Cooking Up A Delicious and Healthy New Year
By Janet Tharpe

Cooking Up A Delicious and Healthy New Year
Chicken Sandwiches w/ Cilantro Lime Mayo

I recently read an editorial piece written by a gentleman who was adamant that moderation is the key to happiness. While at first it seemed like a whopper of a contradiction, I thought about it some more and really like the notion. In this new year, why cut things out? Why deprive ourselves? Why not instead balance ourselves by evening out what we do... and what we eat? There are too many wonderful foods on this planet to eat just a few of 'em. I've been carrying the idea close to my heart and there are a TON of terrific cooks in this Club who are offering up delicious recipes perfectly suited to a balanced diet. (Starvation diets, be gone!)

Ms. Angie Webb is a perfect example of a cook who is balancing tradition and healthfulness in her cooking. Her Mamma Ang's Cavatini has earned this Centennial, CO gal a soft spot in the collective heart of the Kitchen Crew. "My mother used to make Cavatini for me on special occasions," explains Angie. "Unfortunately, I never got her recipe. So, I came up with the closest I could find and added some lower fat options since I try to make healthy food for my family." By substituting whole wheat pastas, lower-fat cheeses and turkey in place of more traditional (and fatty) ingredients, Angie is helping her family stay healthy while at the same time making them happy. "My kids LOVE it," she says. "[They] had seconds AND thirds!" All I can say is thank goodness this recipe makes enough for a crowd... because we just can't get enough.

A great pairing with Ang's Cavatini is the Grilled Vegetables with Goat Cheese and Balsamic Glaze recipe from Denise Lepard. This delightful, nutritious dish also spans the generations. "My mom and grandmother would make this when they had leftover veggies," says Diane. "I've seen this done on so many cooking shows and have made it so often. It never really makes it to the dinner table!" The key to this scrummy recipe is the slow-roasting (or grilling) of the veggies coupled with the syrupy tang of the balsamic vinegar. Beyond that, feel free to mix up the ingredients to suit what you have on hand. "You can swap out the goat cheese for any cheese you prefer, and use any vegetables you like," says Diane, who also suggests serving the veggies with crunchy Italian bread or pita chips. The versatility of this recipe is just as divine as its flavor.

Soups are another great way to lighten the load while still keeping a happy tummy. And by making recipes like soup from scratch, you can more easily moderate the amount of salt and such that you're eating.

Diane Eldridge of Chattanooga, TN knocked our socks off with her recipe for Homemade Cream of Tomato Soup. While we love the canned stuff too, it was a fun change of pace to whip up our very own tomato soup from start to finish. Diane came up with this warm hug of a recipe while looking for a way to heat things up on a cold day. What makes it so good? Well, in part it's its simplicity. By combining chopped tomatoes and 1% milk with aromatic herbs, Diane has captured the soulfulness of classic tomato soup while moderating all the guilt-inducing ingredients. Love!

The only way to make Diane's magnificent moderation even more tasty is by pairing her soup with a savory Grilled Chicken Sandwich from Portland's Lauren Mitchell! Lauren keeps things light by using boneless, skinless chicken breasts sprinkled with taco seasoning. Grill them to perfection, then top with her ought-to-be-world-famous Cilantro Lime Mayo. "This was a spur of the moment idea that turned out great, super fast and healthy," says Lauren, who makes sure to use light mayo when whipping up her sandwiches. Add avocado, tomato and red onion for a delicious and nutritious lunch.

Who knew that balanced eating could be so delicious? That article I read was right: balancing the stress in our lives and what we give our bodies is truly key. And while it may take some time to get there, each baby step can make a heck of a difference. I'm starting small and working my way up... without sacrificing the richness of occasional indulgences as I go. In fact, I can't wait for the moment when the only thing I have to worry about balancing in life is the plate of cookies on my lap.

  • Comments

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    Kristi Luce thisgrandmascookin - Jan 3, 2012
    Your article could not be more right on Janet. People are so quick to cut the pleasures, they forget it is how much you are eating more as well as what you are eating. Other than for medical reasons, you actually hurt your chances for long term results when you restrict yourself too much. I am also of the opinion that if people would eat rounded diets there would be no need for multi vitamins. Tho ones that are most compatable to our bodies are in our food.
  • user
    Catherine Zaring Cookiez54 - Jan 3, 2012
    I learned this lesson over 2 years ago when I was diagnosed as a Type 2 diabetic. Looked at the boring meals that the dietitian gave me, did some research and decided that I could still enjoy food as long as I balanced my foods properly and used portion control, i.e. divided plate method. It has worked for me...I have lost over 30 pounds and am now considered "pre-diabetic". If this carb queen can do it anyone can! :)
  • user
    Carol Harpel Kitzer - Jan 3, 2012
    Catherine - Congratulations!! I'm glad your brain took over!!
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    anne muzzy muzzy460 - Jan 4, 2012
    Can't wait to try the tomato soup. I've been having problems with my blood pressure so will have to use mrs. dash instead of the season salt but I think it will work. I also agree that moderation is key!!
  • user
    Colleen Sowa colleenlucky7 - Jan 4, 2012
    Congratulations everyone!!! Diane... I especially congratulate you my friend! xo