- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 3, 2006

After a whirlwind of rich holiday cooking, your waistline probably needs a break.

However, once you’ve spoiled your taste buds with your favorite fattening foods, a regimen of lettuce and gruel is going to be hard to swallow.

Fortunately, you don’t have to take an either-or stance to healthy eating.

You can trim back on calories and fat and still enjoy a flavorful meal.

The key is to put more vegetables, legumes and whole grains on the plate while scaling back on high-calorie ingredients, including high-fat cheeses, cream, prime meat cuts and cooking oils.

Turn to intensely flavored condiments, such as soy sauce, hot pepper sauce, salsa and chutney, to give a little punch to your cooking.

It’s hard to go wrong if you divide your meal into fourths, making the protein portion one fourth, starch (preferably whole grains) another fourth and the remaining half of the plate dedicated to vegetables.

You can pair the protein with compatible ethnic vegetable and grain preparations. For example, serve stir-fry vegetables, udon noodles and poached chicken strips for an Asian touch, or serve a small broiled pork chop with a tomato, chili, bell pepper and rice salad for a Mexican flavor. You also can mix things up. The choice is yours.

The idea of creating three dishes for one meal may seem daunting, especially because most of us are used to preparing half that. Cooking skillet dinners in which the protein, vegetable and starch come together in one dish is a great solution.

In less than 20 minutes, you can have a healthy, low-fat and low-calorie entree of shrimp, black beans and snow peas on the table.

Shrimp, black bean and snow-pea skillet dinner

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1 small onion, thinly sliced

2 cups snow peas, cut vertically in half

½ pound peeled, deveined raw shrimp (about 20 large shrimp)

2½ tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons hoisin sauce

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 cup canned, rinsed black beans

Heat oil in medium-size skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and onion; saute for 2 minutes.

Add snow peas and saute 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in shrimp.

Cook over medium heat 1 to 2 minutes or until shrimp just begin to turn pink.

Reduce heat to low. Stir in soy sauce, hoisin sauce, pepper and black beans. Simmer for 3 to 5 minutes to heat through, stirring occasionally. Makes 2 servings.

Note: If desired, substitute 1 cup cooked brown rice for the black beans.


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