Five-step plan helps you eat better in '98 Resolutions: You can decide to improve your nutrition by following a few simple rules. @

January 07, 1998|By ELIZABETH HISER | ELIZABETH HISER,EATING WELL

You say you want a resolution: Here are five, each with its own delicious recipe.

1. Eat a better breakfast

You may think that eating a light breakfast is a great way to start the day. But to prevent midmorning hunger, your wake-up meal should pack enough protein and fat to sustain you throughout the morning. A morning dose of fiber is also a must if you hope to eat the recommended amount by the end of the day. Our smoothie recipe has it all - enough protein, good fat and fiber to satisfy your nutritional needs as well as your appetite. Other good, quick breakfast meals: whole-wheat toast with peanut butter and sliced fresh oranges, or even leftover pizza.

2. Eat healthy snacks

Forget your mother's warning about not having snacks. Research shows that grazers tend to have lower cholesterol levels than people who concentrate all their calories in three meals, suggesting that the body is better at handling a slow, steady stream of nutrients than three floods a day.

What you eat makes a big difference - think whole grains, fruits, nuts and vegetables. Our Applesauce-Date Muffins are low in saturated fat, rich in fiber and tasty.

3. Eat more vegetarian meals.

If the nutrition message of the '90s could be summed up in one sentence, it would be "Eat more plant foods." Plant-based diets fight chronic diseases because they are rich in phytochemicals, fiber and protein, and low in calories and saturated fat.

4. Eat more soy products.

The evidence that eating soy products protects against cancer, heart disease and possibly some of the effects of menopause is just too good to ignore. If you think you'll never like the taste of tofu, try our Strawberry-Almond Smoothie. And remember that tofu is not the only soy product you can incorporate into your recipes; get to know miso - this thick paste made from fermented soybeans boosts the flavor of whatever it is used in.

5. Eat more greens.

The list of nutrients in leafy greens - carotenoids, folate, calcium, essential fatty acids - reads like an index of recent nutrition-news topics. The B vitamin folate, for example, made headlines this year because studies suggest that it lowers high blood levels of the amino acid homocysteine, which is now being considered as a new risk factor for heart disease.

Greens are also rich in carotenoids (plant pigments related to beta carotene), which fight macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in people over 65. Lutein, a carotenoid found in spinach and collard greens, is a powerful anti-oxidant that concentrates in the retina. Braised greens are a perfect partner with everyone's favorite dish: pasta.

Strawberry-Almond Smoothie

Makes about 2 1/4 cups, for 2 servings

10 frozen whole strawberries

1 cup almond milk or 1-percent milk

1/2 cup silken tofu (4 ounces)

2 tablespoons sugar

In a blender, combine strawberries, almond or 1-percent milk, tofu and sugar. Blend until frothy and smooth, about 1 minute. Pour into tall glasses and serve.

Per serving: 185 calories; 5 grams protein, 3 grams fat (0 grams saturated fat), 37 grams carbohydrate; 55 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 3 grams fiber.

Applesauce-Date Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour

2/3 cup bran cereal, such as Bran Buds or All-Bran

1 teaspoon. baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup chopped dates

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 3/4 cups unsweetened applesauce

1/3 cup packed dark-brown sugar

2 tablespoons canola oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Coat 12 muffin cups with nonstick spray. Spread walnuts in a shallow pan and bake for 3 to 5 minutes, or until fragrant. Let cool.

In a large bowl, whisk flour, bran cereal, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Stir in dates and walnuts. In a bowl, whisk egg, applesauce, brown sugar and oil until smooth. Make a well in the dry ingredients and mix in wet ingredients until just combined. (Do not overmix.)

Divide batter among the prepared muffin cups. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until tops spring back when touched lightly. Loosen edges and turn muffins out onto a wire rack to cool.

Per muffin: 160 calories; 4 grams protein, 5 grams fat (0.5 gram saturated fat), 29 grams carbohydrate; 217 mg sodium; 18 mg cholesterol; 5 grams fiber.

Braised Bulgur and Cabbage

Makes about 5 cups, for 4 servings

2 teaspoons olive oil

3/4 cup bulgur

1 large onion, chopped

2 cups chopped green cabbage

2 cups sliced carrots

1 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth, defatted

1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce or tamari, plus more to taste

1/2 cup chopped peanuts

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

In a Dutch oven or large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add bulgur, onion, cabbage and carrots; cook, stirring, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 1 minute.

Add broth and soy sauce (or tamari); bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until bulgur is tender and broth is absorbed, 10 to 15 minutes. Adjust seasoning with soy sauce. Transfer mixture to a serving bowl. Top with peanuts and sprinkle with parsley.

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