As the school year winds down and family schedules become a little more flexible, it's the perfect time to try some new recipes.
Fortunately, this spring's lineup of new cookbooks has a healthy streak and some delicious recipes, too. We've picked out some of the best for you to try.
The University of Kentucky Woman's Club has updated the ever-popular Stay for Tea cookbook for the club's centennial celebration. This edition has traditional recipes that most families adore, and many have been given makeovers using healthful ingredients.
Students in the Department of Nutrition and Food Science in the UK School of Human Environmental Sciences updated the recipes, and members of the Woman's Club prepared the recipes and had blind taste testings.
The cookbook has two versions of many of the recipes. Mary Bell Vandenbosch's 1948 recipe for Swedish meatballs has 290 calories; the updated version, modified by Liz Herndon, has 130.
Gloria Singletary's 1975 recipe for chicken country gentleman contains 530 calories; the one updated by Leslie Mason and Adele Mroz has 320.
Proceeds from the cookbook go to the fund that provides a full tuition scholarship for a non- traditional UK undergraduate student. The cookbooks are $20, plus $5 for postage and handling. Send checks, payable to UKWC Aid Fund, to Melissa LeVine, 2345 Abbeywood Road, Lexington, Ky. 40515. Or call (859) 271-4936.
■ Janet Zappala lightens up Italian recipes in My Italian Kitchen: Home-Style Recipes Made Lighter & Healthier (Addicus Books, $19.95). Zappala has reinvented her family recipes without compromising taste. Recipes include Mom's marinara sauce, turkey and blue cheese burgers, chicken cacciatore, and chocolate torte.
■ Rocco DiSpirito's latest book is Now Eat This! 150 of America's Favorite Comfort Foods, All Under 350 Calories (Ballantine, $22). Recipes include turkey tacos with tomatillo salsa, pepper steak, meatloaf with Portobello mushrooms, and strawberry graham cracker tarts.
■ Putting cheap, healthy, easy food on the table three meals a day, seven days a week is what How to Feed Your Whole Family a Healthy, Balanced Diet (St. Martin's Press, $14.99) is all about.
Author Gill Holcombe says it can be done with very little money, hardly any time, a tiny kitchen and no fancy gadgets. Her recipes range from fish stick pie to smoked salmon and tagliatelli.
■ New York Times health columnist Anahad O'Connor and former Food Network chef Dave Lieberman tell you how to get the most delicious, healthy foods on every plate in The 10 Things You Need to Eat (William Morrow, $19.95). By eating foods whose healthy benefits are researched, documented and widely accepted, you can lower your risk of developing a host of ailments. The 10 are: tomatoes, avocados, beets, spinach, quinoa, lentils, cabbage, super fish, nuts, and berries.
■ The Master Your Metabolism Cookbook (Crown, $26) by Jillian Michaels recommends foods that "will repair, nourish and support every cell in your body so your body works for you and not against you." Her top 10 power nutrients include legumes, berries, cruciferous vegetables and whole grains. Michaels offers more than 125 recipes that can be prepared in 30 minutes or less.
■ Jennifer Iserloh has created 100 decadent, guilt-free recipes in Secrets of a Skinny Chef (Rodale, $19.99). Iserloh doesn't focus on specific diets or memorizing calories. She says: Think before you eat. "By learning about smart and delicious meal choices (think fat content, portion size, freshness, nutritional labels), it becomes surprisingly simple to make effortless lifestyle changes that work for everyone, every time."
■ The Flat Belly Diet! Family Cookbook (Rodale, $26.99) by Liz Vaccariello, editor-in-chief of Prevention magazine, and dietitian Sally Kuzemchak, is based on the Flat Belly Diet, an eating plan that targets belly fat, the hardest to lose. A 14-day meal plan is included.
■ I Can't Believe It's Not Fattening by Devin Alexander (Broadway Books, $19.99) offers simple recipes for home-cooked meals that can be prepared in the time it would take to go through the drive-thru. Alexander is co-author of The Biggest Loser Cookbook.
■ Lauren Deen says you can have your cake and eat it, too, and she tells you how in Cook Yourself Thin Faster (Voice, $19.99). Low-fat recipes include chocolate cheesecake cupcakes, asparagus and goat cheese quiche, pork tacos, and cashew chicken.
■ Children who love junk food will like the recipes in The Wholesome Junk Food Cookbook by Laura Trice (Running Press, $17.95). With careful planning and wholesome ingredients, you can make food that tastes great and is nutritious, Trice said.
Trice focuses on better sweets and snacks; some of the recipes are chocolate zucchini muffins, honey-toasted granola, homemade chocolate pudding, baked sweet potato fries, butternut squash nuggets, and corn pancakes.
Stuffed shells marinara
12-ounce box jumbo pasta shells
15-ounce container part-skim ricotta cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil shells for just 8 minutes. They will be a bit stiffer and easier to stuff than if they were fully cooked. While shells are cooking, stir together in a medium-size bowl ricotta, eggs, Parmesan cheese, basil, salt and pepper until smooth and creamy. When the pasta is cooked, drain in a colander. Run shells under cool water and drain again.
Spoon a thin layer of marinara sauce on the bottom of a 13- by 9-inch baking dish. Fill each shell with cheese mixture. Place filled shells in the baking dish and top evenly but lightly with marinara sauce. Save any extra sauce for serving on the side. Cover dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and sprinkle mozzarella cheese evenly over shells. Bake uncovered for 5 more minutes. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.
Nutrition information per serving: 321 calories, 10 g. fat, 260 mg. sodium, 32 g. carbohydrates, 20 g. protein, 3 g. fiber.
from My Italian Kitchen
Mom's memorable meatballs
1/4 cup Italian-style bread crumbs
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Pinch of salt and pepper
1/2 pound ground beef, preferably organic or all-natural
1/2 pound ground pork, preferably organic or all-natural
1/2 pound ground veal, preferably organic or all-natural
1/2 teaspoon water
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes, preferably Hunt's all-natural
2 15-ounce cans tomato sauce, preferably Hunt's all-natural
1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
1/4 cup water, optional
Salt and pepper to taste
To make meatballs: In a large bowl, combine bread crumbs, eggs, cheese, parsley, and salt and pepper. Add meat and 1/2 teaspoon water; mix thoroughly. Shape mixture into 15 medium-size meatballs. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in large sauce pot over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Add meatballs; brown them about 4 minutes on each side. Transfer meatballs to plate lined with paper towel to soak up excess oil.
To make sauce: In the same sauce pot, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and the onion; sauté for 2 minutes. Add garlic, sauté until golden. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, basil and oregano.
Add meatballs to sauce pot, gently stir, and bring to a boil. Lower heat; partially cover. Simmer 1 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Add water if sauce gets too thick. Taste-test and season with salt and pepper. Serve with your favorite pasta.
Makes 5 servings.
Nutrition information per serving (3 medium meatballs): 200 calories, 11 g. fat, 380 mg. sodium, 5 g. carbohydrates, 14 g. protein, 6 g. fat.
From My Italian Kitchen
2 small limes, zested and juiced
3 tablespoons reduced-fat peanut butter
3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
Non-stick cooking spray
4 6-ounce boneless wild salmon fillets, skin on
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In small bowl, mix lime zest, lime juice, peanut butter, soy sauce, ginger and garlic. Heat large skillet over high heat. Coat skillet with cooking spray and place salmon fillets in pan, flesh side down. Cook 1 to 2 minutes, until salmon starts to brown. Turn fillets over and turn off heat. Spoon lime mixture over salmon and put skillet in oven. Bake 7 to 8 minutes, until salmon flakes when pressed with a fork. Makes 4 servings.
Nutrition information per serving: 334 calories, 38 g. protein, 11 g. carbohydrates, 15.3 g. fat, 94 mg. cholesterol, 2 g. fiber, 600 mg. sodium.
from Secrets of a Skinny Chef
4 cups rolled oats
1 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
2 teaspoons unprocessed sea salt
1/4 cup evaporated cane juice crystals
2⁄3 cup honey
1/2 cup organic oil
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease shallow 14- by 11-inch pan with cooking spray. Combine oats, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, salt and sugar. Mix well. Combine honey and oil in a separate bowl and pour over dry ingredients. Mix well and spoon into prepared pan, firmly patting the mixture to edges. Bake 30 minutes, turning pan and stirring every 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool before cutting into bars.
From The Wholesome Junk Food Cookbook