Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Eating less isn’t the only way to weigh less. While starving yourself can help you shed pounds, it isn’t healthy and will only leave you with stronger cravings and a stronger likelihood of caving on them than if you had eaten a moderate, balanced and healthy diet.

The key to losing weight and staying satisfied is to eat foods that are low in calories but high in bulk and fiber, such as vegetables, whole grains (such as pasta and rice) and low-fat soups.

Add a reasonable amount of healthier fats, such as olive and nut oils, a bit of fish or other lean protein, and a modest amount of cheese, and you have the backbone of the Mediterranean diet. It’s not just immensely satisfying, it’s also incredibly healthy.

The recipe for simmered Mediterranean vegetables and tuna is an excellent example of these tasty principles. Eggplant, tomatoes and zucchini are sauteed in olive oil, then simmered until tender. Chunk light tuna, chopped olives, capers and a small amount of feta cheese are stirred in at the end, and then the whole stew is served over whole-grain pasta.

The dish by itself is a complete meal, but adding a salad never hurts.

Simmered Mediterranean vegetables and tuna

From start to finish, this recipe takes 35 minutes and makes 4 servings.

28-ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 small eggplant ( 3/4 pound), peeled and cut into sticks 1/2-inch thick and 2 inches long

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 small zucchini, cut into sticks 1/2-inch thick and 2 inches long

8 ounces whole-grain bow-tie or other small pasta

6-ounce can water-packed chunk light tuna, drained and flaked

1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives, chopped

1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 tablespoon capers, rinsed

4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Meanwhile, drain the tomatoes, reserving 1 cup of juice. Set aside.

In a large nonstick skillet over high, heat the oil. Add the garlic and eggplant and saute until the garlic is golden, about 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium and stir in the salt and pepper. Cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is tender, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the zucchini, tomatoes and juice. Bring the mixture to a simmer, cover the pan and cook until the zucchini is tender, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in the boiling water according to package instructions. Drain well and transfer to a large serving bowl.

Stir the tuna, olives, parsley and capers into the vegetable mixture. Cook, stirring until heated through. Gently stir in the feta cheese. Spoon the mixture over the pasta.

Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 459 calories; 119 calories from fat; 13 g fat (5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 51 mg cholesterol; 61 g carbohydrate; 27 g protein; 10 g fiber; 1,225 mg sodium.

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