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Take two veggies and call me in the morning

» Zucchini lasagna

» Carrot-raisin bread

More to the table

  • Substitute some of the meat on your sandwich with tomatoes, sprouts, arugula or watercress.
  • Skip the greasy sausage on pizza night and opt instead for broccoli or mushrooms.
  • Mix some veggies into your breakfast routine. Try an omelet made with peppers and onion.

Don’t be surprised if your doctor “prescribes” a variety of vegetables and fruits to help reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and certain types of cancer. But to benefit you need to eat at least five to nine servings of fresh fruit and vegetables a day, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Guide Pyramid.

If you’re like most Americans, you don’t come close to meeting that goal. In fact, a recent government report shows less than 30 percent of American adults eat vegetables three or more times a day. So how do you beef up your intake? If a heaping pile of peas on your plate is off-putting, a little creative cooking might be in order. Besides, who says vegetables and fruits need to just be served on the side? Try these recipes to discreetly give your meals and desserts a nutritional boost:

Zucchini lasagna

  ½ pound lasagna noodles, cooked in unsalted water
  ¾ cup part-skim mozzarella cheese, grated
  1½ cups fat-free cottage cheese*
  ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  1½ cups raw zucchini, sliced
  2½ cups no-salt-added tomato sauce
  2 teaspoons dried basil
  2 teaspoons dried oregano
  ¼ cup onion, chopped
  1 garlic clove
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

  • Preheat the oven to 350° F. Lightly spray a 9- by 13-inch baking dish with vegetable oil spray. In a small bowl, combine 1/8 cup of mozzarella and 1 tablespoon of Parmesan cheese. Set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese with all of the cottage cheese. Mix well and set aside. Combine tomato sauce with remaining ingredients except zucchini. Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce in the bottom of the baking dish. Add a third of the noodles in a single layer. Spread half of the cottage cheese mixture on top. Add a layer of zucchini. Repeat layering. Add a thin coating of sauce. Top with noodles, sauce and the reserved cheese mixture. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 30-40 minutes. Cool for 10-15 minutes. Cut into six portions. Makes six servings.

Per serving: 276 calories, 5 g fat (2 g saturated), 11 mg cholesterol, 380 mg sodium*, 41 g carbohydrates, 5 g fiber, 19 g protein

*Use unsalted cottage cheese to reduce the sodium content to 196 mg per serving.

Carrot-raisin bread

  1½ cups all-purpose flour
  ½ cup sugar
  1 teaspoon baking powder
  ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  ½ teaspoon salt
  1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  1 egg, beaten
  ½ cup water
  2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  ½ teaspoon vanilla
  1½ cups carrots, finely shredded
  ¼ cup pecans, chopped
  ¼ cup golden raisins

  • Preheat the oven to 350° F. Lightly oil two 9- by 5-inch loaf pans. Stir together dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center of the dry mixture. In a separate bowl, mix together remaining ingredients. Add mixture all at once to dry ingredients. Stir just enough to moisten and evenly distribute carrots. Turn into the prepared pan. Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for five minutes in the pans. Remove from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack before slicing. Makes two loaves.

Per ½-inch slice: 99 calories, 3 g fat (less than 1 g saturated), 12 mg cholesterol, 97 mg sodium, 17 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 2 g protein

Recipes reprinted from Keep the Beat: Heart Healthy Recipes from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. July 2003. Available for free download at www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/other/ktb_recipebk/index.htm, or in print by sending $4, plus $3.10 for shipping, to NHLBI Information Center at P.O. Box 30105, Bethesda, MD 20824-0105; or by calling 301-592-8573.


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