Dr. Dean Ornish, co-founder of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute and author of Eat More, Weigh Less and Program For Reversing Heart Disease, reconfirms what recent health studies and kitchen table wisdom suggests. Many of us would do well to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and cut down on fatty, empty-calorie foods.
Creative, easy to prepare produce can pack a nutritional punch and excite the senses, too. Transform ho-hum fare into mouthwatering delights by trying the following hints:
- Steam a medley of carrots, broccoli, corn, and red pepper, and season with fresh chopped dill or parsley and a teaspoon of olive oil. Serve with chunks of leftover lean, grilled meat, fish, poultry, or beans and rice for a one-dish meal.
- Substitute applesauce or pureed ripe bananas for an equivalent amount of butter or oil in baking for a low-fat switch.
- Turn traditional recipes into spa cuisine. Eliminate fatty cuts of meat or cheese in pasta sauce or stews, and replace with lean protein, onion, celery, carrots and spinach instead.
- Combine sliced avocado, lettuce, tomato, chick peas, and feta cheese and put into a whole wheat pita. Chop and mix fresh tomato, olives, and capers and spread on rice cakes. Munch on a handful of raisins, dried apricots, and dates for an energy booster.
- Sauté chard, kale, or dandelion greens in chopped garlic and basil-oregano flavored olive oil (one tablespoon oil) or combine with freshly grated ginger and soy sauce and a drop of oil.
- Squeeze lemon or lime juice on mixed veggies, without adding calories. Tomatillos, cilantro, and jalapeno peppers provide a south-of-the-border flair to roasted green beans, kidney beans, onions, and red pepper.
- Bake potatoes, yams, onions, eggplant, or pumpkin slowly in a conventional oven for a crisp, sweet flavor.
- Serve apple, plum, and pear compote or fresh melon, grapefruit, and mixed fruit salads as great starters for your meals.
The Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight Pyramid recommends at least four portions of vegetables and a three-portion minimum of fruits per day. A portion equals two cups of leafy vegetables or one cup of solid vegetable or one-half cup of fruit. It permits unlimited amounts of fresh fruits such as orange segments, apples and peaches, and unlimited portions of salad (with nonfat dressing) and/or steamed vegetables.