Food & Drink

New cookbooks can help with 2011 diet resolutions

How's that diet going?

If you're already bored with your New Year's resolution or have given up on it, these new cookbooks might help:

The Skinny Carbs Diet (Rodale, $25.99) gives the OK to put carbohydrates back onto our plates. The book, by registered dietitian David Feder and the editors of Prevention magazine, introduces readers to resistant starch, or RS — so called because it resists breakdown in the upper digestive tract. Nutrition experts say RS, like fiber, has been shown to be effective in lowering cholesterol and high blood pressure, protecting against heart disease and colorectal cancer, controlling diabetes and improving digestion.

Resistant starch is particularly favored by the body as an optimal source of energy, satiety and glucose regulation. It occurs naturally in bananas, yams, oatmeal, rice, bread and beans. In addition, certain cooking methods can boost the amount of resistant starch in these foods.

Feder said RS can fuel weight loss by burning body fat and visceral fat (belly fat), and enhance the body's ability to metabolize nutrients. Because it helps you feel full, you tend to consume fewer calories at each meal.

Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook (Wiley, $29.95) is the fourth edition of the popular book that provides plenty of options for sticking to a weight-loss program. This cookbook has a chapter with slow-cooker recipes, and it has plenty of ideas for meals and snacks.

It's designed for the PointsPlus program, and values are given for each recipe. All recipes are tagged for skill level: basic, intermediate or advanced.

400 Calorie Fix: The Easy New Rule for Permanent Weight Loss (Rodale, $25.99) by Liz Vaccariello is based on one premise: eating four 400-calorie meals a day. Included are a guide for ordering at restaurants and a two-week quick-slim plan to jump-start weight loss.

Vaccariello says in the introduction that weight loss doesn't have to mean forbidden food groups and deprivation. It is possible to reach your goals by using a moderate, flexible, easy-to-follow eating plan that controls calories but allows for splurges and favorite foods.

If you can't avoid the drive-through, Vaccariello gives calorie content for popular items, as well as options at casual dining spots.

The Essential Diabetes Cookbook: Good Healthy Eating From Around the World (Kyle Books, $35) isn't just for diabetics. Author Antony Worrall Thompson has created easy-to-make dishes with influences from cuisines worldwide — Africa, Turkey, the Middle East, Central and South America, Southeast Asia and the Mediterranean. A healthy diabetic diet involves eating a wide variety of foods, increasing the amount of vegetables and fiber, reducing protein and learning to recognize hidden sugars — and Thompson provides an array of flavorful choices.

Here are a few recipes from the books.


Chicken tacos with charred tomato salsa

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Grated peel of 2 limes

Juice of 3 limes

¼ cup orange juice

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon minced garlic

½ teaspoon ground cumin

8 plum tomatoes

1 to 2 jalapeño peppers (wear plastic gloves when handling)

1⁄3 cup chopped scallions

1⁄8 teaspoon salt

1 large red onion, thinly sliced

4 whole-wheat (7½ -inch diameter tortillas, 2 ounces each)

2 cups finely shredded leaf lettuce

Place chicken on a baking sheet or in a resealable plastic bag. Whisk together lime peel and juice of 2 limes, orange juice, ¼ cup cilantro, 1 tablespoon garlic, and cumin. Pour lime mixture over chicken. Turn chicken pieces to coat. Refrigerate at least 1 hour and as long as 4 hours. Turn at least once while marinating.

Meanwhile, cut tomatoes in half lengthwise and place them cut side down on a baking sheet. Place peppers on baking sheet. Broil until tomatoes and pepper skins are charred, turning so all sides char. Remove from heat and lightly cover with foil. Let stand until vegetables are cool enough to handle.

Remove and discard skins and seeds from the peppers. Finely chop and transfer peppers to a medium bowl. Gently squeeze tomatoes to remove seeds. Coarsely chop tomatoes and add them to bowl. Stir in scallions, juice of 1 lime, salt, 2 tablespoons cilantro and 1 teaspoon garlic.

Coat a skillet with cooking spray. Cook onion slices over medium heat until they begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Remove chicken from marinade and cut into 1-inch strips. Add them to skillet and cook for about 6 minutes, or until no longer pink in the center when tested with a knife. Serve chicken with warm tortillas, salsa and shredded lettuce.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 340 calories, 3 g. fat, 450 mg. sodium, 53 g. carbohydrate, 8 g. dietary fiber, 33 g. protein.

From 400 Calorie Fix

'Fried' catfish with potato sticks

1¼ pounds red potatoes, scrubbed

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

1 large egg

¼ cup yellow cornmeal

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

4 (5-ounce) catfish fillets

4 lemon wedges

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray 2 baking sheets with non-stick spray.

Cut potatoes into ½ - by 2-inch sticks, rinse under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Spread in single layer on one of the prepared baking sheets; spray with non-stick spray. Bake until potatoes are golden brown and crispy, about 30 minutes. Immediately sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.

Meanwhile, lightly beat egg in pie plate. Mix together cornmeal, parsley, remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and remaining ¼ teaspoon pepper on sheet of wax paper. Dip catfish, one filet at a time, in egg, then coat with cornmeal mixture, pressing so it adheres.

Place fish on remaining prepared baking sheet; lightly spray with non-stick spray. Bake until golden brown and just opaque in center, about 12 minutes. Serve with potato sticks and lemon wedges.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 289 calories, 5 g. fat, 119 mg. cholesterol, 371 mg. sodium, 36 g. carbohydrate, 3 g. sugar, 4 g. fiber, 24 g. protein, 44 mg. calcium. PointsPlus value: 7.

From Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook

Cheddar-stuffed burgers

1 pound ground buffalo meat or lean ground beef

1 small Vidalia onion, finely chopped

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

½ cup shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese

4 English muffins, split and toasted

1 cup thinly sliced romaine lettuce

16 small tomato slices

Mix together meat, onion, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper in large mixing bowl just until well combined. With damp hands, shape mixture into 4 equal balls. With your finger, make deep indentation in center of each ball. Fill each hole with 2 tablespoons cheese. Enclose filling by pinching meat together. Shape into ¾-inch patties.

Spray large non-stick skillet with non-stick spray and set over medium-high heat. Place patties in skillet and cook until instant-read thermometer inserted into side of burger registers 145 for medium, about 4 minutes a side.

Place bottoms of muffins on 4 plates. Top each with lettuce, burgers and tomato slices; cover with tops of muffins.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 343 calories, 12 g. fat, 70 mg. cholesterol, 754 mg. sodium, 30 g. carbohydrate, 2 g. sugar, 3 g. fiber, 30 g. protein, 257 mg. calcium. PointsPlus value: 9.

from Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook

Crumble in a flash

2 cans (8 ounces each) pineapple, drained and lightly crushed

1 dessert pear, diced

1 dessert apple (Pippin, Granny Smith), diced

1 cup unsweetened muesli or granola

2 tablespoons sunflower seeds

2 teaspoons sesame seeds

3½ ounces low-fat Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix pineapple, pear and apple, then spoon mixture into four medium-size ramekins. Crumble muesli or granola into a bowl, stir in seeds, then mix in yogurt and honey. Spoon onto fruit. Bake, uncovered, for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with a little extra yogurt if you like.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information per serving (with granola): 261 calories, 5.9 g. protein, 7.8 g. fat, 44.5 g. carbohydrate, 30.5 g. sugar, 3.6 g. fiber, 35 mg. sodium.

From The Essential Diabetes Cookbook

Potato and edamame with sesame and scallions

12 ounces red bliss potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 cup frozen shelled edamame

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 small onion, chopped

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

3 scallions, chopped

1/4 teaspoon salt

Put potatoes in a medium saucepan with enough cold water to cover by 3 inches. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook for 8 minutes. Stir in edamame, return to a boil, and cook 2 to 3 minutes longer, or until potatoes are tender. Drain.

Heat oil in large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 to 2 minutes, or until softened. Stir in potato mixture and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in scallions and salt.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 151 calories, 6 g. protein, 21 g. carbohydrate, 4 g. fiber, 5 g. fat, 168 mg. sodium.

from The Skinny Carbs Diet

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