“God took the strength of a mountain, the majesty of a tree, the warmth of the summer sun, the calm of a quiet sea, the generous soul of nature, the wisdom of the ages, the power of the eagle’s flight, the joy of a morning in spring, the faith of a mustard seed, the patience of eternity, the depth of a family’s need. Then God combined these qualities, when there was nothing more to add, he knew his masterpiece was complete, and so, he called it …Dad.” — Unknown

The bond between children and parents is deeply compelling, but there is an especially unique connection between fathers and daughters.

Fathers bring a unique perspective to their daughter’s lives. Whether a birth father, grandfather, adoptive father or stepfather, each can have a lasting impact on a girl’s confidence level, as well as a significant effect on how girls will grow, mature and interact with the world.

Even though daughters may not fully appreciate their fathers as we are growing up and away from them, their influence is ingrained within. Memories sustain and lessons learned help guide young women through the maze of life.

My love for cooking natural foods and appreciating the great bounties of nature are a lasting legacy left to me by my grandfather. We would harvest vegetables from the garden together, pluck fat blackberries from well-laden bushes, and spent hours fishing together.  Our fishing adventures were always successful and at the end of the day would yield big buckets full of perch, trout or flounder. The catch would be cleaned and then Grandpa would slide the glistening filets through a shallow pan of milk, apply a good dusting of cornmeal, then drop the fish into a huge, well-oiled, sizzling cast iron pan. How incredibly fresh and sweet those fish tasted!

If you are planning to honor your father with a celebratory meal this Father’s Day, considering adding mushrooms to the menu! Portobello mushrooms, when grilled, take on a marvelous meaty flavor and make a wonderfully healthy substitute for the traditional beef burger.

Clean your Portobellos well by gently wiping with a damp cloth or soft brush. If they still need rinsing, do this immediately before cooking and dry them well. Remove the stem and brush the cap on both sides with olive oil.

Grill or broil the caps 4-5 inches away from the heat source, brushing with oil several more times. Place on a whole grain bun, adding tomatoes, onions, hot peppers or whatever other embellishments Dad prefers. Your father will enjoy the benefit of a delicious dish that’s low in fat, salt and calories, yet high in protein, fiber, Vitamin D, riboflavin, niacin, potassium, selenium and copper. Add some minced garlic and chopped fresh parsley, basil or oregano to that brushing of olive oil and you will layer on extra flavorful antioxidants!

This rich feast may also offer lower cholesterol and blood pressure benefits, can wage war on heart disease and cancer and perform as a natural cold and flu deterrent and may even provide anti aging results!

Portobello mushrooms are readily available in your supermarket. Look for sturdy, evenly colored mushrooms with no visible signs of bruising. They will keep in your fridge for several days, stored in a brown paper bag.

Prepare this fantastically flavorful salad for the special father in your life. Savor the joy of special relationships that help us to prepare an incredibly delicious life! Happy Father’s Day!

Grilled Portobello and Gorgonzola Salad

Serves 4-6.

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil

4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons each fresh parsley, marjoram and basil, chopped

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons finely minced garlic

½ teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 large Portobello mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed

8 cups organic baby salad greens

4 ounces gorgonzola cheese

1 container organic grape tomatoes

Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, herbs, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper. Brush olive oil mixture over both sides of Portobello mushrooms, then grill or broil for 4-5 minutes on each side until tender and brown. Arrange greens on individual salad plates. When the mushrooms are cooked, cut into thick slices and divide among the plates, placing atop the greens. Crumble gorgonzola over the salads, add the grape tomatoes and drizzle with any remaining oil mixture.

Robin Glowa, HHC, AADP, “The Conscious Cook”, is a passionate food and wellness professional who earned her certification in holistic health counseling from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and Columbia University Teacher’s College. She earned her cooking experience in the kitchen! Robin specializes in teaching healthy cooking classes to children and adults utilizing, fresh, natural ingredients and simple, delicious recipes. She conducts cooking demonstrations for many local organizations and is available for cooking parties and private instruction as well. For more information go to www.theconsciouscook.net. Robin’s blog is confessionsofaconsciouscook.blogspot.com.