We’re crossing off the first month on the calendar for 2014. How are those New Year’s resolutions working for you? If white knuckling alone doesn’t do the trick, consider these strategies.
“Superfoods” have gotten their moniker for a reason after much study and testing. They are the perfect friend for a new year of resolutions. The following solutions that cover nutrient-filled choices — like seafood, soy, fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains — take just 10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare.
This may seem surprising, since the gourmet results include such treats as a white bean spread filled with mixed nuts, curry powder and ground ginger; a Thai-influenced soup packed with whitefish (which can come conveniently frozen, just like the inexpensive salmon that follows is canned), lemongrass, shallots and lime juice; and chocolate soy milk accompanied by sugar-free chocolate sandwich cookies, whipped cream, granola and diced dried cherries.
Cooking can be easy, nutritious, inexpensive, fun — and fast —-- as these menus of split-second family-friendly sensations prove. The dishes are delicious evidence that everyone has time for tasty home cooking and, more importantly, the healthy family time around the kitchen table that goes along with it!
Another benefit: You effortlessly become a better cook, since there are no right or wrong amounts. These are virtually-can’t-go-wrong combinations, so whatever you — or your kid helpers — choose to use can’t help but draw “wows” at the family dinner table.
Resolution: Eat more fish
Pull a Fast One with Fish: Got some fish foes in your family? If so, consider hiding the protein-packed, low-fat powerhouse in some soup. Whitefish has no flavor and is also available conveniently frozen. Bake, poach or broil it and add to a soup with bold flavors, like a Thai-influenced one with vegetable broth, freshly ground black pepper, peeled and thinly sliced shallots, trimmed and outer layer discarded minced lemongrass, minced fresh ginger, chopped shiitake mushrooms, chopped basil, cayenne pepper, lime juice, soy sauce and udon noodles.
Don’t Can These Simple Salmon Sandwiches: Canned salmon is a reasonably priced wonderful staple to have on hand. Salmon and walnuts are two of the best sources of the highly touted omega-3 fatty acids. In a strong blender or food processor, make a paste with drained canned salmon, walnuts, freshly ground black pepper and packaged Italian seasoning blend. In a bowl, mix with low-fat mayonnaise, diced celery and diced black olives and serve as a sandwich spread on toasted whole-grain bread.
Resolution: Eat more fruits, vegetables and legumes
White Bean Spread in a Whiz: A one-half cup serving of easy-to-use canned white beans (also known as cannellini or navy beans, after its use as a staple by the U.S. Navy since the mid-1800s) has 110 calories, 0.5 grams of unsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 19 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of fiber, 7 grams of protein and 440 milligrams of sodium, and, due to its mild flavor, the inexpensive ingredient has been used often by gourmet chefs in recent years.
Besides being wonderful in soups and salads and often put in Boston baked beans, it makes a super-quick base for a sandwich spread or dip for whole-grain crackers. In a strong blender or a food processor, blend the drained canned beans with mixed nuts, freshly ground black pepper, curry powder and ground ginger until it becomes a paste of medium thickness.
Shake it Up Salad: In a salad shaker, plastic beverage container or small pitcher with a lid, add mixed greens (iceberg lettuce has the least nutrition, greens like romaine and those that are red in color have much more), sliced French green beans, halved grape tomatoes, golden raisins, sunflower seeds, whole blackberries or sliced strawberries, store-bought low-fat raspberry vinaigrette, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, freshly ground black pepper and diced fresh rosemary leaves. Shake until well-mixed and everything is lightly coated with the dressing.
Resolution: Eat more soy
Team Tofu: As the co-author of the 1990 book “The Tofu Book: The New American Cuisine” with 150 recipes that’s still going strong, I know that tofu is the ultimate magician. It’s like all-purpose flour in that it has no flavor of its own, but the inexpensive ingredient takes on those of what it’s cooked or blended with.
Substitute drained silken tofu for ricotta cheese in your favorite lasagna recipe or mix it half and half with cream cheese in a classic cheesecake and most likely no one — including you — will know the difference.
Chocolate with Nothing to Hide: Crush sugar-free chocolate sandwich cookies, gently stir into store-bought chocolate soy milk, top with whipped cream, granola and diced dried cherries.
Resolution: Eat more whole grains
These Chips are Up, Not Down: Replace chips with a mixture of whole-grain cereals (such as Mini-Wheats and Raisin Bran) you’ve very lightly sprayed with nonstick cooking spray and drizzled with packaged Cajun seasoning blend before gently mixing.
Quinoa Equals Quality: Quinoa is an edible-seed grain-like crop that is a more complete protein than grains and, along with soy, one of the only non-meats that meets that criteria. Cook it according to package instructions, add a little soymilk, sugar-free sweetener, maple syrup, raisins you’ve plumped in water and diced peeled kiwi (widely available at supermarkets and often referred to as one of the superfoods).
Lisa Messinger is a first-place winner in food writing from the Association of Food Journalists and the author of seven food books, including “Mrs. Cubbison’s Best Stuffing Cookbook” and “The Sourdough Bread Bowl Cookbook.”