Foods, moods and recipes

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March 03, 2004|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,SUN STAFF

The premise behind The Food & Mood Cookbook (Owl, 2004, $18) is that we are what we eat.

The author, dietitian Elizabeth Somer, explored the impact food has on our emotions in her book Food & Mood, published in 1995. This is the follow-up book, with recipes designed to satisfy food cravings and provide nourishing meals.

The problem for many of us is that we're eating the wrong foods. "Most Americans are eating the nutritional equivalent of sawdust, grabbing highly processed foods, skipping meals and eating way too much fat and sugar," she says. Change the way you eat and "You will be amazed at your energy level, how much quicker you think and how much more you remember, how good you feel, how well you sleep and how little you are controlled by your food cravings and insatiable appetites."

In the Food & Mood Cookbook, Somer teams up with Jeanette Williams, a registered nurse, to provide more than 200 recipes aimed at both the experienced and novice cook. The dishes are labeled "comfort foods," "quick fixes," "adventurous foods" and "special occasions." The recipes rely on low-fat ingredients and aren't above shortcuts, such as the lemon bundt cake with raspberry filling that used a boxed cake mix.

Interspersed among the recipes is nutritional advice on portion sizes, admonishments about the importance of eating breakfast and "mood tips" on the latest nutritional research ("Ounce for ounce, red peppers have four times the vitamin C of oranges, plus a hefty dose of beta carotene to protect your brain against damage from free radicals").

Along with typical cookbook chapter titles, there are not-so-typical subheads that demonstrate the thrust of this book, such as the chapter titled "Vegetables: Antiaging Mind Boosters." One of my favorite dishes, Sunshine Rice With Basil and Parmesan, was included in the chapter "Pasta, Rice and Potato Dishes: Carbs for PMS, SAD and Depression."

Sunshine Rice With Basil and Parmesan

Makes 6 servings

2 quarts water

1 cup arborio rice

1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped

1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons fresh basil

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup low-fat parmesan cheese, grated

fresh basil sprigs or lemon slices

Bring water to boil in medium saucepan. Add rice and onion and continue to boil until rice is tender, approximately 20 minutes. Drain. Mix parsley, butter, basil, lemon juice, lemon peel and salt in a medium bowl. Add rice mixture and stir until thoroughly mixed and butter has melted. Add parmesan and toss. Garnish with basil sprigs or lemon slices.

Per serving: 161 calories; 4 grams protein; 2 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 29 grams carbohydrate; 1 gram fiber; 5 milligrams cholesterol; 473 milligrams sodium

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