Some Basics For Building A Healthy Diet

IN THE KITCHEN

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As athletes know, a carbohydrate-rich diet is key to maintaining a competitive edge, but they're not the only ones who need carbs.

Today's busy schedules and hectic lifestyles mean families need the energy and nutrients of grain foods more than ever before. However, the high-protein diet wave is pulling parents and kids away from the health benefits grain foods and other carbohydrates provide.

"Right now, a lot of Americans think cutting carbs is the answer to weight loss," said Karin Kratina, Ph.D, R.D., and co-author of "It's the Calories, Not the Carbs: Exploring the Myths and Truths of Carbohydrates."

"What they don't realize is that cutting grain foods from the diet is bad for your health," Kratina said. "We should be eating what we want, but in moderation. That's the key to reaching your weight loss goal and attaining optimal health."

Here are some recipes to add more servings of healthy carbs:

Raisin Bread French Toast

2 eggs

2 egg whites

1/2 cup skim milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

Cooking spray, optional

8 slices raisin bread

Combine eggs, egg whites, milk, vanilla extract and nutmeg in shallow dish. Whisk together until well combined. Heat an electric griddle or shallow frying pan to medium heat. (Spray with cooking spray if griddle is not nonstick.) Dip each slice of raisin bread in egg mixture and place on heated griddle. Brown each side for several minutes until golden brown. Serve hot with your favorite jelly, jam, syrup or powdered sugar.

Makes approximately four servings of two slices each, with 242 calories.

Sun-Dried Tomato Spread

8 ounces light cream cheese

1 tablespoon prepared sun-dried tomato paste

1/2 teaspoon olive oil

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon white wine

Mix all ingredients in medium bowl until well blended.

Serve with your favorite grain foods. This spread is especially great on bagels, crackers and breadsticks.

Makes 10 servings of 1 ounce each, with 57 calories.

Vegetarian Sandwich

1 small zucchini

1 yellow bell pepper

4 to 5 large fresh mushrooms, sliced

Cooking spray

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Dried, sweet basil leaves, flavor to taste

2 tablespoons light, garden vegetable cream cheese

4 slices bread, toasted

1 medium tomato, 1/4-inch thick slices

Spinach leaves (optional)

Cut zucchini lengthwise into four (1/4-inch thick) slices. Cut pepper in fourths; remove seeds. Coat both sides of zucchini, pepper and mushrooms with cooking spray.

Place zucchini and peppers on grill rack or broiler pan coated with cooking spray; broil for 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until tender. Add mushrooms and broil for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from grill; sprinkle with salt, pepper and sweet basil leaves.

Spread cream cheese on toast. Layer zucchini, peppers, mushrooms and tomato on two slices of toast; add spinach, if desired. Top with remaining toast slices. Cut each sandwich in half.

Makes approximately two servings with 232 calories each.

For more recipes and information on the many health benefits of bread and other grain foods, visit www.wheatfoods.org or www.smartbread.com.

Mushroom and Cashew Stuffing

3/4-pound regular sliced white bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 8 cups)

1/4 cup butter or margarine

1 large red onion, chopped

1 large red pepper, chopped (about 2 cups)

1/2 pound button mushrooms, sliced

3 celery stalks, chopped

1 1/2 cups roasted, unsalted cashews, halves and pieces

2 tablespoons fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3/4 cup canned low-fat chicken broth

2 eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place bread cubes in a large, shallow baking pan and bake until golden, stirring occasionally (about 20 minutes). Transfer to large mixing bowl.

Turn oven down to 350 degrees.

Melt butter in large, heavy skillet. Add onion and cook until clear, stirring occasionally (about 10 minutes). Add red pepper, mushrooms and celery; cook until tender (about 5 to 7 minutes). Combine with bread in mixing bowl; add cashews, thyme, rosemary, nutmeg, broth and beaten eggs. Stir well and pour into an 8- x 8-inch greased baking pan or one of similar size. (Can be prepared a day ahead and refrigerated.) Cover and bake for about 1 hour.

Makes eight servings of 1 cup each, with 315 calories per serving.

Bread and Grain Foods -- Foundation for a healthy diet

Got grains? As the base of the Food Guide Pyramid, bread and grains are the foundation for healthy eating.

Eat a variety of foods and, instead of supersizing, try moderate portions to keep the weight off. Follow this guide for a balanced lifestyle and long-lasting health.

  • Bread, Cereal, Rice and Pasta Group (6 to 11 servings): An average bagel is the size of a hockey puck; a slice of bread is one serving; a 1 ounce dinner roll is the length of a Matchbox car; a baseball size of cereal counts as a serving; one serving of cooked pasta is a half cup or a computer mouse; one pancake is the size of a compact disc (CD).
  • Fruit Group (2 to 4 servings): A medium apple or orange is the size of a tennis ball; three-fourths of a cup of juice is a serving.
  • Vegetable Group (3 to 5 servings): A half-cup serving of cooked vegetables and a medium potato are the size of a computer mouse.
  • Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Eggs and Nuts Group (2 to 3 servings): Three ounces of meat is the size of a deck of cards; three ounces of grilled fish is the size of your checkbook.
  • Milk, Yogurt and Cheese Group (2 to 3 servings): 1 ounce of cheese is the size of four dice.
  • Fats, Oils and Sweets: Use sparingly.

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