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Healthy eating for 2009 starts now

Resolutions that involve better eating could start with Pan-Seared Mahi-Mahi with Apple-Pear Chutney. Washington Post (Washington Post / The Spokesman-Review)
Resolutions that involve better eating could start with Pan-Seared Mahi-Mahi with Apple-Pear Chutney. Washington Post (Washington Post / The Spokesman-Review)

Resolutions that involve better eating could start right here.

These recipes fall within our nutritional guidelines as healthful, and they all taste great.

The criteria for main courses and entree-size soup portions: up to 500 calories; up to 20 grams of total fat, and up to 6 grams of saturated fat; up to 600 milligrams of sodium; up to 80 milligrams of cholesterol.

For side dishes, salads, soups (as a first course) and desserts: up to 250 calories; up to 10 grams of total fat and up to 3 grams of saturated fat; up to 300 milligrams of sodium; and up to 40 milligrams of cholesterol.

Pan-Seared Mahi-Mahi with Apple-Pear Chutney

From “1000 Gluten-Free Recipes,” by Carol Fenster (Wiley, 2008). Here, firm-fleshed fish takes kindly to chutney with winter-fall flavors.

For the chutney:

1 tablespoon unsalted butter (may substitute vegan margarine, such as Earth Balance, or canola oil)

1 Bosc pear, peeled, cored and cut in 1/2-inch dice

1 small, firm apple (such as Granny Smith), peeled, cored and cut in 1/2-inch slices

1/4 cup finely chopped white onion

1 medium clove garlic, minced

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon dried cranberries

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger


Freshly ground black pepper

For the fish:

4 mahi-mahi fillets (about 4 ounces each; may substitute red snapper fillets)

1 tablespoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

Heat the butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the pear and apple (about 1 3/4 cups total), onion and garlic; cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has slightly softened.

Add the vinegar, lemon juice, honey, cranberries, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and ginger, stirring to combine. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, until the chutney has darkened in color and is fragrant; season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat and let stand while you cook the fish.

Use paper towels to pat the fish fillets dry. Combine the chili powder, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Press the mixture onto both sides of the fillets.

Heat the oil in a separate large skillet (preferably not cast-iron) over medium-high heat. Add the mahi-mahi fillets and cook for 8 to 10 minutes total (turning halfway through) or until the fish is just barely opaque when cut at the thickest point. The outside should be browned with caramelized spices.

Divide among individual plates; serve with a few tablespoons of the chutney alongside.

Yield: 4 servings

Nutrition information per serving: 236 calories, 24 grams protein, 18 grams carbohydrates, 8 grams fat (3 grams saturated fat; 31 percent calories from fat), 49 milligrams cholesterol, 219 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber.

Garlicky Spinach and White Bean Soup

From Alexandria, Va., nutritionist Robyn Webb. Given its high water content and satiety value, eating an entree of soup is a good way to control your diet, and it can help you work in lots of vegetables. Here, the beans provide plenty of fiber, a key to weight management. Using unsalted homemade chicken broth is the best way to limit the amount of sodium when making soup.

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)

3 medium cloves garlic, minced

1 large carrot, peeled and cut into small dice

1 rib celery, cut into small dice

1 tablespoon flour

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 (14-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, with juice

1 (15-ounce) can cannellini or other white beans, drained and rinsed (or boiled and drained)

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary

2 cups washed, stemmed and coarsely chopped spinach leaves

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, carrot and celery; stir to coat, then cook for 6 minutes, stirring often to keep the ingredients from sticking to the bottom of the pan. The vegetables will have softened.

Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes, then add the broth, tomatoes with their juice, beans, oregano and rosemary; bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.

Add the spinach and cook for 5 minutes, stirring to incorporate so the spinach wilts. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.

Yield: 7 1/2 cups (6 servings)

Nutrition information per serving: 154 calories, 9 grams protein, 26 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fat (no saturated fat; 12 percent calories from fat), no cholesterol, 477 milligrams sodium, 6 grams dietary fiber.

Banana Snack Cake

Adapted from “Diabetes Diet Cookbook,” from the editors of Prevention magazine with Ann Fittante (Rodale, 2008). This cake has soft, tender batter, lightened with egg whites. Make it whenever you have a ripe banana on hand; the cake freezes well.

1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour, plus more for dusting the pan

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch salt

1 large egg, plus 2 (large) egg whites

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup canola oil

1/2 cup mashed ripe banana (1 small banana)

1/4 cup low-fat buttermilk

2 teaspoons confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking oil spray, then dust with flour, shaking out any excess. Line the pan with a sheet of parchment paper long enough so that it overhangs 2 sides of the pan; this will be used to help lift the cake out.

Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl or on a sheet of wax paper.

Separate the egg, reserving the yolk and placing the egg white in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer. Add the remaining 2 egg whites. Beat on high speed for about 2 minutes or until the whites are foamy. Add 2 tablespoons of the sugar; beat for 1 to 2 minutes or until firm peaks form. (Do not wash the beaters.)

Combine the oil and the remaining 6 tablespoons of sugar in a separate mixer bowl; beat on medium speed until smooth. Beat in the following ingredients one at a time, incorporating well after each addition: the egg yolk, banana and buttermilk. Make sure no large lumps of banana remain.

Reduce the speed to low, then gradually add the flour mixture; beat until smooth. Remove the bowl from the mixer.

Fold in a large spoonful of the egg white-sugar mixture, then gently fold the rest of the mixture into the cake batter. Pour into the prepared pan, spreading so the top is even. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then use the parchment paper to lift the cake from the pan and place it on the rack to cool completely. (The cake may fall slightly; that is OK.)

Combine the confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder in a small bowl. Put the mixture in a fine-mesh strainer and sift over the top of the cooled cake. Cut into squares and serve.

Yield: 9 servings

Nutrition information per serving: 174 calories, 3 grams protein, 25 grams carbohydrates, 7 grams fat (1 gram saturated fat; 36 percent calories from fat), 24 milligrams cholesterol, 141 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber

Provencal Marinated Fennel

From “The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook,” by Nancy Harmon Jenkins (Bantam, January 2009). Raw fennel is delicious and may cleanse the palate, but cooked fennel has its charms as well. This preparation, which could accompany roast pork or a firm fish such as tuna or salmon, is similar to “a la greque.” The fennel may be served hot, but it is much better at room temperature with some of its cooking liquid spooned over.

6 firm fennel bulbs (6 to 6 1/2 pounds)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 small celery rib, cut crosswise into thin slices

1 thin leek, white and light-green parts cut crosswise into thin rounds

2 large cloves garlic, crushed

1 tablespoon thyme leaves

2 bay leaves

2 tablespoons pine nuts

1 cup dry white wine

2 tablespoons sultana raisins or dried currants

2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley

Trim the fennel bulbs, cutting off the stalks and some of the root end and removing the bulb’s tough outer layer. Then cut lengthwise into 1/4- to 1/2-inch slices.

Choose a skillet or saucepan large enough to hold all the fennel; in it, combine the olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, celery, leek, crushed garlic, thyme and bay leaves. Place over medium heat.

As soon as the vegetables start to sizzle, which will happen within a minute or so, add the pine nuts. Cook for about 5 minutes or just until the pine nuts start to brown, then add the fennel, stirring the contents of the skillet or saucepan until the fennel is well coated.

Add the wine and increase the heat to medium-high until it just comes to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until the fennel is just tender; the cooking time will depend on the thickness of the slices.

Uncover, then add the raisins and stir to mix well. Increase the heat to medium or medium-high to bring the liquid to a boil; cook for about 10 minutes and then add half of the parsley, stirring to mix well. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until the liquid has reduced to a syrup. Discard the bay leaves.

Sprinkle with the remaining parsley. Serve hot, warm or (preferably) at room temperature.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Nutrition information per serving (based on 8 servings): 165 calories, 3 grams protein, 17 grams carbohydrates, 9 grams fat (1 gram saturated fat; 49 percent fat calories), no cholesterol, 131 milligrams sodium, 6 grams dietary fiber.

Tags: diet, health

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