Cooking with a prudent regard for fat content doesn't have to limit your horizons, literally or figuratively.
Hearty dishes with zippy, offbeat seasonings can be tailored for the health-watching crowd. Check out the selection of low-fat recipes with an international flavor offered in the American Heart Association's "Around the World Cookbook" (Times Books, $17, ring-bound paperback).
Choose your cuisine, go as exotic as you wish. There are chapters on eight different regions, including German and Middle Eastern, Asian and Caribbean. Consider Stuffed Flank Steak from Argentina or the classic French dessert Crepes Suzettes With Raspberries.
The following recipes are for Grilled Fish With Cumin-Lemon Rub, from Saudi Arabia, and Calypso Rice, from Trinidad (the book suggests you serve this "when you want to add a little fun to the dinner table"). Try them together or experiment by using them in any other combination you fancy.
The fish can also be cooked under an indoor grill.
GRILLED FISH WITH CUMIN-LEMON RUB
8 teaspoons ground cumin, or to taste
4 small onions, pureed
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
4 teaspoons olive oil
4 small mild-flavored fish or four 4-ounce fillets, such as flounder, orange roughy, catfish or grouper
Prepare grill. Soak eight or twelve 8-inch wooden skewers in water for 10 minutes.
In a small bowl or cup, mix cumin with onion puree and a little of the lemon juice to make a paste. Add more juice as needed. Stir in oil.
Rinse fish and pat dry with paper towels. If using whole fish, cut a few deep slashes in the sides to allow the seasonings in and to speed cooking. Rub a little of the seasoning mixture on the whole fish, inside and out, or on both sides of fillets.
Thread fish on skewers (use an in-and-out "basting stitch") and grill over hot coals for about 5 minutes on each side, or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. The fish should still be moist. Serve hot with lemon wedges.
Makes 4 servings.
Cook's note: Some fish, particularly thin fillets, may be too fragile to stay on the skewer. If in doubt, use a grill basket, available in most kitchenware shops, to hold the fish fillets. Be careful not to overgrill — the fish will continue to cook a little after it's off the heat.
Nutrition information per serving: 181 cal., 7 g total fat (1 g saturated), 56 mg chol., 21 g pro., 9 g carbo., 98 mg sodium.
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup no-sugar-added pineapple juice
1 cup uncooked rice
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
In a medium saucepan, bring broth and pineapple juice to a boil over high heat. Stir in remaining ingredients except parsley. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed. Fluff rice with a fork and serve with fresh parsley sprinkled on top.
Makes 8 servings ( 1/2 cup each).
Nutrition information per serving: 114 cal., 0 g fat, 0 mg chol., 3 g pro., 24 g carbo., 158 mg sodium.