Cancer institute's American plate has flavor


April 27, 2005|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,SUN STAFF

The American Institute for Cancer Research has been trying for years to get Americans to change their eating habits.

Now, with its new cookbook, the institute proves that one doesn't have to sacrifice flavor to eat healthfully.

The chefs, scientists and nutrition experts who developed the New American Plate Cookbook (University of California Press, 2005, $24.95) dismiss recent fad diets and focus on changing the typical American's approach to eating. Instead of planning meals around a substantial serving of meat, the authors create an American plate that is two-thirds vegetables, fruit and whole grains.

The simple concept appears to be catching on. The book's first printing sold out in one month and a second printing has been issued.

New American Plate Cookbook contains 200 recipes, ranging from appetizers to entrees, side dishes and desserts, and 74 color photographs. There are also tips on planning meals and suggestions for combining dishes to make a meal. The authors also explain the science behind their shift away from a meat-centered meal, citing evidence that plant foods can help lower the risk of cancer, heart disease and obesity.

The book's organization is a bit difficult to follow, however. You will find rice dishes in both chapters on grains and pilafs, for instance. And while the authors do not necessarily endorse vegetarianism, as would be expected, there are many more recipes for vegetables and grains than there are for meat dishes and desserts.

Many of the recipes, such as the cranberry-pumpkin bread and date-walnut bars, have an autumnal feel, despite the spring publication date.

All of the recipes I tried were easy to follow and turned out well. Lime and ginger marinade lent flavor to a boneless pork loin and dried fruit and orange rind sweetened brown rice for a tasty pilaf.

The shrimp curry, with asparagus and snap peas, makes a quick and easy dinner that captures the flavors of spring and illustrates the point of packing lots of vegetables on the plate.

All royalties from the sale of the cookbook go to AICR to help support cancer research.

Shrimp Curry With Asparagus and Snap Peas

Serves 4

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 teaspoons curry powder

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce

3/4 cup fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth

3 teaspoons canola or peanut oil (divided use)

8 asparagus stalks, tough ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

1/4 pound sugar snap peas, strings on both edges removed

2 teaspoons grated or minced, peeled fresh ginger

1 large garlic clove, minced

3/4 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch, curry powder and sugar. Mix in soy sauce and then the chicken broth. Set the mixture aside.

In a heavy skillet or wok, heat 1 teaspoon of the oil over high heat. Add the asparagus, red pepper, peas, ginger and garlic. Stir-fry until the vegetables are bright in color, about 1 minute. Transfer them to a plate with a slotted spoon.

Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil. Add the shrimp and stir-fry until they turn pink, about 1 minute. Return the vegetables to the skillet. Stir the sauce and then pour into the skillet.

Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer gently until the shrimp are white in the center, about 2 to 3 minutes. Serve immediately.

Per serving: 167 calories; 5 grams fat; less than 1 gram saturated fat; 10 grams carbohydrate; 20 grams protein; 2 grams fiber, 277 milligrams sodium

- Analysis courtesy of the "New American Plate Cookbook"

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