- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Like butter to a biscuit, I’m drawn to fresh fruits and vegetables at this time of the year. It’s impossible to resist the mounds of peppers, corn, tomatoes and root vegetables that beckon from the farmers market.

Unlike those buttered biscuits I should be avoiding for the sake of my waistline, there’s no reason to curtail my appetite for produce. Eating more fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk for heart disease, certain cancers and certain age-related degenerative eye conditions.

If you’re also mesmerized by the selection in your supermarket produce section or farmers market, you may wonder how to incorporate all those marvelous fruits and vegetables into your meals. It can be a challenge if you’re cooking for one or two.

Here are some tips.

m Make a large bowl of fruit salad, including apples, pears, grapes, raspberries and blueberries. Sprinkle with a little lemon juice to prevent the apples and pears from browning. Serve yourself fruit salad with breakfast and as an after-dinner snack. Keep the salad in the refrigerator up to three days.

m Prepare a healthy dip using fat-free yogurt, reduced-fat mayonnaise, and fresh herbs such as dill weed, chives and mint. Pair the dip with fresh mushroom or zucchini slices for a snack.

m Use up odds and ends of vegetables in omelets. For example, chop up a couple of mushrooms, a bit of bell pepper, zucchini and corn. Saute in butter for five minutes and stir into beaten eggs. Cook and top with shredded Asiago cheese.

• Double the vegetables in any soup. There’s no rule that one vegetable has to dominate. Add all your harvest favorites to the pot, but firmer vegetables first.

Chicken and tomatillo soup

2 tablespoons butter

3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut in ½-inch pieces (1 very large or 2 small breast halves)

3 tablespoons flour, divided

1 jalapeno chili, cored, seeded and minced

1 red or yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped

1 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms

1 cup corn kernels (see note)

2 cups chicken broth

2 medium tomatillos, husked, cored and finely chopped

1 tablespoon minced chives

2 teaspoons lime juice

Salt and pepper

Melt butter in a large saucepan. Place chicken in a paper or plastic bag along with 2 tablespoons flour. Shake bag to coat chicken with flour. Add chicken to saucepan and brown over medium heat, about 5 minutes total. Remove chicken and set aside.

Add chili, bell pepper, mushrooms and corn to saucepan. Saute for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon flour. Stir until flour forms a paste. Gradually stir in chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Add tomatillos and reserved chicken. Simmer for 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and tomatillos are tender. Stir in chives, lime juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Makes 2 servings.

Note: 1 cup of corn kernels is the equivalent of 1 large ear of fresh corn; if you prefer, use frozen corn.

Harvest salad

2 cups mixed baby greens

2 medium carrots, pared and trimmed

8 pecan halves

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

2 teaspoons canola oil

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon curry powder

Divide greens between 2 plates. Using a vegetable peeler, prepare 2-inch-long shreds of carrot and arrange over each serving. Sprinkle each serving with 4 pecan halves. Stir together orange juice, oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and curry powder in a cup. Pass the dressing. Makes 2 servings.

Note: You can experiment with other vegetables by shredding beets and parsnips over a salad.

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