A recent press release from Cooking Light magazine presents a list of "in" foods for 1991.
The magazine predicts that busy Americans will eat more casual, healthful fare . . . simple foods whose unusual color, texture or flavor need little embellishment.
"In" for 1991:
*Cold water fish (salmon, trout, swordfish)
*Soups and stews
*Slaws, oatmeal, pizza, dried fruit
*Chutneys and relishes
*Rice (puffed, bran, crisped)
*Peppers (red, yellow, orange)
If you've been reading this column for the past three years, the list probably doesn't surprise. The items underscore the recommended shift from fat and meat and toward more fruits, vegetables and grains.
The predictions are reinforced by one of my favorite Christmas gifts: a new cookbook called "Soups, Stews and Casseroles," published to benefit MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving). While the recipes haven't all been defatted, they do present lots of ideas for new or forgotten combinations.
These mixed dishes are the perfect place to gradually decrease meat portions and increase the proportions of vegetables, potatoes, rice and noodles without causing a riot around the table. While a 4-ounce serving of sausage might be considered a normal small portion for one person, it is enough to season an entire casserole for eight, as long as there are plenty of vegetables or beans.
And I think we'll be seeing more beans in the coming year. I'm already noticing more "make your own" soup packages of mixed dried beans with optional seasoning packets. Just toss everything in a pot with an onion and cook for a while. Serve with whole grain bread, and fresh fruit and yogurt for dessert, and voila! What could be easier?
(If your digestive system is having a tough time adjusting to beans, cabbage or other gas-producing foods, call the Beano Hotline at (800) 257-8650 to get information on this new product you add to food to prevent gas formation.)
"One pot" meals create a simple, hearty and heart-healthy focal point for winter entertaining, Super Bowl parties or weekend meals.
If you're not having a gang over, one night of cooking provides enough "planned overs" for Tupperware lunches and freeze-for-later dinners.
I think you'll be seeing more barley, too. This high-fiber grain is a great natural thickener for soups and casseroles. Its calories come from complex carbohydrates and a little protein, but without fat.
Colleen Pierre, a registered dietitian, is the nutrition consultant to the Union Memorial Sports Medicine Center in Baltimore and national spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.