Good Food That's Good For You

IN THE KITCHEN

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You don't have to be a superhero to create scrumptious, heart-healthy meals. During National Cholesterol Month (September), the American Heart Association is making it easier for you and your family to eat low-fat, low-cholesterol meals.

Simplify your eating plan

Eating a wide variety of foods that are low in saturated fat and cholesterol, cutting down on high-fat ones, especially those high in saturated fat is an easy way to help lower your cholesterol. If you know what you are looking for, being able to identify foods has never been easier. Take, for example, foods bearing the American Heart Association's red heart with the white check mark. Grocery shopping using the heart-check mark is one step toward building a healthy eating plan. The heart-check mark is on many different foods, and helps consumers quickly and reliably select foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol as part of a balanced, heart-healthy eating plan. All foods bearing the heart-check mark meet the American Heart Association's criteria for saturated fat and cholesterol for healthy people over age 2.

You have more important things to worry about -- spending hours at the grocery store shopping for heart-healthy foods shouldn't be one of them.

The first place to start a heart smart lifestyle is at the grocery store.

Shop smart. Live well.

Look for the heart-check mark.

All products bearing the red heart with the white check mark meet the American Heart Association's nutrition criteria per standard serving:

  • Low fat (less than or equal to 3 grams)
  • Low saturated fat (less than or equal to 1 gram)
  • Low cholesterol (less than or equal to 20 milligrams)
  • Moderate in sodium, with less than or equal to 480 milligrams for individual foods
  • Nutritious, containing at least 10 percent of the Daily Value of one or more of these naturally occurring nutrients: protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron or dietary fiber

For meats to be eligible for the heart-check mark, they must meet the USDA standard for extra lean. Log on to www.heartcheckmark.org for more information.

Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Ricotta and Goat Cheese

Vegetable oil spray

Stuffing

7 ounces fat-free or reduced-fat ricotta cheese

2 ounces soft goat cheese

2 tablespoons snipped fresh parsley or 2 teaspoons dried, crumbled

1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives or chopped green onions (green part only)

Sauce

1 (8-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato sauce

2 teaspoons salt-free Italian herb seasoning

1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dried, crumbled

1 medium garlic clove, minced

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 4 ounces each), all visible fat discarded

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray 1-quart casserole dish with vegetable oil spray.

In small bowl, stir together stuffing ingredients.

In another small bowl, stir together sauce ingredients.

Put chicken with smooth side up between two pieces of plastic wrap. Using tortilla press, smooth side of meat mallet or rolling pin, lightly flatten breasts to 1/4 inch thick, being careful not to tear meat.

Spoon about one-quarter of stuffing down middle of each breast. Starting with short end, roll up breast jelly-roll style.

Place breast in prepared casserole dish with seam side down (no need to secure with toothpicks). Repeat with other breasts.

Spoon sauce over breasts.

Bake, covered, 40 to 45 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink in center. Serves 4.

Per serving: 236 calories, 5.5 grams total fat, 3.5 grams saturated fat, 0.5 grams polyunsaturated fat, 1.5 grams monounsaturated fat, 81 milligrams cholesterol, 481 milligrams sodium, 7 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 36 grams protein

Cucumber-Melon Salad with Raspberry Vinegar

1 medium cucumber

1/2 large cantaloupe, seeds and peel discarded

1 bunch of radishes, cleaned

1/4 cup raspberry vinegar

Pepper (optional)

4 lettuce leaves

Partially peel cucumber in strips, leaving some dark green to add color. Cut cucumber into bite-size pieces and put in medium bowl.

Cut cantaloupe into cubes or use melon baller to scoop out small balls. Add to cucumber pieces.

Thinly slice radishes. Add to cucumber and cantaloupe.

Toss salad with vinegar. Sprinkle with pepper.

Refrigerate, covered, until chilled, about 30 minutes to 1 hour. Serve on plates lined with lettuce. Serves 4.

Per serving: 50 calories, 0.0 grams total fat, 0.0 grams saturated fat, 0.0 grams polyunsaturated fat, 0.0 grams monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 24 milligrams sodium, 11 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 2 grams protein

Recipes reprinted with permission from "Low-Fat, Low-Cholesterol Cookbook," Third Edition, Copyright ©2004 by the American Heart Association.

Recipes from Family Features, Inc.

Cut out fat and cholesterol

Here are some smart tips for cutting fat and cholesterol from your diet:

  • Fill your shopping cart with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, which are naturally low in saturated fat and cholesterol.
  • Choose whole-grain products, including oatmeal, rice and whole-grain breads.
  • Select extra-lean protein sources like skinless poultry, fish, legumes and lean meats.
  • Substitute low-fat, low-cholesterol snacks for traditional high-fat, empty-calorie snacks. Try baked tortilla chips and salsa or fruit and low-fat yogurt dip.
  • Roast your vegetables in a hot oven to caramelize their natural sugars and bring out flavor without extra sauce or calories.
  • Cut down on saturated fat in creamy dressings by mixing in some nonfat or low-fat plain yogurt.

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