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Deciding the winners and runners-up for our annual Delicious Living reader recipe contest gets tougher every year! Thanks to everyone who sent us their best ideas for flavorful and nutritious side dishes, entrees, and desserts, from which we chose a winner and runner-up in each category. The top-notch choices printed here won raves for innovation (including creative use of at least one ingredient from a provided list of natural products), ease of preparation, and taste. First-place entrants received a $150 gift certificate to their favorite natural products store; runners-up received a $75 certificate. Kudos to every reader who participated; we’ll look forward to seeing your entries next year. For now, enjoy these delicious winners.

First Place: Side Dish
Fire-Breathing Dragon Soup
Deeja Youngquist, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Serves 6 / This full-flavored soup features abundant cold- and flu-busting ingredients. It’s also easy to make and keeps well in the refrigerator.

2 tablespoons Eden Organic Spanish Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
3-4 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large tomato, chopped
1 package Mori-Nu Silken Lite Tofu, extra firm, well-drained and chopped
1 cup filtered water
2 8-ounce cans organic tomato sauce
1 6-ounce can organic tomato paste
1/4 cup Eden Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tablespoon Eden Organic Tamari
2 tablespoons Rapunzel Rapadura Whole Cane Sugar
1 teaspoon Simply Organic Garlic Pepper
1 tablespoon Simply Organic Ginger
1 tablespoon Simply Organic Parsley
1 tablespoon Simply Organic Sage
Organic Valley Sour Cream

1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, combine olive oil, onion, peppers, garlic, and tomato; sauté for about 1 minute.

2. Toss in tofu and simmer for another 2 minutes. Add water, tomato sauce, tomato paste, vinegar, tamari, sugar, garlic pepper, ginger, parsley, and sage to the mixture; bring to a boil.

3. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Serve hot, garnished with 1 tablespoon sour cream.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Calories: 161 calories
% fat calories: 30
Fat: 6g
Saturated Fat: 1g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Protein: 7g
Carbohydrate: 23g
Fiber: 4g
Sodium: 707mg

First Place: Entrée
Spinach-Stuffed Chicken Breasts
Tulie Trejo, Chula Vista, California
Serves 6 / Special enough for company and surprisingly easy to make. If you’re not a sausage fan, this would still taste wonderful without it.

6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
4 tablespoons Spectrum Naturals Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Simply Organic Garlic Pepper
1/4 cup marsala wine
1/2 cup Italian-style bread crumbs
2/3 cup blanched chopped fresh spinach, squeezed dry
1 green onion, chopped
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 ounces uncooked mild Italian sausage, casings removed, crumbled
1/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons sliced almonds, lightly toasted
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley

1. Preheat oven to 375º. Using scissors or a sharp knife, cut a slit into the side of each chicken breast to create a deep pocket. Set aside.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms; sauté 1 minute. Add 1 tablespoon garlic pepper and wine. Simmer until mushrooms have absorbed wine, 5–8 minutes. Add bread crumbs, spinach, green onion, basil, parmesan cheese, salt, and sausage. Mix well. Stuff mixture into chicken breast pockets.

3. In a shallow dish, combine flour with remaining 1 teaspoon garlic pepper. Roll chicken breasts gently in seasoned flour to dredge. Sauté in remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium meat until lightly browned, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a large baking dish and cook 15–20 minutes, or until chicken is firm to the touch. Transfer to a serving platter and sprinkle with toasted almonds and chopped parsley.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Calories: 424 calories
% fat calories: 51
Fat: 24g
Saturated Fat: 6g
Cholesterol: 79mg
Protein: 38g
Carbohydrate: 14g
Fiber: 1g
Sodium: 780mg

First Place: Dessert
Vanilla Chai Granola Tarts
Robin L. Zucker, Concord, Massachusetts
Serves 4 / A unanimous favorite among our testers. This creative dessert could also be topped with poached fruit, such as apricots, figs, or pears.

Granola Crumb Crust
6 graham crackers (1/4 pound)
1 1/4 cup Nature’s Path HempPlus Granola
1/3 cup butter
2 tablespoons honey

Custard
2 cups Organic Valley Soy Milk
2 Hain Celestial Chai tea bags
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
3 tablespoons honey
1/8 teaspoon Simply Organic Ginger
1/8 teaspoon Simply Organic Cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 Organic Valley Omega-3 egg yolks, lightly beaten

Whipped Tofu Crème (Makes 3/4 cup)
1 package Mori-Nu Silken Tofu, firm, drained
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup or honey
1 1/2 tablespoons canola or walnut oil
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons water
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 350º. Finely crumb graham crackers in a blender or food processor. Mix granola with cracker crumbs, breaking up any large pieces. Melt butter and mix with honey; stir into granola mixture. Press mixture into four individual 4 1/2-inch aluminum tart tins (available at most grocery stores), building up sides to make a smooth edge. Bake for 12–15 minutes; cool.

2. To make custard, heat 1 3/4 of the milk, taking care not to boil (use a double boiler if possible). When hot, remove from stove and add tea bags; steep for 10 minutes. Squeeze tea bags, remove, and discard.

3. While tea bags are steeping, in a small bowl whisk together remaining 1/4 cup milk, arrowroot, honey, ginger, and cinnamon.

4. Reheat milk to very hot (but not scalding); whisk in arrowroot mixture, salt, and vanilla. Continue cooking for 10 minutes, whisking often so skin doesn’t form. Whisk in egg yolks and cook for 5 minutes more. Pour into cooled granola crusts. Refrigerate for several hours.

5. To make tofu crème, blend all ingredients for 3–5 minutes until silky smooth. Chill. Serve tartlets topped with 2 tablespoons tofu crème.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Calories: 623 calories
% fat calories: 46
Fat: 32g
Saturated Fat: 12g
Cholesterol: 148mg
Protein: 15g
Carbohydrate: 72g
Fiber: 3g
Sodium: 536mg

Runner-Up: Side Dish
Apple-Millet Dressing
Pamela Steinberg, Worcester, Massachusetts
Serves 8 / A comforting and easy side dish with a stronger nutritional profile than typical stuffing. Serve with your favorite entrée and a green salad.

3 tablespoons Spectrum Naturals Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
3 cups cooked whole millet
1 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup cooked organic black beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup chopped red apple
1/4 cup chopped celery
1 large Organic Valley Omega-3 Egg, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon Simply Organic Parsley
1 teaspoon Simply Organic Garlic Pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon sea salt

1. Grease sides and bottom of a 9x13-inch or 2-quart glass baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Combine all remaining ingredients in a large bowl until well mixed. Pour into baking dish. Bake in a preheated 375º oven for 55-60 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Calories: 196 calories
% fat calories: 31
Fat: 7g
Saturated Fat: 1g
Cholesterol: 27mg
Protein: 6g
Carbohydrate: 28g
Fiber: 3g
Sodium: 314mg

Runner-Up: Entrée
Smoked Salmon on Corn Fritter Squares with Black Bean Sauce
Cori Mulliken, Pacific Grove, California
Serves 8 / A delicious and easy way to enjoy smoked salmon, complemented with an unusual cornbread and nutritious sauce.

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 Organic Valley Omega-3 egg whites, lightly beaten
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup minced onion
1/2 cup minced red or orange bell pepper
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 14-ounce can creamed corn
1 8.5-ounce package cornbread muffin mix
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Black Bean Sauce
1 can black beans, undrained
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons Spectrum Naturals Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 cans Crown Prince Smoked Coho Salmon
Organic Valley Sour Cream
Chopped fresh cilantro

1. Preheat oven to 375º. Whisk together butter, egg whites, and cream cheese until well mixed. Whisk in honey. Add onion, bell pepper, corn kernels, and creamed corn; mix thoroughly. Add corn muffin mix and pepper; mix well. Pour batter into a lightly greased 11x7-inch baking pan. Bake for 45–50 minutes, or until middle springs back when lightly pressed. Cool for 10–20 minutes in pan. Cut into 9–12 even rectangles.

2. To make black bean sauce, place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Transfer to a saucepan and heat.

3. Place one corn fritter square on a serving plate. Top with a chunk of smoked salmon and drizzle with warmed black bean sauce. Garnish with sour cream and a sprinkling of cilantro.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving (1 piece cornbread, 2 ounces salmon, 1/2 cup sauce):
Calories: 506 calories
% fat calories: 45
Fat: 26g
Saturated Fat: 12g
Cholesterol: 55mg
Protein: 20g
Carbohydrate: 51g
Fiber: 6g
Sodium: 1174mg

Runner-Up: Dessert
Tropical Fruit Crisp with Vanilla Citrus Pudding
Chelsea Wolf, Prescott, Arizona
Serves 8 / Absolutely delicious and fresh, with no added sugar, this vegan dessert also makes a nutritious breakfast.

Vanilla Citrus Pudding
1 package Mori-Nu Silken Tofu, extra firm, drained
3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 package Mori-Nu Vanilla Pudding Mix
1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest

Tropical Fruit Crisp
2 ripe bananas, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
2 oranges, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
1 pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into bite-size chunks
Juice of 1 lime
1 cup Nature’s Path HempPlus Granola
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup fresh orange juice

1. Place tofu and 3 tablespoons orange juice in blender or food processor. Blend until creamy. Add pudding mix and blend for 2-3 minutes, scraping down sides as necessary. Transfer mixture to a bowl. Fold in orange and lime zests. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

2. Preheat oven to 350º. Place bananas, oranges, and pineapple in a 2-quart casserole dish or 9x13-inch baking dish. Add lime juice and toss gently. In a separate bowl, mix granola with coconut and sprinkle over fruit. Drizzle orange juice over all. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve warm, dolloped with vanilla citrus pudding.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving (with 1/4 cup pudding):
Calories: 211 calories
% fat calories: 19
Fat: 5g
Saturated Fat: 2g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Protein: 6g
Carbohydrate: 39g
Fiber: 3g
Sodium: 37mg