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Applause all around for everyone who entered the 2004 Delicious Living reader recipe contest! This year we received a record number of entries from all over the country, making it harder than ever to narrow the field to three winners and three runners-up. Choosing from a long list of top-shelf natural foods and adding a generous dose of creativity, readers dazzled us with a huge variety of appetizers, entrées, and desserts, from super-simple to fairly complex. The judging, based on innovation, ease of preparation, and taste, proved as appetizing as we had expected. With so many good recipes to choose from, it's clear beyond doubt that Delicious Living readers know what they're doing when it comes to putting together mouth-watering meals. Our thanks to each and every cook for your enthusiastic and inspiring entries; we hope you'll enter again next year! Here we present the winning recipes; enjoy them in good health.

First Place: Appetizer
Quinoa Lettuce Wraps

Linda Wells, Edgar Springs, Missouri

Serves 8 / Bursting with fresh, delicious ingredients, this appetizer could also serve as a light supper for four. If you're not familiar with protein-rich quinoa (a grain), now's the time to try it-this recipe will make a believer out of you.

1 cup Arrowhead Mills Organic Quinoa
2 cups water
1 low-sodium vegetable bouillon cube
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
3 scallions, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2-1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons Hain Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup Maranatha Peanut Butter, creamy or chunky
8 lettuce leaves (iceberg or Boston), washed and patted dry
1/2 cup chopped roasted peanuts (unsalted)

1. Combine quinoa, water, and bouillon cube in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover, and simmer 15 minutes. Cool.

2. In a medium-large bowl, combine ginger, scallions, garlic, red pepper flakes, and cilantro. Add cooled quinoa and stir to mix.

3. In a jar or small bowl, whisk together olive oil, honey, lemon juice, and salt. Pour over quinoa mixture. Cover and refrigerate.

4. When ready to serve, spread 1 tablespoon peanut butter on each lettuce leaf. Top with about 1/3 cup quinoa mixture and sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon peanuts. Roll up, securing with a toothpick if desired.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Calories: 231 calories
% fat calories: 61
Fat: 17g
Saturated Fat: 3g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Carbohydrate: 16g
Protein: 8g
Fiber: 3g
Sodium: 366mg

First Place: Entrée
Sweet and Sour Turkey Meatballs

Joan Romero, South Lake Tahoe, California

Serves 6 / A real crowd-pleaser, sure to delight kids and adults alike. The tangy pineapple sauce and unusual spices in the turkey mixture set these apart from ordinary meatballs. Take them to your next potluck and watch them disappear.

1/4 cup Organic Valley Reduced Fat 2% Milk
1 Organic Valley Brown Egg, beaten
1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
1/2 cup fresh whole-wheat bread crumbs
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons tamari
1/4 cup Hain Canola Oil, for sautéing

3/4 cup Imagine Chicken Broth
1/2 cup Hain Pure Foods Organic Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Hain Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 15-ounce can unsweetened pineapple chunks, drained and juice reserved
1 chicken bouillon cube
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon tamari
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons water

1. Thoroughly mix together first 11 ingredients (milk through tamari). This mixture may be made ahead and refrigerated overnight.

2. Preheat oven to 375º. Roll turkey mixture into walnut-size balls. In a large skillet, heat canola oil and sauté meatballs just until browned. Drain on paper towels and transfer to a 13x9-inch baking dish. Cook in oven 15 minutes.

3. While meatballs are cooking, prepare sauce: In a medium saucepan, combine chicken broth, brown sugar, olive oil, pineapple juice, bouillon cube, vinegar, and tamari. Bring to a boil. In a small bowl, dissolve flour in water; add to boiling sauce and stir until thickened. Stir in pineapple chunks. Pour sauce over meatballs and cook in oven for an additional 15 minutes.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Calories: 415 calories
% fat calories: 44
Fat: 21g
Saturated Fat: 4g
Cholesterol: 127mg
Carbohydrate: 35g
Protein: 24g
Fiber: 1g
Sodium: 531mg

First Place: Dessert
Peanut Butter-Maple Parfaits

Jacqueline McComas, Paoli, Pennsylvania

Serves 8 / Incredibly rich, with an extravagantly creamy texture and taste. With one bite, maple syrup and peanut butter may become your new favorite flavor combination.

3/4 cup Up Country Organics Pure Maple Syrup, divided
1 cup Organic Valley Whipping Cream
1 cup Hain Pure Foods Organic Powdered Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Frontier Natural Products Co-op Simply Organic Cinnamon
8 ounces Organic Valley Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 cup Maranatha Peanut Butter, creamy
1 teaspoon Frontier Natural Products Co-op Simply Organic Vanilla

1. In a small saucepan, boil 1/2 cup maple syrup for about 3 minutes, or until reduced to 1/3 cup. Set aside.

2. Whip cream with an electric mixer until almost stiff. Set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, sift together powdered sugar and cinnamon. Add cream cheese, peanut butter, and vanilla and beat well (use the same beaters as for the whipped cream). Add the reduced maple syrup and beat well. Fold in whipped cream.

4. Spoon mixture into 8 short-stemmed sundae glasses or parfait glasses. Keep chilled.

5. In a small saucepan, boil the remaining 1/4 cup maple syrup for 1 minute. Drizzle over peanut-butter mixture in glasses and serve.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Calories: 421 calories
% fat calories: 60
Fat: 29g
Saturated Fat: 15g
Cholesterol: 72mg
Carbohydrate: 37g
Protein: 7g
Fiber: 1g
Sodium: 175mg

Runner Up: Appetizer
Thai Confetti Coleslaw

Renee Conover, Pisgah Forest, North Carolina

Serves 8 / This reader developed this sweet and spicy coleslaw based on a dish she loved while living in Thailand. Easy to make (especially if you have a food processor), it keeps well in the fridge for several days; simply garnish with the nuts and cilantro just before serving.

2 cups red cabbage, shredded (about 1/2 small head)
2 cups green cabbage, shredded (about 1/2 small head)
2 cups carrots, shredded (3-4 carrots)
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped peanuts or toasted pumpkin seeds, for garnish
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish

3 tablespoons Maranatha Peanut Butter, creamy or crunchy
1/4 cup Up Country Organics Pure Maple Syrup
2 tablespoons toasted pumpkin seed oil, toasted sesame oil, or peanut oil
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon liquid aminos (such as Bragg's) or tamari
1/4 cup fresh lemon or lime juice
1/2 small tomato, chopped, or 3-4 grape tomatoes, halved
Cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes, to taste

1. In a blender, blend all dressing ingredients until creamy. Adjust to taste.

2. In a large bowl, toss shredded cabbage, carrots, and raisins with dressing. Refrigerate. Just before serving, garnish individual servings with nuts or seeds and cilantro.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Calories: 195 calories
% fat calories: 47
Fat: 11g
Saturated Fat: 2g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Carbohydrate: 22g
Protein: 5g
Fiber: 3g
Sodium: 130mg

Runner Up: Entrée
Onion Croquets in Cilantro-Jalapeño Sauce

Enriqueta Palacio-Bond, Evanston, Illinois

Serves 6 / This unusual vegetarian dish features a delectable, Mexican-inspired sauce that would also taste good over grilled chicken breasts.

2 Organic Valley Brown Eggs, beaten
1 cup rice milk
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup water
1 3/4 cups dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup Arrowhead Mills Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 teaspoon Hain Pure Foods Turbinado Sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
Hain Extra Virgin Olive Oil, for frying

2 cloves garlic
1 medium onion
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 pickled jalapeno pepper
1 pound tomatillos, fresh or canned
1 4-ounce can mild green peppers, chopped
1-2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1/2 cup sour cream

1. For the sauce, combine all sauce ingredients except sour cream in a food processor until nearly smooth. Transfer to a saucepan over medium-low heat; add sour cream and mix until thoroughly heated. Keep warm.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together eggs, rice milk, onion, and water. In a large bowl, combine bread crumbs, four, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add egg mixture to bread-crumb mixture and stir well.

2. Form batter into golf-ball-size balls and gently press to flatten slightly. Heat olive oil in a large skillet and fry croquets until golden brown, about 5 minutes per side. Serve immediately with warm sauce.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving (2 croquets with 1/4 cup sauce):
Calories: 306 calories
% fat calories: 42
Fat: 15g
Saturated Fat: 3g
Cholesterol: 76mg
Carbohydrate: 37g
Protein: 8g
Fiber: 3g
Sodium: 1154mg

Runner Up: Dessert
Honey-Rhubarb Spice Bread

Marion Karlin, Waterloo, Iowa

Serves 12 / This comforting recipe would go well with tea almost any time of day. We liked the addition of five-spice powder—a blend of star anise, cloves, cinnamon, and more—which you'll find in the Asian or spice section of your market.

1/3 cup Hain Canola Oil
1/2 cup honey
1 Organic Valley Brown Egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon Frontier Natural Products Co-op Simply Organic Vanilla
1/3 cup Organic Valley Reduced Fat 2% Milk
1 cup Arrowhead Mills Organic Whole Wheat Flour
1/4 cup Arrowhead Mills Organic Soy Flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup finely diced fresh or frozen rhubarb
1/4 cup chopped pecans

1 cup Organic Valley Whipping Cream
2 tablespoons Hain Pure Foods Organic Powdered Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder, or to taste

1. Preheat oven to 325º. In a large bowl, mix together canola oil and honey. Blend in egg, vanilla, and milk.

2. In a separate bowl, mix whole wheat flour, soy flour, salt, five-spice powder, and baking soda. Add to wet ingredients. Stir in rhubarb and pecans. Pour batter into a well-greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan. Bake for about 45 minutes, or just until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Turn onto a rack to cool.

3. Before serving, whip cream until soft peaks form; mix in powdered sugar and flavor to taste with five-spice powder. Serve bread slices dolloped with spiced whipped cream.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving (with 1 Tbs spiced whipped cream):
Calories: 191 calories
% fat calories: 51
Fat: 11g
Saturated Fat: 2g
Cholesterol: 27mg
Carbohydrate: 22g
Protein: 3g
Fiber: 2g
Sodium: 136mg