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Beets contain the vitamin folate, which researchers say may reduce the risk of heart disease. If you have access to baby beets, leave them whole -- they're small enough that you don't need to cut them into quarters.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
1. Heat oven to 375°F. Lightly spray a rack with nonstick cooking spray and place in a baking pan. In a shallow pie plate combine buttermilk and pepper. In another shallow pie plate combine cornflake crumbs, 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons each of the cilantro, basil, and tarragon. Dip each piece of chicken into buttermilk, then into the cornflake mixture so that both sides are well coated. Arrange chicken on prepared rack and set aside.
2. Toss carrots with 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil on a jelly-roll pan. Wrap each beet in foil and add to pan. Bake vegetables on one rack and chicken on another until cooked through, 20 minutes. Sprinkle chicken with 1/8 teaspoon salt, cover and keep warm.
3. Remove beets from foil and slip off skins using a paper towel. Cut into quarters if necessary. Toss beets and carrots with remaining olive oil, cilantro, basil, and salt and serve with chicken. Makes 4 servings.
Per serving: 350 calories, 9.5g total fat, 1.5g saturated fat, 66mg cholesterol, 579mg sodium, 35g carbohydrates, 31g protein, 78mg calcium, 3g fiber
Make it kid-friendly: Skip the cilantro and basil. Instead sprinkle grated Parmesan in with the cornflake crumbs.
Second-meal secret: Chicken cutlets make great sandwiches. Try them on multigrain bread topped with arugula and a spread made from a combination of Dijon mustard and fat-free mayonnaise.
Pair it with: Ecco Domani 2002 Merlot, Italy, $10 The sweet taste and soft texture of the vegetables pair well with this mellow red wine filled with cherry, spice, and licorice.
Edamame is the Japanese word for green soybeans. They're a good source of soy protein, which, studies have shown, may help lower LDL ("bad" cholesterol) levels. Look for them in the freezer section of most grocery and health-food stores, either shelled or in pods. A 16-ounce bag of edamame pods will yield the one cup shelled beans needed for this recipe.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: about 30 minutes
1. In a large saucepan over high heat, stir together rice and edamame beans; add 1 1/2 cups broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook until liquid is absorbed, 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring often until onions begin to turn translucent, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms, thyme, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring often until mushrooms release their liquid, 3 minutes more. Stir into rice, cover, and keep warm.
3. Sprinkle tuna with salt and remaining pepper. Heat remaining olive oil in skillet over medium heat; add tuna and cook 3 minutes on one side. Turn and cook until almost cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes more for medium-rare. Transfer tuna to a platter; cover and keep warm.
4. Add shallot to skillet; cook 1 minute at medium heat. Increase heat to high, stir in wine and remaining broth and cook until sauce is reduced to 1/2 cup. Add orange peel and orange juice, and cook 1 minute more. Stir in the juice that has accumulated from the fish. Pour sauce over fish. Serve immediately with rice. Makes 4 servings.
Per serving: 425 calories, 16g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 43mg cholesterol, 451mg sodium, 33g carbohydrates, 38g protein, 21mg calcium, 6g fiber
Make it kid-friendly: Cook some of the rice without vegetables, and boil a batch of edamame in their pods. Serve the edamame the way many Japanese restaurants do -- in a bowl, sprinkled with salt. Kids will love to pop open the pods and see the beans nestled inside.
Second-meal secret: You can make an Asian-style stir-fry with the rice pilaf by tossing in a few drops of sesame oil and red pepper flakes. Serve as a side dish with your next meal.
Pair it with: Talus 2001 Pinot Noir, California, $8 This light yet robust red is filled with cherry flavors and adds an acidic zip to the heartiness of the earthy mushrooms and the brown rice.
Garlic, a key ingredient to the spice mixture, contains a chemical called allicin that researchers believe may discourage the development of artery-hardening plaque. If you have time, rub the mixture over the birds the night before so the herbs and spices have a chance to meld, creating a more intense flavor.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
1. Heat oven to 400°F. Lightly oil a large, shallow roasting pan. In a small bowl combine rosemary, 2 cloves of the pressed garlic, mustard, 2 teaspoons olive oil, paprika, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Rinse and pat hens dry. Rub the rosemary mixture inside and outside each bird. Arrange on prepared pan.
2. Combine remaining olive oil, lemon peel, lemon juice, basil, pepper, and remaining garlic in a large bowl. Toss tomatoes in mixture then place in a single layer on a lightly greased jelly-roll pan. Roast tomatoes on lower rack and hens on the rack above them until hens are cooked through and juices in thigh run clear when pricked with a fork, about 45 minutes.
3. During the last 5 minutes of roasting, wash and drain spinach. Bring broth to a simmer in a large skillet over medium heat. Add spinach, cover and cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 2 minutes. Remove cover, and drain any excess liquid. Serve with hens and tomatoes. Makes 4 servings.
Per serving: 350 calories, 11g total fat, 2.5g saturated fat, 193mg cholesterol, 542mg sodium, 18g carbohydrates, 46g protein, 120mg calcium, 8g fiber
Make it kid-friendly: Prep some of the hens with just the olive oil, mustard, and salt, then serve sliced with diced tomatoes over cooked cheese ravioli.
Second-meal secret: Make burritos by using two forks to shred the meat from the birds and reheating it along with the spinach and tomatoes in the microwave. Wrap sauteed chopped onions, canned black beans, fat-free sour cream, and reduced-fat cheese inside 10-inch flour tortillas.
Pair it with: Covey Run 2002 Fume Blanc, Washington State, $9 This crisp, dry white wine balances out the lemony flavors of the hens and oven-roasted tomatoes.
A diet rich in high-fiber meals, like this one, not only reduces cholesterol, but may help keep your blood pressure in check, thus reducing heart-attack risk. Try not to let the polenta sit more than five minutes; it will start to thicken and dry out. If this happens, simply stir in a little extra hot chicken or vegetable broth to loosen it up.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: about 30 minutesVegetable Ragout
1. Make vegetable ragout. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often until edges begin to brown, about 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook 1 minute. Add eggplant and cook, stirring until lightly browned, 3 minutes. Add zucchini and cook 5 minutes more. Stir in tomatoes, chickpeas, water, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper. Increase heat to high and cook 15 minutes more (if sauce looks like it's getting too thick, cover).
2. Meanwhile, make polenta. In a medium saucepan, bring the broth and water to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and gradually sprinkle in the cornmeal, whisking constantly to prevent lumps from forming. Simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring often, until very thick. Stir in Parmesan cheese. Spoon polenta into shallow bowls and top with vegetable ragout. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese, if desired. Makes 4 servings.
Per serving: 340 calories, 7g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 1mg cholesterol, 838mg sodium, 60g carbohydrates, 13g protein, 168mg calcium, 9g fiber
Make it kid-friendly: Add some vegetable or chicken broth to the ragout to make a hearty vegetable soup. For extra fun, toss in some alphabet noodles, too.
Second-meal secret: The vegetable ragout makes a tasty pasta sauce. Try it with fettuccine or ziti, cooked according to package directions.
Pair it with: Turning Leaf 2002 Monterey County Riesling, California, $8 The honeysuckle, pear, and lemon notes of this white wine enhance the freshness of the vegetables, basil, and oregano in the sauce.
This dish takes some time to prepare, but cooking it is a snap. Steaming the food in parchment is a great way to retain a food's nutrients -- in this case, heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids in the salmon, calcium and iron in the broccoli, and fiber and antioxidants in the sweet potatoes.
Prep time: 45 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
1. Sprinkle salmon on both sides with salt and pepper. Set aside.
2. Heat oven to 425°F. In a medium saucepan bring broth to a boil over high heat. Add sweet potatoes and cook 1 minute. Add broccoli and cook 2 minutes more. Drain.
3. Fold 2 sheets of parchment paper in half and then in half again. Starting at the folded edge, cut each paper into a half-heart shape. Unfold so that you end up with 4 paper hearts. Lightly brush both sides of the paper with olive oil. Place 1/4 of the vegetables on half of one paper heart. Place a salmon fillet on top of vegetables. Combine the parsley, cilantro, lemon peel, thyme, and garlic in a cup, then sprinkle 1/4 of this mixture over the salmon and vegetables. Fold the top of the heart over the fish and vegetables, then crimp and fold the edges to tightly seal. Place on a baking sheet lightly coated with nonstick cooking spray. Repeat with remaining parchment paper, vegetables, salmon, and herbs so you end up with 4 packages on the baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes or until the paper is puffy and browned. Carefully cut open each package with the tip of a sharp knife, releasing the steam. Transfer contents to a plate. Makes 4 servings.
Per serving: 335 calories, 12.5g total fat, 2.5g saturated fat, 67mg cholesterol, 654mg sodium, 24g carbohydrates, 29g protein, 76mg calcium, 4g fiber
Make it kid-friendly: Wrap up some parchment packets without the broccoli or herb and lemon mixture; then serve some celery sticks on the side.
Second-meal secret: For a light seafood salad, break up pieces of salmon and toss with broccoli and chopped Romaine lettuce in a dressing made with extra-virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, and some Dijon mustard.
Pair it with: Blackstone Winery 2002 Monterey County Chardonnay, California, $11 This smooth white, with a light accent of oak, stands up to the buttery rich flavor of the salmon.
Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal magazine, April 2004.