Eat Smarter

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Six Smart Solutions

5. Go vegetarian sometimes

Replacing a meat-based meal two or three times a week with one built on vegetables is not only economical but also healthy. Be sure to plan your menu to include lean nonmeat protein, such as eggs, beans or soy.

Roasted vegetable frittata Roasting the vegetables intensifies their flavor and can be done a day ahead.

Prep time: 35 minutes Baking time: 50 minutes

  • 1 tablespoon plus 11/2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 red bell peppers, cut into quarters
  • 2 yellow bell peppers, cut into quarters
  • 4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 2 zucchini (1 lb.), cut into 3x1/2- inch-thick slices
  • 1 onion, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Arrange oven racks on lower and center third of oven. Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Line the bottoms of a broiler and a jelly-roll pan with foil. Brush pans with 1 teaspoon oil.

Arrange bell peppers and garlic on one pan and zucchini and onion on the other. Brush vegetables with 1 tablespoon oil. Roast zucchini and onion on lower rack and bell peppers and garlic on center rack 15 minutes. Remove zucchini and onion from oven. Transfer bell peppers to lower rack; roast 10 minutes more, until charred. Cool vegetables 5 minutes. Remove garlic from skins. Coarsely chop garlic and vegetables. Transfer to bowl. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt and parsley. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

Brush a 9-inch nonstick cake pan with remaining oil. Whisk eggs, remaining salt and ground red pepper in a bowl. Stir in vegetables and Parmesan. Pour mixture into a cake pan.

Bake 50 minutes, until center is set. Cool in pan 5 minutes. Invert fritatta onto a large serving plate, then invert again. Makes 6 servings.

Per serving: 230 calories, 16.5 g total fat, 4 g saturated fat, 288 mg cholesterol, 480 mg sodium, 10 g carbohydrates, 12 g protein, 135 mg calcium, 2 g fiber

6. Eat breakfast and lose weight

Perhaps the best reason to eat this meal is that after an overnight fast, your body needs fuel to get moving. Otherwise, metabolism slows, which reduces how many calories you burn. Another side effect of missed breakfast is you'll be more apt to overeat at lunch. Studies have shown that children who skip breakfast have difficulty concentrating during the day. It's true for adults, too.

Banana oat muffins These tasty muffins freeze beautifully, so you can have a supply at the ready for the a.m. rush.

Prep time: 20 minutes Baking time: 20 to 22 minutes

  • 2 1/4 cups old-fashioned oats, divided
  • 3/4 cup rye or whole-wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger, divided
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 large ripe banana, mashed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line twelve 2 1/2-inch muffin-pan cups with cupcake/muffin liners.

Process 2 cups oats in a food processor until fine. Transfer oats to a bowl; stir in flour, 1/3 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon ginger. Whisk together buttermilk, banana, eggs, 2 tablespoons oil and vanilla in bowl. Stir buttermilk mixture into flour mixture until blended.

Combine remaining oats, sugar, oil, cinnamon and ginger in a cup.

Spoon batter into muffin-pan cups. Sprinkle tops with oat mixture. Bake 20 to 22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean. (Can be made ahead. Wrap and freeze up to 1 month. Thaw at room temperature 2 hours.) Makes 12 muffins.

Per muffin: 160 calories, 4.5 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 36 mg cholesterol, 222 mg sodium, 25 g carbohydrates, 5 g protein, 62 mg calcium, 3 g fiber

7. Get your five-a-day

The science is loud and clear: Fruits and vegetables are nutritional gold mines, yet most Americans eat only about one quarter serving of produce a day. And half of us eat no fruits at all on some days. While supplements can supply vitamins, minerals and fiber, they can't supply other nutrients, like phytochemicals and antioxidants, in produce that help maintain health, improve immunity and reduce effects of aging. A "serving" is only about half a cup, so a five-a-day program is a doable goal.

8. Go nuts

A handful of peanuts, a few chopped walnuts, pecans -- there's good reason to enjoy them more often. Although nuts are a high-fat food, they are an excellent source of fiber, zinc snd iron, plus the antioxidants vitamin E and selenium. Some research shows that when people include nuts in their diet, total calorie intake does not increase, and appetite may actually decrease. There is no evidence to show that weight gain is associated with eating nuts as part of a healthy diet.

9. Have a snack

Research shows that when people snack, they are less likely to overeat at meals. A typical three-meals-a-day-no-snack pattern of eating can be unhealthy if you eat lunch at noon and must wait six to seven hours for dinner, as the body is better able to absorb and use the nutrients in foods when intervals between meals are shorter. Plan snacks as mini meals, with some protein, carbohydrates and just a bit of fat to carry you to your next meal.

10. Fill up on folate

Folate (a.k.a. folic acid, folacin) is a crucial nutrient in normal fetal development. Without adequate folate in the early stages of pregnancy, a woman has a greater risk of having a baby with neural tube defects, such as spina bifida. Folate is also associated with decreased risk of cervical cancer and heart disease. Researchers are so convinced that folate is vital to health that dietary recommendations have recently been doubled. Dark-green leafy vegetables and legumes are especially rich sources, as are most enriched grain products.

Continued on page 3:  Final Five Winners


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