Cooking class: Be good to yourself

New ideas on eating for health are direct and easy to follow.

April 10, 2012 15:52
Be good to yourself

Be good to yourself. (photo credit: MCT)


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Shake the salt habit, especially in processed foods. Eat more seafood, fruits and vegetables, and choose fat-free or low-fat dairy.

And please, get moving.

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These are nuggets from the 2010 Dietary Guidelines released in January by the US Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services. The guidelines have consumer-friendly – but straight-to-the-point – messages, like “enjoy your food, but eat less.”

“It’s more on weight management and balancing calories” to manage weight, says Bethany Thayer, a registered dietitian and wellness manager at Henry Ford Health System and national spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.

The guidelines, released every five years, offer nutritional help to promote health and healthy lifestyles.

So, how are you measuring up? Are you eating your 2 cups of fruits and 21⁄2 cups of vegetables a day? Have you curbed your sodium intake, keeping it below 2,300 milligrams (1,500 if you’re 51 or older, or have hypertension)? Do you include more fish as a lean source of protein? The ADA’s main message is “eat right with color.” The focus is on learning how to meet dietary needs by grouping healthy foods by color and knowing their nutritional value.

For example, green fruits such as avocados, apples, grapes and kiwis have antioxidant properties that may help promote healthy vision and reduce some cancer risks.


Serves: 4

The warm, sweet balsamic dressing tenderizes the peppery watercress to make a bed for the seared salmon.

✔ 1⁄2 cup balsamic vinegar
✔ 1⁄2 tsp. confectioner’s sugar
✔ Nonstick cooking spray
✔ 4 salmon fillets (140 to 170 gr. each, about 2.5 cm. thick), skinned
✔ 1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
✔ 8 cups trimmed watercress
✔ 1⁄4 tsp. freshly-ground black pepper

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the vinegar and sugar; bring to a boil. Cook until the liquid is reduced to 1⁄4 cup (about 7 minutes).

Place the mixture in a large bowl and let it cool slightly.

While the vinegar mixture cooks, heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and coat it with nonstick cooking spray.

Sprinkle the fish with 1⁄4 tsp. salt. Add the fish to the preheated skillet; cook 4 minutes on each side, or until the fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.

Add a pinch of salt, the watercress and the pepper to the vinegar mixture; toss to coat.

Place about 11⁄2 cups of the watercress mixture on each of 4 plates; top each serving with 1 fillet.

(From Cooking Light magazine, August 2004 issue.)

Serves: 4

✔ 4 fresh or frozen (thawed) halibut steaks (about 2 cm. thick)
✔ Kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
✔ 3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
✔ 4 Tbsp. fresh flat-leaf parsley, divided
✔ 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
✔ 11⁄2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
✔ 1 cup finely chopped red-bell pepper
✔ 1 cup finely chopped green-bell pepper
✔ 2 cloves garlic, peeled, minced
✔ 1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
✔ 1⁄8 tsp. cayenne pepper
✔ 1⁄2 cup seeded and chopped tomato
✔ 1⁄4 cup finely chopped red onion
✔ 1 Tbsp. white-wine vinegar

Rinse the fish and pat dry with paper towels. Season both sides of the halibut with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, combine 1 Tbsp. of the olive oil, 1 Tbsp.

of the parsley and the oregano. Rub both sides of the halibut with the parsley mixture; set aside.

In a large skillet, heat 1 Tbsp. of the remaining olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the corn and cook about 4 minutes or until it just starts to brown, stirring occasionally. Stir in the bell peppers and cook for 2 minutes more. Stir in the garlic, 1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt and the cayenne pepper. Cook and stir for 1 minute more. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

Preheat the broiler to high or preheat the grill.

Place the fish on the broiler pan and broil 10 cm. from the heat for 8 to 12 minutes, or until fish flakes easily, turning once halfway through broiling.

Meanwhile, for the relish, in a medium bowl combine the corn mixture, tomato, red onion, remaining 3 Tbsp. parsley, whit-wine vinegar and remaining 1 Tbsp. of olive oil. Mix well. Serve each steak with 1⁄2 cup of the relish.

Cover and chill any remaining relish.

Adapted from The Sonoma Diet Cookbook by Dr. Connie Guttersen (Meredith).

Serves: 4 (as a main dish)

✔ 2 Tbsp. olive oil
✔ 1 cup pearled barley
✔ 2 leeks, white and light-green parts only, thinly sliced
✔ 1⁄2 cup dry white wine or water
✔ 2 cups water
✔ coarse salt and freshly-ground pepper
✔ 1 cups vegetable broth
✔ 1 bunch asparagus (about 500 gr.), trimmed and cut on bias into 5-cm.
✔ 300 gr. frozen peas, defrosted
✔ 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
✔ 1⁄4 cup thinly sliced mint leaves, plus small leaves for garnish

In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add barley and leeks; cook until leeks begin to soften, 5 to 7 minutes. Add wine; cook until evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add 2 cups water; bring to a boil and season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat; simmer until liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes.

Add broth and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until barley is tender and creamy, about 10 minutes. Add asparagus; cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in peas until heated through. Add Parmesan and mint; season with salt and pepper.

Garnish with mint leaves.

Adapted from Power Foods by the editors of Whole Living magazine (Clarkson Potter).

Serves: 4

✔ 2 slices 100% whole-wheat bread, dried
✔ 1⁄3 cup walnuts, toasted if desired
✔ Coarse salt and ground pepper
✔ 1 large egg white
✔ 4 chicken breast halves, boneless and skinless
✔ 1 Tbsp. canola oil
✔ Lemon slices, for serving
✔ Salad greens for serving, optional

Preheat the oven to 200ºC. In a food processor, combine bread and walnuts; season with salt and pepper. Process until fine bread crumbs form. Transfer to a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl, beat egg white until frothy.

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Dip each breast into egg white, letting excess drip off, and then into crumb mixture, pressing to adhere.

In a large, nonstick, oven-proof skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add chicken and cook until lightly browned, 1 to 3 minutes. Carefully turn chicken over and put skillet in oven. Bake until chicken is golden brown and cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes. Serve chicken with lemon slices and green salad.

■ Adapted from Power Foods by the editors of Whole Living magazine (Clarkson Potter).

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