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Weekly Diet News Digest

by John McGran, Columnist

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Talk about great timing. The queen of cookbooks, Nancy S. Hughes, has rolled out her latest effort, The 1,500 Calorie-a-Day Cookbook (McGraw-Hill), at a time when top nutrition experts are telling us that calories count more than any food-specific diet when it come to losing weight.

OK, so calories may be the key, but it's taste that keeps a man like me on a diet. As you'll find out from the four recipes I'm reprinting below, Nancy has what it takes to feed you and me great while we lose weight.

Thanks to her 350-calorie meals, 150-calorie snacks, and 150-calorie desserts, there's no more counting points or carbs. You simply enjoy a daily menu of three meals, two snacks and ones dessert and you get a healthy 1,500 calories without needing a calculator!

I had the great pleasure of sitting down for a fun 50-minute chat with Nancy, who in addition to writing a dozen cookbooks for herself has also developed more than 4,000 recipes for heavy hitters like Weight Watchers, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, Better Homes & Gardens, and Betty Crocker.

While most low-calorie meal plans leave you hungry for more, this cookbook serves up a satisfying selection of energy-boosting breakfasts, fast-fix lunches, and delectable dinners -- plus two healthy snacks and one guilt-free dessert -- every single day!

"My philosophy about food is to keep it simple," Nancy tells Diet.com. "If it's simple and quick to prepare with few ingredients you'll do it again and again.

"I use ingredients that are not only healthy but also multi-taskers -- they can be used in multiple dishes in my cookbook."

Nancy keeps an eye on food trends when whipping up her cookbooks. She opted for 1,500 calories a day because her 1994 1,200 Calorie-a-Day Cookbook continues to sell well but she wanted to be more realistic.

"By allowing for two snacks and a dessert you eat throughout the day," she says. "This plan keeps you refueled. It keeps you going but doesn't slow you down.

Nancy has been creating great recipes for the past 25 years. The secret to her success: being in tune with what the consumer is asking for.

Her latest is not a diet cookbook. It's more a healthy way of living.

"It lets you go through the day loaded up with all the good stuff -- like the fiber and the nutrient-rich colorful vegetables," she notes.

"The book has a quick tutorial that discusses the important nutrients. Each recipe lists how much fiber and other important nutrients it contains."

From her home kitchen in Daphne, Alabama, here are four recipes hand-picked by the author.

Country Herbed-Cheese Crostini
with Grapefruit Sections and Baby Carrots

Calories 350; total fat 7g (saturated fat 3.5g); protein 15g; carbohydrates 59g; fiber 6g; cholesterol 35mg; sodium 920mg; vitamin A 360%; vitamin C 130%; calcium 20%; iron 20%

8 ounces French country bread or sourdough bread, cut in
4 slices
1/2 cup (4 ounces) light garlic and herb cream cheese spread,
such as Alouette
16 small fresh basil leaves
1 medium tomato, sliced thin (1 cup)
2 cups (4 ounces) packed spring greens
1/4 pound oven-roasted deli turkey, sliced thin

Place the bread slices on a baking sheet and place in a cold oven. Set the oven for 350˚F. Turn the bread after 4 minutes. When the oven reaches 350˚F (about 8 minutes total), turn it
off, remove the bread, and cool completely.

Top each slice with equal amounts of (in order) the cheese
spread, basil, tomato slices, greens, and turkey. Serve open
face; cut in half, if desired.

TIME-SHAVER TIP: Placing the bread in the oven while it is heating allows the bread to “slow toast,” making it crispy without overbrowning or having to wait the extra minutes for the oven to heat up.

Excellent source of fiber, vitamins A and C, calcium, and iron

Sirloin Steak and Sweet Bourbon Reduction
with Quick-Baked Sweet Potatoes and Green Pepperâ€"Yellow Squash SautĂ©

Calories 340; total fat 5g (saturated fat 2g); protein 28g; carbohydrates 36g; fiber 5g; cholesterol 50mg; sodium 510mg; vitamin A 330%; vitamin C 50%; calcium 8%; iron 15%

2 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 pound boneless sirloin steak (about 3/4 inch thick),
trimmed of fat
1/4 cup bourbon

Combine the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, coffee granules, salt, and pepper in a 13"x9" baking pan. Add the sirloin, turning several times to coat. Let stand 15 minutes, turning occasionally. Meanwhile, preheat the broiler.

Coat a broiler rack and pan with cooking spray, place the beef
(reserving marinade) on the rack, and broil 5 minutes on each
side or to desired doneness. Place on a cutting board and let
stand 3 minutes before slicing thin.

Pour the reserved marinade and the bourbon into a small
saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil 1 to 1 1/2
minutes or until reduced to 1/4 cup. Spoon over the steak before

COOK’S NOTE: Be sure to watch the boiling marinade closely; it reduces very quickly.

Excellent source of fiber and vitamins A and C; good source of iron

Chicken-Almond Hoisin Wraps
with Scallioned Soup, Sesame Seed Rice Crackers, and Dried Apricots

Calories 350; total fat 12g (saturated fat 1g); protein 19g; carbohydrates 42g; fiber 6g; cholesterol 30mg; sodium 900mg; vitamin A 70%; vitamin C 150%; calcium 10%; iron 15%

3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind
1/3 cup orange juice
1/8 teaspoon dried pepper flakes
3 cups shredded coleslaw with carrots
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped (1 cup)
1 cup (5 ounces) cooked diced chicken breast
3/4 cup (3 ounces) slivered almonds, toasted
12 Boston or Bibb or green-leaf lettuce leaves

Stir together the hoisin sauce, orange rind, juice, and pepper
flakes in a small bowl and set aside.

Combine the coleslaw, bell pepper, chicken, and almonds in
a medium bowl and toss to blend. Drizzle filling with hoisin
mixture. Spoon equal amounts into each of the 12 lettuce
leaves and wrap.

COOK’S NOTE: Be sure to use slivered almonds, not the sliced variety, in this recipe for a definitely crunchy texture.

TIME-SHAVER TIP: This is fun to serve when entertaining. Fill the wraps, but place them open on a large serving platter so everyone can wrap up their own.

Excellent source of fiber and vitamins A and C; good source of calcium and iron

Makes 12 wraps total
Serves 4 (3 wraps, about 3/4 cup soup, 6 crackers, and 6 apricot halves per serving)

Hot Butterscotch Apples and Ice Cream

Calories 150; total fat 0g (saturated fat 0g); protein 3g; carbohydrates 37g; fiber 3g; cholesterol 0mg; sodium 85mg; vitamin A 6%; vitamin C 6%; calcium 8%; iron 2%

3 medium tart apples, such as Granny Smith, sliced (3 cups)
2 tablespoons raisins
2 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon ...    Continue

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