Author: Hofman, Ethel G
Date published: August 4, 2011
Finally, after 20 years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has come up with simple nutritional guidelines to show how we can eat a healthy diet at every meal.
The confusing food guide pyramid simply had to go. In its place, the "My Plate" icon takes center stage. With just a glance, it's easy for anyone to follow and benefit from.
Where the pyramid stressed carbohydrates, such as bread and spaghetti at the base, far less space was given to fruits and vegetables. It recommended that fats should be eaten sparingly, which nutritionists now say ignored foods which contain healthier forms of fat, such as vegetable oils.
Instead, a plate is sectioned showing the recommended food groups. Fruits and vegetables take up half the plate, while grains and protein take up the remaining half.
There's no counting or weighing, but the plate stresses balanced portion sizes. The overall advice: Enjoy your food but eat less. The new "My Plate" guide is a user-friendly tool that should go far in helping people make healthy food choices. Full nutrition guidelines and advice are available at ChooseMyPlate.gov.
With an abundance of summer fruits and vegetables available right about now, this is an excellent time to adopt the "My Plate" eating habit.
If you're driving to the beach or the mountains, stop at a roadside stand or farmer's market, where you'll find just picked corn on the cob, tomatoes, berries, cucumbers, radishes, peaches and melons. They are less expensive at such venues and are at the peak of their flavor and nutritional value.
Here are healthy tips to get started.
* For portion control, use smaller plates. You're tempted to heap more food onto a large plate.
* Avoid processed foods heavy in salt and sugar.
* Drink water instead of sugar-laden drinks.
* Eat more poultry and fish instead of red meats.
* Switch to low-fat or fat-free dairy products.
* Fresh fruits and vegetables spoil quickly In summer, buy more often, every two to three days or so.
* Wash berries just before using. Washed berries, even when placed in the refrigerator, spoil quickly.
* If you have space, set aside a plot of land for tomatoes and other vegetables. It's also easy to plant your own herbs, even in a pot if you have little space.
* Go meatless on Monday. The Meatless Monday organization provides recipes and advice on how to practice this new trend.
SHAKSHUKA WITH EGGPLANT
A typical Israeli dish served at any time, from breakfast to dinner, at street cafes or a quick supper at home.
8 Tbsps. olive oil
2 baby eggplant, trimmed, unpeeled and cut in 1/2-InCh pieces
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
6 medium, ripe tomatoes, cubed
3 Tbsps. tomato juice
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. paprika salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
Heat half the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the eggplant and sauté 4 to 5 minutes or until golden. Remove to paper towels to absorb excess oil.
Add the remaining oil and heat. Add the bell pepper, garlic and sauté 1 minute or just until the garlic changes color. Do not brown. Add the eggplant, tomatoes, tomato juice, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper. Simmer, partially covered, 8 to 10 minutes, or until tomatoes are softened and the mixture is soupy. Correct seasonings.
Break the eggs, one by one, into a cup and slide each into the mixture, leaving space between each egg. Scatter the goat cheese over. Raise heat to medium, cover and cook 4 to 5 minutes until the eggs are cooked to desired doneness. Serve with a salad and crusty whole wheat rolls.
GREENS OF THE SEASON BORSCHT
5-6 small red potatoes, unpeeled and quartered
4-5 cups vegetable broth
1 bag (10 oz.) baby spinach, washed and spun dry
1 bag baby arugula (about 10 oz.), washed and spun dry
1 cup parsley sprigs
2 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tsps. salt
1/2 tsp. lemon pepper seasoning
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup sour half-and-half
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
5-6 thinly sliced radishes
Place the potatoes in a medium pot. Pour 4 cups broth and 1Z2 cup water over. Bring to a boil over high heat. Coyer. Reduce heat to low and cook for 10 minutes.
Coarsely chop the spinach and arugula. Add to the potatoes along with the parsley, scallions, salt and lemon pepper. Return to boiling over medium heat. Cover partially and simmer 20 minutes longer or until potatoes are beginning to break down. Remove from heat.
Stir in the sugar. Cool 10 minutes. Pour into the food processor bowl and process until the greens are chopped and blended. Return to the pot and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the sour half-and-half and about 1Z2CUp cooled soup mixture, whisking madly to prevent curdling. Add another 1Z2CUp soup, whisking. Repeat until you have added 2 cups of soup to the sour half-and-half.
Pour this mixture into the remaining soup, whisking constantly. If too thick, add a little more broth. Add the lemon juice and season to taste with salt and lemon pepper as desired. Chill and serve garnished with sliced radishes.
CORN AND TOMATO SALAD WITH DIJON VINAIGRETTE
A colorful salad which, when tomatoes are omitted, may be prepared 1 to 2 days ahead. Toss in the tomatoes just before serving.
3 cups corn kernels (cut from 3 ears)
1 red onion, chopped
15 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/2 orange bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 cup snipped fresh basil leaves, loosely packed
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. chopped chives
2 Tbsps. cider vinegar
2 Tbsps. apple juice
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Place the corn in a microwave dish. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons water over and cover with a paper towel. Microwave for 3 to 4 minutes on high, depending on wattage. Drain well. Cool slightly.
Place in a medium bowl with the onion, tomatoes, bell pepper and basil. Set aside.
In a jar with a tight fitting lid or a small bowl, whisk together the remaining ingrethents to emulsify.
Pour over the corn mixture. Stir gently to mix. Refrigerate until needed or serve at room temperature.
Serves 6 to 8.
GREEN BEANS IN SPICY TOMATO SAUCE
2 lbs. fresh green beans
1/4 cup olive oil
1 sweet onion (Vidalia), coarsely chopped
6 plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup spicy vegetable juice
1/6 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. smoky paprika
1 2/2 tsps. sugar
1/3 cup shredded basil leaves, packed
Top and tail the green beans removing the strings. Cut beans in half. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until golden. If browning, immediately lower heat. Add the beans and all the remaining ingrethents except the basil. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 30 minutes. Shake the pan occasionally. Do not stir. Stir in the basil just before serving. Serve warm.
BRANDY MACERATED STRAWBERRIES
May substitute 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg instead of dried lavender buds. Lavender adds a delicate perfume and is available in the supermarket spice section.
1 quart strawberries, hulled
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup brandy
1/2 cup apple juice
2 tsps. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp. dried lavender buds
1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
Place the strawberries in a medium bowl with a tight-fitting lid. Prick each berry 2 to 3 times with a fork. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, add the remaining ingrethents. Stir over low heat. Simmer, stirring until blended.
Pour over the berries. Cover with the lid and shake to make sure berries are coated with the liquid. Refrigerate 2 to 3 hours. Turn dish over, lid attached, and chill 2 hours longer. Serve at room temperature.
For a dairy meal, top with a scoop of frozen yogurt or vanilla ice cream.
Serves 4 to 6.
Ethel G. Hof man is a past president of the International Association of Culinary ProfessionalsEmail her at: ethelhof@aoLconu