Nutritious dinner offers less meat

March 14, 2007|By Jill Wendholt Silva | Jill Wendholt Silva,McClatchy-Tribune

The average American dinner is getting a makeover.

Before: Relying on a hunk of meat as the star of the meal leads to portion distortion, an inability to accurately measure a serving.

After: With the New American Plate, the American Institute of Cancer Research suggests shifting the emphasis from meat to vegetables, fruits and grains - each a bountiful source of phytochemicals, health-promoting nutrients that can protect against cancer.

The plan: Simply fill two-thirds of your plate with vegetables and one-third with meat, poultry or fish.

"People trying to change their diet often get so overwhelmed with counting things," says Karen Collins, registered dietitian and nutrition adviser for the AICR. "The neat thing about the New American Plate is that it does provide structure, but there's not really any counting."

One way to subtly alter lopsided proportions is to serve more stews, casseroles, stir-fries, grain-based salads and other one-pot meals. This Beef-and-Mushroom Stew is a tasty way to create a quick, convenient and nutritious meal.

Celery, leeks, carrots, mushrooms and peas offer vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals; the small amount of red meat used is lean; and the broth is a low-sodium variety. Serve the meal with cooked brown rice and you've added a healthful whole grain to round out the meal.

Preparation tip: To remove all the grit that can hide in the layers of a leek, slice or chop first, then put in a bowl of water to clean. Swish the pieces with fingers and the dirt will fall to the bottom; lift pieces of leek out with hands. Avoid draining leeks in a colander, which can trap the dirt with the leeks.

Pump it up: For a free brochure, "The New American One-Pot Meals," go to or call 800-843-8114.

Beef-and-Mushroom Stew

Makes 6 servings

1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil (divided use)

1 pound beef top round, trimmed of all fat and cut into 3/4 -inch cubes

1 onion, chopped

1 leek, chopped (white part only)

1 clove garlic, minced

12 ounces mushrooms, sliced (button, small portobello, shiitake or a combination)

2 stalks celery, chopped

3 carrots, halved and sliced

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 bay leaf

1 (14.5-ounce) can sodium-reduced beef broth

1/2 cup red wine

1/2 cup frozen peas

1 tablespoon cornstarch

3/4 cup hot, cooked brown rice

green onions, chopped

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add beef cubes and cook, stirring frequently, until browned. Drain and set beef aside.

Add remaining oil to Dutch oven. Add onion, leek and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is tender. Add mushrooms and saute, stirring frequently, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in celery, carrots, seasonings, broth, wine and browned beef.

Heat to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer 1 hour or until beef is tender. Stir in peas. Increase heat to medium. Dissolve cornstarch in 1 tablespoon cold water; blend cornstarch mixture into stew and cook, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes or until slightly thickened and bubbly.

To serve, remove bay leaf and ladle stew into individual serving bowls. Top each serving with 2 tablespoons hot, cooked brown rice then garnish with chopped green onions.

Per serving: 259 calories, 9 grams fat, 3 grams saturated fat, 36 milligrams cholesterol, 21 grams carbohydrate, 22 grams protein, 194 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber

Recipe analysis provided by The Kansas City Star.

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