For a healthier eating style, nutritionists say, plan your dinner around the vegetable. Let the meat, fish or poultry be a smaller-portion side dish.
It's an idea worth trying, and easier than you might think. Produce counters in supermarkets seem to be constantly getting bigger and more varied. Just a few years ago, zucchini was a seasonal vegetable; now we see it year-round. Ditto for red and green peppers. Bright red tomatoes on the vine are shipped in from Holland. They're expensive, but good. The list goes on.With the microwave, you can quickly and easily do many interesting things with vegetables. The microwave preserves the bright color of the vegetables, so they look appetizing, too.
And there's another advantage. These recipes, all from "Light & Healthy Microwave Cooking" by Janet Emal and Elizabeth Taylor, show how low in calories and low in fat vegetable dishes can be, too.
The first recipe, for an old-fashioned corn pudding, illustrates how the calories can be pared on a traditional recipe by adjusting the ingredients slightly.
Woodene Merriman is the author of "Zap It Again," featuring more than 400 ways to use your microwave. To order, send your name and address and a check for $10.07 ($8.50 plus $1.57 for postage and handling), payable to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, to Zap It Cookbook, Box 476, Pittsburgh, Pa. 15230. Allow two weeks for delivery.
1 16-ounce can cream-style corn
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons chopped green bell pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1/2 cup skim milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup crushed round butter crackers
Paprika to taste
Coat round 9-inch microwave-safe dish with cooking spray. Combine corn, eggs, bell pepper, onion, milk, sugar and crackers in prepared dish. Cover tightly. Microwave on 50 percent power (medium) 7 minutes. Stir; sprinkle with paprika.
Adjust power to 70 percent (medium-high). Microwave 4 to 5 minutes or until a knife inserted near center comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes. Serves 6.
- 143 calories; 3 g fat.
SESAME SNOW PEAS AND MUSHROOMS
8 ounces fresh snow peas, ends and strings removed
3 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced (1 cup)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
In a 1-quart microwave-safe casserole dish, combine snow peas, mushrooms, oil and soy sauce. Cover tightly.
Microwave on 100 percent power (high) 3 minutes or until peas are tender-crisp. Serves 4.
- 67 calories, 1.7 g fat.
2 medium zucchini, cut in half lengthwise
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup chopped fresh tomato
1/2 cup shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese (2 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon dried leaf basil
1/8 teaspoon dried leaf marjoram
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Hollow out inside of each zucchini half, leaving a 1/4-inch-thick shell. Chop zucchini pulp. Mix pulp, green onions, tomato, 1/4 cup of cheese, basil, marjoram and pepper. Fill zucchini halves with mixture, mounding well.
Place in a shallow microwave-safe dish. Cover tightly. Microwave on 100 percent power 5 to 6 minutes or until zucchini is tender. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Let stand 5 minutes. Serves 4.
- 79 calories, 4.8 g fat.