One-Dish Meals Get A Heart-Healthy Makeover
When the winds howl and the temperature drops to the bone-chilling sub-zero range, there is nothing quite as welcoming as a simmering casserole or hearty soup, just like mom used to make. But while many family-favourite casserole recipes are heart-warming, they are not always heart-healthy.
That’s why the Beef Information Centre home economists, with the help of Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada dietitians, set to work giving popular one-dish meals a healthy makeover. "Our criteria were to maintain the flavour-intensity, while relying on heart-healthy cooking methods and updated ingredients," says Joyce Parslow, a home economist at the Beef Information Centre. "We also built in lots of easy preparation options to make sure the recipes fit into busy family schedules."
Now available free at the meat counter of participating grocery stores, the booklet Clever Casseroles contains recipes for old-but-new one-dish dinners, such as "Beef and Black Bean Chili" and "Mediterranean Beef & Pasta Bake" that are sure to please your doctor as well as your family.
"Casseroles that are built around lean or extra-lean ground beef and include lots of vegetables and legumes or whole grain pasta are packed with heart-healthy goodness," explains registered dietitian and nutrition consultant Zannat Reza. "By using lean and extra-lean ground beef, the amount of fat is reduced. And the good news is that you’ll still get all of the 14 essential nutrients, including iron, that you would find in a steak or roast. That’s why the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada allows lean and extra lean ground beef to carry the Health Check(tm) indicating that they can be part of a healthy eating pattern."
Reza shares some of her healthy recipe make-over strategies for you to use with your family favourite meals.
Start with lean or extra-lean ground beef, with less than 10% fat (extra-lean) or 17% fat (lean). Both contain 14 essential nutrients.
For oil-free frying, use non-stick pans and pan-fry lean ground beef with vegetables over medium heat. Stir occasionally.
Add flavour-packed ingredients in small amounts. Try aged Cheddar, Parmesan and feta cheeses, pesto, sun-dried tomatoes and olives.
Punch up the aroma and taste with a pinch of fresh herbs or citrus peel or a splash of vinegar or citrus juices.
Be generous when adding vegetables. Use different coloured vegetables to get a burst of antioxidants.
When adding salt, do so during cooking, not at the end. You’ll need less salt since you’ll get more complex flavours, not just salt flavour.
For a fibre boost, use whole wheat pasta in pasta dishes, or canned beans and chickpeas.
A can of this and a can of that make for easy short cuts. Just look for canned vegetables and soups that are lower in fat and have no added salt.
You can order a free copy of The Beef Information Centre’s new booklet, Clever Casseroles, full of heart-healthy cooking tips, on line at www.beefinfo.org or by calling the toll-free number 1-888-248-BEEF (2333).
Here’s one of the recipes from that booklet.
ITALIAN-STYLE HAMBURGER SOUP
Hamburger soups are everyone’s favourite. This simple version can be made with just about whatever vegetables you have in the fridge or freezer. It is super hearty - a stew-soup or "stoup" as one of our recipe testing families commented.
Heart-Healthy Makeover: Many hamburger soups start with a base of high-sodium packaged soup mixes, but this simple scratch version uses seasonings, low-sodium broth and canned tomatoes instead. Whole wheat pasta, an abundance of veggies, plus lean beef round out this heart-healthy approach.
Preparation: 15 minute
Cook beef, onion, garlic, carrot, celery, zucchini, Italian seasoning and chili pepper flakes in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat for 10 to 15 minutes until meat is thoroughly cooked and any liquid has evaporated.
Add tomatoes, broth and tomato sauce; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
Add spinach and parsley; stir in pasta; simmer 10 minutes longer or until pasta is tender.
Makes 8 servings. Per Serving (made with extra lean beef):
179 Calories; 17 g protein; 5 g fat; 19 g carbohydrate; 620 mg sodium
Good source of iron (21% DV) and excellent source of zinc (33% DV)
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