those New Year’s resolutions working out for you?
resolutions to eat better and lose weight are born from
holiday binge-eating guilt and regret. Some of us actually eat
more sweets and goodies and egg nog during the holidays than
we ordinarily would, knowing that come the new year we will be
resolving to eat less.
has come. The time is here. The time is now. And the
resolutions that we made so recently are withering and dying
fear. We are here to help with an assortment of recipes that
taste good and are good for you.
not saying "taste good and are good for you" because
it is a food-writers’ trite cliché. These recipes actually
do, and they actually are.
start with one of the great international comfort foods, pasta
e fagioli. Popular throughout southern Italy — and by
extension, New Jersey — it is often pronounced "pasta
fazool" (especially in New Jersey). However you pronounce
it, it is hearty, it is delicious and it is just 204 calories
for a main-course serving.
also inexpensive. Pasta e fagioli is the dish that
traditionally was made at the end of the pay period when the
wallet was thin and the lira and dollars were few. But it has
such happy associations that it now shows up on the menus of
the trendiest and priciest Italian restaurants.
fagioli is bean and noodle soup; that’s all. But it’s more
than that. For many people, it is the heart of Italy.
dish was created when I was asked to bring a vegetarian soup
to a potluck lunch. I couldn’t decide whether to make an
onion soup or a mushroom soup, so I decided to combine the
two. After all, with their shared earthy flavors, mushrooms
and onions go uncommonly well together such as in the classic
mixture of duxelles. I decided to make, essentially, a
secret to any onion soup is to take your time. Thinly sliced
onions have to caramelize in butter (or olive oil if you want
to make it vegan) at a low temperature for a long time in
order to bring out their wonderful natural sweetness. I took
about an hour to caramelize mine, and the onions were so sweet
that one person who tried the soup asked if I had put any
sugar into it.
It was nothing but onions, at least for that initial layer of
flavor. I used a mixture of white onions and red onions for a
little extra complexity.
next flavor layer, I sautéed some mushrooms, again mixing
white button mushrooms and cremini (which are also known as
baby portobellos) for added interest. These I cooked with just
a few sprigs of thyme and a healthy splash of a medium-dry
sherry. I used an amontillado because I like the way it tastes
and because I have a literary bent.
the kind of dish where the calories are low, but you would
never know it from all of the flavor.
was next turned by a recipe for Beef and Barley with Carrots
and Mushrooms. First, I was intrigued by the thought of what
is essentially a rice pilaf made with barley, a tragically
underused grain. And second, I liked the symmetry of making a
solid-dish version of a soup (beef and barley) after I had
just cooked a soup version of a solid dish (duxelles).
hearty barley was made even more nutty and delicious by the
addition of the water I had used to soak dried porcini
mushrooms. The carrots added a touch of sweetness to
counteract the meaty, bold flavor of the rest of the dish.
still wanted more low-calorie dishes. I rarely cook with beef
because of the fat and the calories, so naturally I liked the
challenge of making another healthful weight-losing dish with
it. But I cheated. I turned to Japanese cuisine, which is one
of the most healthy, lowest-calorie cooking there is.
I uncheated, so to speak. The recipe I chose, which the
Japanese cookbook called Gyuniku to broccoli no itame-ni, is
utterly unrelated to Japanese cuisine. The writers, as it
turns out, appear to have left out a vital ingredient (stock),
which would have changed the cooking method (simmering the
meat in a broth) and made the meal a lot more Japanese.
I made the dish as the recipe instructed. Made this way, it
turned out to be very similar to the familiar Chinese-American
dish Beef With Broccoli, and it is an excellent version of it,
too. You can eat it on its own, as I did, or serve it with
had plenty of energy, probably from eating all those holiday
goodies, so I decided to make one last low-cal dish. It is
hard to find a cut of meat with fewer calories than pork
tenderloin, so that is what I used for a very simple meal.
relatively simple. It requires two different stages of
cooking, one on top of the stove and one in the oven. And you
have to mix together a wet rub from just a handful of
ingredients first, but that’s easy, too.
problem with a dish this easy is you don’t burn off a lot of
calories to make it.
to 4 servings
teaspoon dried thyme
teaspoon coarse salt (less if using table salt)
teaspoon black pepper
tablespoons olive oil, divided
tenderloins, about 2 1/2 pounds total
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
together garlic, thyme, salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon of the
olive oil. Spread evenly over pork tenderloins and set aside
for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large, ovenproof skillet and
heat over medium-high heat until hot. Add tenderloins and sear
all over, about 8 to 10 minutes.
skillet in oven and cook until pork reaches an internal
temperature of 150 degrees for medium. This will take about 10
to 15 more minutes; do not overcook. Allow pork to rest on a
plate for 3 minutes before slicing.
serving (based on 4): 365 calories; 15 g fat; 4 g saturated
fat; 149 mg cholesterol; 53 g protein; no carbohydrate; no
sugar; no fiber; 357 mg sodium; 19 mg calcium.
by Daniel Neman
pound (12 ounces) broccoli
button (white) mushrooms
tablespoon sake, dry sherry or dry vermouth
tablespoon rice vinegar
tablespoon sesame oil
tablespoon granulated sugar
tablespoon vegetable oil
a sharp knife, slice the beef into thin, bite-sized strips.
Wash the broccoli and divide into florettes, discarding the
rest of the broccoli or reserving for another use. Wipe and
trim the mushrooms and cut them in half. Peel the garlic and
slice finely. In a small bowl, thoroughly mix together the
sake, rice vinegar, sesame oil, water, sugar and cornstarch.
the vegetable oil in a wok, large skillet or large saucepan
over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 30
seconds to 1 minute.
the mushrooms and sauté lightly. Stir in the broccoli and
beef and sauté to brown the beef. Cover and cook until
broccoli is crisp-tender and beef is cooked through, about 5
the sake-cornstarch mixture and stir until sauce thickens.
serving: 233 calories; 15 g fat; 4 g saturated fat; 38 mg
cholesterol; 13 g protein; 11 g carbohydrate; 6 g sugar; 1 g
fiber; 107 mg sodium; 33 mg calcium.
adapted from "Step-by-Step Japanese Cooking" by
Lesley Downer and Minoru Yoneda
BARLEY WITH CARROTS AND MUSHROOMS
package (1/2 ounce) dried porcini mushrooms
beef top round steak, 3/4 inch thick
teaspoons olive oil, divided
tablespoon soy sauce
button (white) mushrooms, sliced
carrots, peeled, cut lengthwise in half, then crosswise into
¼-inch thick slices
onion, finely chopped
teaspoon ground black pepper
teaspoon dried thyme
cups pearl barley
1/2-ounce) can chicken broth
loosely packed fresh parsley leaves
medium bowl, pour boiling water over porcini; let stand 10
minutes or more.
Meanwhile, cut steak lengthwise in half. With knife held in
slanted position, almost parallel to cutting surface, slice
each half of steak crosswise into 1/8-inch thick slices.
3. In a
deep nonstick 12-inch skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of the oil over
medium-high heat until very hot. Add half of steak slices and
cook until they just lose their pink color, about 2 minutes,
stirring constantly. Transfer steak to medium bowl; repeat
with remaining oil and steak. Toss steak with soy sauce; set
same skillet, add white mushrooms, carrots, onion, salt,
pepper and thyme and cook over medium-high heat until
vegetables are tender-crisp, about 10 minutes, stirring
vegetables are cooking, remove porcini from soaking water with
slotted spoon, reserving the liquid. Rinse porcini to remove
any sand; coarsely chop. Strain soaking water through sieve
lined with paper towel into medium bowl and set aside.
barley, broth, porcini and mushroom-soaking water to
vegetables in skillet; heat mixture to boiling over
medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer
until barley and vegetables are tender and most of the liquid
has evaporated, 35 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir
in steak mixture and parsley; heat through.
serving: 354 calories; 9 g fat; 3 g saturated fat; 46 mg
cholesterol; 23 g protein; 46 g carbohydrate; 3 g sugar; 9 g
fiber; 728 mg sodium; 50 mg calcium.
adapted from "400 Healthy Recipes," by Good
tablespoon olive oil
rib celery, sliced
1/2-ounce) can vegetable broth (1 3/4 cups)
1 (15 to
19-ounce) can cannelini beans (white kidney beans), rinsed and
1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
cloves, crushed and minced
teaspoon granulated sugar
teaspoon ground black pepper
tubettini or ditalini pasta (I used small elbow macaroni)
(10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach
1. In a
5- to 6-quart Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat until hot.
Add onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until
vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a 2-quart saucepan, heat broth and water to
boiling over high heat.
beans, tomatoes, garlic, sugar, salt and pepper to onion
mixture; heat to boiling over high heat. Add broth mixture and
pasta; heat to boiling. Reduce heat to medium and cook 5
minutes. Add frozen spinach; cook, stirring frequently to
separate spinach, 3 to 4 minutes longer.
serving: 204 calories; 4 g fat; 1 g saturated fat; no
cholesterol; 10 g protein; 33 g carbohydrate; 8 g sugar; 8 g
fiber; 1,026 mg sodium; 150 mg calcium
from "400 Healthy Recipes" by Good Housekeeping
white onions, sliced thin
red onions, sliced thin
button mushrooms, sliced
cremini mushrooms (baby portobellos), sliced
fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried
vegetable or chicken stock
dry sherry or white wine
cider vinegar, if needed
butter in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium-low heat. Add
white and red onions, and season with salt and pepper. Cook,
stirring occasionally, until onions begin to turn brown. This
could take from 1 to 2 hours, depending on your stove’s
Remove onions with a slotted spoon and add mushroom slices and
thyme. Cook until mushrooms are tender.
Return onions to the pot, along with stock and sherry. Raise
heat and bring to a simmer. Taste, and add salt and pepper if
needed. If soup is too sweet for your taste, add vinegar, 2
tablespoons at a time, until it is as sweet and sour as you
serving: 124 calories; 6 g fat; 3 g saturated fat; 15 mg
cholesterol; 5 g protein; 12 g carbohydrate; 5 g sugar; 1 g
fiber; 234 mg sodium; 22 mg calcium.
by Daniel Neman