A graduate course in good nutrition and a little help from a friend


October 18, 1994|By Colleen Pierre | Colleen Pierre,Special to The Sun

My daughter Cathy and I are now both in graduate school, together in spirit, but physically apart. But thanks to Ma Bell, we can still trade time-management and good-nutrition strategies. Tips on cost control are high priority, too.

Cathy's housemate helps her maintain healthy eating habits. By good fortune, Cathy and Allison met by mail, and have found a high level of kitchen compatibility. Allison is a vegetarian, which is OK with Cathy, best described as an omnivore leaning toward more vegetarian food all the time. (That apple did not fall far from the tree!) Lunch continues as a meat meal for the omnivore, who feels happy and satisfied with packing a sandwich of whole grain bread, lowfat cheese and a couple of ounces of "light" luncheon meat. An apple and a carrot make that a high-nutrition meal.

It's interesting to note that she is eating raw carrots again after burning out on them in grade school. I packed so many in her lunches she declared she'd never eat another. But time heals all wounds and the economical facts of life have proven them a solid staple. They hold up well in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks, they're cheap, and each medium-sized carrot provides two and a half days worth of beta carotene along with a little fiber.

Frozen mixed vegetables are a dinnertime standard because they're so reliable. Fresh vegetables seem to be the bane of most single people's existence. Folks complain constantly that they buy fresh vegetables to "get healthy," then watch them spoil because they're just too tired at the end of the day to peel and chop. Frozen veggies are ever-ready, no matter how frantic the lifestyle, so they're perfect for busy students. Cathy can just pop a handful into a bowl, cover, microwave, then eat from the cooking dish. Nothing could be simpler.

Cathy also has a particular fondness for frozen spinach. And what a great value. It never spoils, and just one-half cup provides a day's worth of beta carotene, one-fourth of her folic acid, many B vitamins, and 2 grams of fiber for only 27 calories.

For quick carbos, Cathy and Allison rely on lowfat Oodles of Noodles, as well as brown rice, which they cook in a big batch once a week, and reheat in a couple of minutes or use in recipes like this one:

Peppers, peas and rice

Makes two servings.

Cut up a large green pepper (about 1 1/2 cups) and saute over medium heat in 1 tablespoon olive oil until the pepper begins to soften. Stir in 3 tablespoons soy sauce, 3 tablespoons water, and 2 tablespoons brown sugar. Stir until sugar melts and sauce is well blended. Add a 10-ounce package of frozen peas and 1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice. Stir and simmer until all ingredients are hot. Nutrition information per serving: Calories, 408; Protein, 13 grams; Carbohydrate, 72 grams; Fat, 8.5 grams; Saturated Fat, 1 gram; Fiber, 9 grams; Sodium, 1677 mg.

The girls have started clipping coupons, too, suddenly discovering that "cents off" this and that makes a big difference.

I did caution that coupons save money only if you are going to buy the product anyway, or if the discount makes the product cheaper than your usual brand.

I also reminded them that peanut butter is really inexpensive. Of course it's a high-fat item not to be eaten by heaping spoonfuls directly from the jar.

But 2 tablespoons, enough for a sandwich, combines nicely with two slices of whole grain bread, a glass of skim milk, some raw vegetables and a piece of fruit (all fat free) to make a meal that falls within healthy guidelines.

Colleen Pierre, a registered dietitian, is the nutrition consultant the the Union Memorial Sports Medicine Center and Vanderhorst & Associates in Baltimore.

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