It’s only a few weeks into the new year: Will your resolution for healthy eating last until February?
Nearly half of Americans ring in with a resolution, and losing weight through healthier eating is at the top of the list. Statistics show, however, that few of us actually follow through with a weight loss or diet program.
The Star’s Eating for Life column, which I started writing a decade ago, strives to offer ideas and recipes for a balanced diet, not any particular diet.
The recipes are tested multiple times and include nutritional analyses so you can determine for yourself whether they fit your particular goals or dietary needs.
It’s not too late to resolve to check out the recipes in 2016. I hope to encourage you to explore new ingredients and cook more at home.
Tuna, White Bean and Kale Salad
Kale has risen to popularity as an “it” vegetable in recent years.
But just because a vegetable wins a popularity contest doesn’t mean it will be universally loved. Food-obsessed comedian Jim Gaffigan once went on a kale rant on “Conan,” claiming the leafy green tasted like bug spray.
Of course he dislikes almond milk and thinks gluten-free foods are unAmerican. But for folks like Gaffigan who find kale salads overwhelming, The Star’s tuna salad offers a milder, gentler way to go green.
Why bother? Kale has a good amount of iron, calcium and vitamins A and C.
I’ve been gobbling up this tuna salad featuring a sprightly, lemony vinaigrette for the past few weeks. The cannellini beans, which are rich in fiber, give a creaminess to the mixture without the addition of mayo. The capers and red onion add a salty-crunchy punch. Finally, fillips of kale add eye appeal to a monochromatic dish and remain barely discernible to the palate.
Hey, baby steps.
▪ Shopping tips: Kale is available year-round but is in season during winter. Look for leaves that are unblemished. Store in the refrigerator and use within 2 to 3 days.
▪ Serving suggestions: If you brown-bag it, this is a great make-ahead salad for lunch at your desk. Spoon tuna salad over sliced tomatoes. Or, for an appetizer, spread 1 to 2 tablespoons tuna mixture on toasted slices of baguette.
Makes 4 servings (total yield 4 cups)
1 (5-ounce) can water-packed white albacore tuna, drained and flaked
1 (15.5-ounce) can reduced sodium cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 medium red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
2 teaspoons capers, rinsed and drained
3 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup finely shredded kale
In a mixing bowl, toss together tuna, beans, onion, parsley and capers. Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper; drizzle over tuna mixture and toss to combine.
Add kale and toss to combine.
Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 to 2 days.
Per serving: 203 calories (34 percent from fat), 8 grams total fat (1 gram saturated), 11 milligrams cholesterol, 20 grams carbohydrates, 14 grams protein, 220 milligrams sodium, 5 grams dietary fiber.
Recipes developed for The Star by professional home economists Kathy Moore and Roxanne Wyss.
Before the heady days of fresh fig and prosciutto pizza were upon us, Americans settled for the occasional Fig Newton or a swipe of jam on toast for their fig fix.
Why ration such a supple, chewy and naturally sweet fruit?
Fresh figs are highly perishable and typically available only from late July to September. Getting your hands on figs now means relying on dried varieties, which, ounce for ounce, are even more nutritious than fresh.
Figs are an ancient symbol of peace and prosperity, attributes that make for a promising new year. The fruit also is a good source of calcium, iron and phosphorous and a significant source of dietary fiber, which is helpful for weight control.
One of the most popular ways to serve figs is to lightly poach them in syrup with cinnamon and cloves.
▪ Serving suggestions: Serve spiced figs as a breakfast treat over vanilla yogurt or Greek vanilla yogurt or on top of oatmeal.
Prepare parfaits, layering with granola, spiced figs and yogurt.
Serve spiced figs as an accompaniment to roasted pork.
Coarsely chop 3 tablespoons of drained spiced figs. Spread toasted crostini with light cream cheese or goat cheese. Top with chopped spiced figs.
▪ Shopping tip: This recipe calls for the purple-black Mission fig, which has very tiny edible seeds. Look for dried figs in the produce section and the dried fruit aisle.
Makes 4 servings
1 cup orange juice
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
4 to 6 whole cloves
1 (7 ounce) package dried Mission figs
In a saucepan, combine orange juice, brown sugar, cinnamon sticks, cloves and dried figs. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
Remove from heat. Allow mixture to cool slightly. Carefully remove and discard cinnamon sticks and any visible cloves.
Serve at warm, at room temperature or chilled.
Per serving: 225 calories (1 percent from fat), 1 gram total fat (trace saturated fat), no cholesterol, 52 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams protein, 11 milligrams sodium, 6 grams dietary fiber.
Cranberry Glazed Roasted Beets
Fresh beets are a world away from the canned beets of my childhood. The spiced candied kind were all I knew until I grew into adulthood.
I can thank the popularity of roasted beets and goat cheese for turning my palate around. But I have a friend who insists “beets taste like soil.”
Without a doubt, beets are strongly flavored and can be an acquired taste. This recipe roasts the beets, concentrating the vegetable’s natural sugars, then adds a glaze to make it a tad sweeter, without being cloying.
Why not just bypass the beets?
They’re high in vitamins and minerals and contain good amounts of manganese and fiber.
▪ Cooking tips: If you buy beets with the greens attached, be sure to remove before storing in the refrigerator; the greens will leach nutrients from the bulb.
Leave about 1 inch of the stems when trimming the beets. Do not peel before cooking. Once the beets are roasted and cooled slightly, you will be able to easily cut the stems off and peel the beets.
Small, baby beets are also good in this recipe, as are beets of every color. Reduce roasting time to about 30 to 40 minutes or until beets are tender when pricked with a fork.
Makes 4 to 6 servings
1 1/2 to 2 pounds beets, scrubbed and trimmed (about 8 medium beets)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups cranberry juice cocktail
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Place trimmed beets in a plastic food bag. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Seal bag and toss to coat beets evenly. Arrange beets on prepared baking sheet.
Bake beets, uncovered, 60 to 75 minutes or until tender when pricked with a fork. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, combine juice and vinegar in a small saucepan. Heat, uncovered, over medium-high heat until boiling. Reduce heat to maintain a steady boil and boil, uncovered, until the liquid is reduced to about 3/4 cup, about 15 minutes. (This concentrates the flavor, but the juice will still be fairly liquid.) Remove from heat and stir in honey. Season with salt and pepper.
When beets are cool enough to handle, peel beets and cut off stems. Slice 1/4 -inch thick and place in a serving bowl. Drizzle with reduced cranberry juice.
Per serving, based on 4: 199 calories (32 percent from fat), 7 grams total fat (1 gram saturated), no cholesterol, 32 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams protein, 92 milligrams sodium, 3 grams dietary fiber.