Maintaining a healthy diet is a popular New Year’s resolution for many of us, and cooking at home is one of the ways some are choosing to achieve this goal.
Flavorful & healthful home cooking
One of the chief benefits of cooking at home is the ability to nurture healthier habits in your family. This is the mindset that’s driving “Generation Fresh” — a movement of home cooks committed to cooking more at home because they believe it is inherently healthier and delicious. You have the option to choose exactly what goes into your meals and create flavorful, fresh food that encourages sustainable, positive changes to the way you eat.
“When trying to eat better, it’s essential that the food we make at home is really enjoyable,” says Chef Mark Garcia from the McCormick Kitchens. “Luckily, it’s easy. By adding more herbs and spices to everyday cooking you can pump up flavor while gradually reducing salt, fat and sugar.”
To make your recipes more fresh and flavorful, the McCormick Kitchens recommend these small changes to family favorites:
• Replace the heavy breading on chicken tenders with a flour mixture spiced with paprika, black pepper and oregano. Bake it in the oven to reduce fat and calories.
• For a delicious twist on traditional chili, try using boneless, skinless chicken breasts with black beans and corn. Add authentic Southwest flavor with cumin, garlic powder and red pepper.
• For pasta night, load your sauce with veggies like zucchini, mushrooms and onions instead of meat. Build layers of rich flavor with garlic powder, black pepper and McCormick Perfect Pinch Italian Seasoning. Get a taste of this delicious tip with Tuscan Pasta.
For more ways to freshen up dinner, or for more about Generation Fresh, visit www.McCormick.com.
Preparation time: 15 minutes; cooking time: 25 minutes; makes 6 servings
1, 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
1, 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
2 teaspoons McCormick Garlic Powder
2 teaspoons McCormick Perfect Pinch Italian Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon McCormick Ground Black Pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound zucchini and/or yellow squash, sliced
1, 8-ounce package sliced mushrooms
1 small onion, chopped
6 ounces pasta, such as spaghetti or linguine
Shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)
Mix tomatoes, tomato sauce, sugar and seasonings in medium saucepan. Bring to boil on medium heat. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 20 minutes.
Heat oil in large skillet on medium-high heat. Add zucchini, mushrooms and onion; cook and stir 4 minutes or until vegetables are tender-crisp. Stir tomato sauce into vegetables.
Meanwhile, cook pasta as directed on package. Drain well. Place pasta in serving bowl. Add vegetable mixture; toss well. Sprinkle with shredded Parmesan cheese, if desired.
Family favorite meals get a makeover
There has been a makeover taking place in the past 40 years on a food that 94 percent of Americans eat at least monthly, according to the Consumer Beef Index. You may be surprised to learn of the many changes that have resulted in leaner beef found at your local grocery store.
It starts on the farm
Changes in the way farmers and ranchers raise cattle, in addition to increased fat trimming, has resulted in the widespread availability of leaner beef. In fact, more than two-thirds of the beef in the meat case — including popular cuts like top sirloin steak, tenderloin, T-bone steak and 90 percent lean or leaner ground beef — meet the government guidelines for lean, according to Fresh Look Marketing Group.
Leaner than ever
Due to a variety of factors, including recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, people now prefer leaner cuts of beef, and as a result, the total and saturated fat content from trimmed steak has steadily declined. In fact, data collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that total fat content for a trimmed top sirloin steak has declined 34 percent from 1963 to 2010 and saturated fat content has declined 17 percent between 1990 and 2010.
We all know that beef tastes great, but calorie-for-calorie, it is also one of the most naturally nutrient-rich foods. On average, a 3-ounce serving of lean beef is about 150 calories and provides 10 essential nutrients like protein, zinc, iron and B vitamins.
Even more great news is that new research suggests that beef can be good for heart health. Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that even eating lean beef daily – as part of a heart-healthy diet and lifestyle — can lower LDL (bad) cholesterol by up to 10 percent — as much as any other recommended heart-healthy diet. And adding lean beef to your diet is simple when you prepare quick and flavorful meals. Try this Asian Beef and Vegetable Stir-Fry, which takes only 30 minutes to prepare and boasts the flavors of top sirloin steak, bell peppers, garlic, sesame-ginger sauce and crushed red pepper. It’s sure to be a family favorite.
To learn more about lean beef’s nutrition and heart health benefits, and to find more flavorful recipes, visit www.BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com.
Asian Beef and Vegetable Stir-Fry
Cooking time: 30 minutes; makes: 4 to 6 servings
1-1/4 pounds boneless beef top sirloin steak, cut 1-inch thick, divided
4 cups assorted fresh vegetables, such as sugar snap peas, broccoli florets, bell pepper strips and shredded carrot
1 clove garlic, minced, divided
1/2 cup prepared stir-fry sauce, preferably sesame-ginger flavor
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3 cups hot cooked rice
2 tablespoons unsalted dry-roasted peanuts (optional)
Cut beefsteak lengthwise in half, then crosswise into 1/4-inch thick strips.
Combine vegetables and 3 tablespoons water in large nonstick skillet. Cover; cook over medium-high heat 4 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Remove and drain.
Heat same pan over medium-high heat until hot. Add half of beef and half of garlic; stir-fry 1 to 2 minutes, or until outside surface of beef is no longer pink. Remove. Repeat with remaining beef and garlic.
Return all beef and vegetables to pan. Add stir-fry sauce and red pepper; heat through. Spoon over rice. Sprinkle with peanuts, if desired.
Source: The Beef Checkoff
Spice up dinnertime
Whether it’s cooking for the family or company, everyone needs a few new ideas to turn ordinary meals into something special. Thai-Style Curry Beef and Pasta — chock-full of beef and fresh vegetables in a creamy coconut-curry sauce — shows how a little creativity can go a long way.
Start with pasta that offers more than just great taste. While Dreamfields pasta is made from durum wheat semolina, which ensures the taste and texture of traditional pasta, it also has the added nutrition of five grams of fiber per one cup cooked serving and fewer digestible carbohydrates. It’s a delicious and healthy alternative to traditional pasta that’s perfect for the whole family.
While the pasta cooks, prep the top sirloin steak. This boneless, tender cut of beef is economical and works great in this recipe. Slice it thin and toss with garlic for an extra flavor punch. The beef is quickly stir-fried, and then the broccoli, bell peppers and onions hit the skillet.
Kick up the creativity by adding a blend of sweet and spicy flavors — ginger, chili pepper, coconut milk and red curry paste — to give this dish an Asian flair. (Tip: red curry paste can be found in the Asian section of the supermarket, or visit an Asian market which is likely to have more brand choices.)
To serve, the colorful, fragrant stir-fry is tossed with perfectly cooked, al dente Dreamfields Spaghetti. In less than 30 minutes you have an Asian-inspired one-dish meal that transforms dinnertime from basic to extraordinary.
Visit www.DreamfieldsFoods.com for more recipes.
Thai-Style Curry Beef and Pasta
Preparation time: 20 minutes; cooking time: 15 minutes; makes 6 to 8 servings.
1 box Dreamfields Spaghetti
1 pound boneless beef top sirloin steak, about 3/4 to 1 inch thick
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil, divided
3 cups broccoli florets
1 medium bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch thick strips
1 medium onion, cut into 8 wedges
2 to 3 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1 Serrano or other hot chili pepper, minced
1, 14-ounce can light coconut milk
1/4 cup red curry chili paste
Finely chopped roasted peanuts (optional)
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain; return to pan.
Meanwhile, cut steak in half lengthwise, then crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices. Toss with garlic; set aside.
Heat 1-1/2 teaspoons oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of beef; stir-fry 1 to 2 minutes or until outside of beef is no longer pink. Remove from skillet. Repeat with remaining beef and 1-1/2 teaspoons oil. Remove from skillet.
Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to skillet. Add broccoli, bell pepper and onion. Cook and stir 1 minute. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons water; continue cooking and stirring 1 minute. Stir in ginger and chili pepper. Add combined coconut milk and curry paste to skillet. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer 3 to 5 minutes until vegetables are crisp-tender. Return beef to skillet; remove from heat.
Toss beef mixture with pasta. Garnish with peanuts, if desired.