Rushville Republican

May 10, 2012

Cook's Corner: Healthy but delicious options

Ron Tolliver
Greensburg Daily News

— While in previous columns I have discussed various fun foods this time let's look at nutrition and diet. I am not much different than anyone else when thinking of  these two important factors in dining. YUCK However I have learned in the last few years that healthy nutrition and enjoyment of dining can go together quite well. Even knowing how to prepare healthy foods and their importance I must admit that I have not followed doing what I know is best. A diet consisting of low saturated fats is really fairly easy to attain by reducing the amount of red meat. I am not saying to not eat steaks and burgers but to reduce the number of times you have them each week. Beef consisting of a higher fat content seems to be the culprit according to health surveys. When using beef use the leaner cut and that alone will reduce unhealthy fats. I also have to say here that while fat does increase flavor in meats, flavor can be added by marinades. Again watch which marinades as a lot of them will add unwanted fats back into the meat.

A good diet that I would recommend is fish twice a week, the white meat of chicken twice a week, pork chops or a lean pork loin twice a week and having red meat once a week. Combining this with a variety of vegetables and fruit provides plenty of nutrition essentials with reduced fat, carbohydrates and calories.

Replacing white bread with 100% whole wheat or whole grain breads is beneficial to your health and well being. I enjoy the different textures and flavors that they provide. Just be careful of your darker breads as they may contain molasses and will increase the calorie content considerably.

Six Steps To A Healthy Diet

These guidelines for healthy American offer advice about food choices that promote health and help prevent disease.

1. Eat a variety of foods to get energy, protein, vitamins, minerals and fiber you need for good health. No single can provide everything you need.

2. Balance the foods you eat with physical activity to maintain or improve a healthy weight. Weight gain increases your risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease,stroke, diabetes, certain cancers and other illnesses.

3. Choose a diet low in fat, saturated fat and cholesterol to reduce your risk of heart attack and certain types of cancer. Because fat contains more than twice the calories of an equal amount of carbohydrates or protein, a diet low in fat can help you maintain a healthy weight.

4. Choose a diet with plenty of vegetables, fruit and grain products. Most of your calories in your diet should come from these foods, which provide needed vitamins, fiber,minerals and complex carbohydrates while helping lower your intake of fat.

5. Use sugars only in moderation. A diet with lots of sugars has too many calories and too few nutrients for most people and can contribute to tooth decay.

6. Use salt and sodium in moderation to help reduce your risk of high blood pressure. While sodium occurs naturally  in foods, the amount present in fruits and vegetables is usually quite small. Read the nutrition fact label on prepared foods to identify those lower in sodium.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health

The use of fresh vegetables and fruit will be a much wiser choice in selecting foods over canned. Even the organic canned food contain additives that you may not want in your diet. When local fruits and vegetables are available this may be the way the better way to select your purchases and plan your menus. Locally grown not only helps the local economy but provides fresher produce and fruits. There are several growers available in most areas that provide a diversity of produce. If possible get to know your grower, they can tell you what is ready for use now and what will be ready soon. One thing to remember is to always rinse fresh vegetables and fruit before using. The only exception is mushrooms that should only be wiped with a soft towel. The exception to this rule is wild mushrooms which is generally soaked for a short period in salty water. Don't forget the local farmers market, most towns and cities have them. Here in Rushville it is held on Saturday mornings during the summer season. If you have a problem with the produce do not be afraid to tell whoever sold it to you. That is the only way to keep the quality up and the freshness.

For those who are fortunate enough to have space, time and energy to grow their own fresh vegetables, there is a certain pleasure and pride in eating what you have grown. A window box can provide fresh herbs and spices. I know of homes that have a window box in the kitchen window filled with herbs. There seems to be a friendliness along with the pleasant aroma of herbs. Even just a few pots around the back porch can yield tomatoes, peppers and other varieties of vegetables. It is definitely worth giving it a try.

Adopting a healthy nutritious diet does not have to be an never ending battle because of the diversity of really good foods available to us. A good diet calls for a variety of foods therefore there is plenty of room for your lifestyle and taste. An easy way to assist you is simply looking at you plate, protein such as meat should not exceed 25% of the surface area. Food diverse in color and textures can be healthy and appealing at the same time.

In my opinion having a friendly conversation during dining results in a couple of helpful things. It relaxes you and actually slows down the eating process. You may have noticed that when having company for diner the meals always seem more enjoyable. It's not really the food that causes this effect, it is the relaxation and pleasantness of conversation that accompanies the meal. Never get into a stressful conversation while eating. The same holds true for eating in a hurry. There is an old adage that says to slow down and smell the roses, this applies to dining as well.

Ron's Pork Delight

serves 6

tender and juicy with lots of flavor

2 netted pork sirloins

3 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 medium white onions

1 large green bell pepper


white pepper

1 28oz can diced tomatoes

with onion and green peppers

remove elastic netting from sirloins

open sirloins and cut into 3 steaks each

in a large heavy skillet melt butter over medium heat

add oil

when hot add lightly salted and peppered sirloins

cook for about 8 minutes per side

remove sirloins and set aside

while cooking sirloins cut onions in half from top to bottom

cut into generous slivers

halve bell pepper crossways, seed and remove ribs and top

cut into generous slivers

add onion and bell pepper to oil

saute about 4 to 5 minutes until onions soften

return meat to skillet

stir in diced tomatoes

bring to slow boil

reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes

serve hot over steamed rice

Cook's Note: I place steaks atop rice and smother

with veggies

Tex-Mex Marinated Chicken Breasts

serves 4

4 large boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 12oz jar medium hot green salsa

between sheets of wax paper pound chicken

breasts to about 3/8inch thickness

place in resealable plastic bag

add salsa  making sure chicken is covered well

refrigerate for 3 hours

remove chicken and repound to desired thickness

place chicken on a broiler pan or grill

place broiler pan about 5 to 7 inches from heat

cook about 5 minutes per side or until done

juices will run clear

serve hot

Chicken Marengo

serves 4

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 bone in chicken breast halves skin removed

1 tablespoon flour

1/2teaspoon dried basil

1/4teaspoon garlic powder

1/8teaspoon white pepper

1/8teaspoon black pepper

1/2cup fat free chicken broth

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 28oz can diced tomatoes with onion and green peppers

1/2cup coarse chopped green bell pepper

1 medium white onion cut into wedges

1/4cup sliced black olives

heat oil in a large skillet over med-high heat

add chicken; cook until browned on all sides

in a medium bowl combine flour, basil, garlic powder,

white and black pepper, broth and tomato paste

blend until smooth

stir in tomatoes

remove chicken from skillet

add onion and bell pepper to hot oil

saute 2 to 3 minutes

return chicken to skillet

add tomato mixture and bring to boil

reduce heat and simmer 10 to 12 minutes or

until chicken is tender and juices run clear

stir occasionally

remove from heat and add olives

serve hot

Broiled Fish Filets

serves 4

4 fish filets about 1/2inch thick

1/4cup salted butter

1 teaspoon lemon juice

white pepper

combine melted butter and lemon juice

place filets on broiler pan skin side up

brush both sides with butter mixture

lightly pepper

broil 4 to 6 inches from heat for 8 to 10 minutes

turn once; basting with butter mixture

serve hot

Peas With Baby Bellos

serves 4

4 oz baby portaballo mushrooms halved

2 tablespoons butter

1/4cup chopped celery

3 tablespoons finely minced white onion

2 cups frozen peas, thawed

1 2oz jar diced pimentos, drained

in a medium sauce pan over medium heat melt butter

add mushrooms; saute for 6 to 8 minutes

add celery and onion; cook for 4 minutes

add peas and pimentos; cook for an additional 4 to 6 minutes

Sesame-Peanut Pasta

serves 4

quick and easy and so good

1/4cup low sodium vegetable broth

3 tablespoons low sodium peanut butter

1 1/2tablesspoon rice vinegar

3 tablespoons sesame seeds

2 green onions sliced with tops

1/8teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/8teaspoon white pepper

 5 cups cooked hot pasta

in a medium bowl combine all ingredients except pasta

mix well

stir in hot cooked pasta

serve hot

cook's note: can be covered and chilled for cold main course

Breakfast Pizza

serves 4

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 8oz pkg fresh sliced baby bello mushrooms

1 cup chopped red bell pepper

1 cup chopped green onion with tops

1 cup egg substitute

1/4cup fat free milk

1//2cup no salt added tomato sauce

1 1/2teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

1/4teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/4teaspoon white pepper

2 English muffins halved and toasted

grated Parmesan cheese

in a large non stick skillet heat oil over med high heat

add mushrooms and saute until soft, about 4 to 5 minutes

add bell pepper and onion, reduce heat to medium

saute for 4 to 5 minutes

in a small bowl whisk together egg substitute and milk

add egg mixture to vegetables

scramble until egg mixture is settlements

remove from heat

in a small bowl combine tomato sauce, Italian seasonings,

red pepper flakes and white pepper

spoon 2 tablespoons of sauce mixture on each half of muffin

divide scrambled eggs equally on each muffin half

sprinkle with Parmesan cheese

serve hot