic red radishes
1/2 to one cup grated daikon radish (looks like a white carrot)
1/2 cup water chestnuts

1/4 c. toasted sesame oil plus 1 tsp. hot sesame oil
1/8 cup plum or rice vinegar
1 tsp. freshly grated ginger or ginger juice
dash of soy sauce
(black) sesame seeds
dill or fennel leaves for garnishing

1. Mix shredded cabbage, grated radishes, and water chestnuts in a large bowl.
2. Whisk dressing ingredients (not the garnish). Pour over salad and mix well.
3. Stir in sesame seeds.
4. Sprinkle on dill or fennel leaves and serve chilled.
Variations: Add mung bean sprouts for additional crunch. Use more ginger, hot sesame oil and less regular toasted sesame oil for more “fireworks.”

One box Near East Cous-Cous
1/2-1 cup shelled Edamame beans (green soybeans)
Grated carrots
Minced scallions (optional)
Olive Oil

1. Follow stovetop directions, which merely involves boiling water with the spice packet (and green soybeans) for 5 minutes.
2. After 5 minutes, add the cous-cous, cover and allow all the water to be absorbed.
3. Add about 2 Tbl. Olive oil and stir to coat grains.
4. Finally, add grated carrots and scallions, if using. Chill. Serve on a bed of lettuce.
(Note: If this is chilled overnight, you may want to add a little more oil the next day.)

Another dish made by adding boiling water to Imagine Foods Black Bean Dip. (Directions on the box). Once water is absorbed, place dip in an attractive bowl. Garnish with chopped onion & shredded carrots. If chilling overnight, add extra warm water or try lemon juice or hot pepper sauce for a little more “zing.”

Other items in the top photo are red and yellow watermelon slices and sliced cucumbers and onions with olives. None of these recipes require cooking, unless you consider boiling water ‘cooking.’ If you are grilling meats or vegetables, that can be done outdoors, so you can be stove-free! Happy Fourth!

One Response to “MELTING POT MENU”

  1. ellen sue spicer Says:

    if you subscribe, you will be notified when I post. thanx, ellensue

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