With the New Year we look to improving our health by getting more exercise, perhaps getting more sleep and especially making improvements in the way we eat.

The relationship between diet and health is well published, but even though we may have good intentions to follow the nutrition guidelines, we may fail do to so. By eating more whole grains, more fruits and vegetables, more fat-free dairy products, less sodium, less saturated fat and more fat coming from healthy sources (such as nuts, fish and vegetable oils) we can come closer to our goal of healthier eating.

If the foods we prepare are healthy but not delicious and satisfying, they won’t be eaten. The following recipes are not only nutritious and lower in calories, but also have wonderful flavor.

Smoked navy bean and corn chowder

Makes eight (1-cup) servings

Beans are a healthy and important source of fiber and protein. They also have great taste and versatility. In this chowder, part of the beans are pureed to thicken the soup. The tender biscuits have pureed black beans giving the biscuits flavor and tenderness. The chowder and biscuit recipes were winners in the “Bean Appetit” recipe contest sponsored by the Northarvest Bean Growers Association and are published in their brochure “bean appetit!”

Ingredients:

2/3 cup finely chopped onion

2/3 cup finely chopped red bell pepper

1 tablespoon butter

2 cans (15-ounce each) Navy beans, rinsed, drained

5 cups chicken broth

3 cups fresh or frozen whole kernel corn

2/3 cup whipping cream or half-and-half

2 teaspoons fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

Liquid smoke to taste (optional)

Salt and cayenne pepper, to taste

Black bean biscuits (see recipe below)

Directions:

Sauté onion and bell pepper in butter in large saucepan until tender, about 3 to 4 minutes. Process half the beans with enough chicken broth in food processor to make smooth puree. Add puree, remaining beans and broth, and corn to saucepan; heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes. Stir in cream and thyme; simmer 5 minutes longer. Season to taste with liquid smoke, salt and cayenne pepper. Serve with black bean biscuits.

*If desired, use Greek yogurt in place of whipping cream.

Black bean biscuits

Makes 2 dozen mini-biscuits

Ingredients: 

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup vegetable shortening

1/2 can (15-ounce size) black beans, rinsed, drained

3 tablespoons milk

Directions:

Combine flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in mixing bowl; cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Process beans and milk in food processor until almost smooth; add to flour mixture and mix just until dough comes together. Pat dough on floured surface to 3/4-inch thickness; cut into biscuits with 1-inch cutter. Bake on ungreased baking sheet until light brown, 12 to 14 minutes. Serve warm. (If desired, cut biscuits with a larger cutter.)

Healthy makeover meatloaf

Makes 8 main dish servings

Meatloaf comes in at the top when you are thinking about comfort food. However, it usually has a higher fat content. To get the comfort without the calories, try this version. The fat is cut in half by using 93 percent lean ground turkey instead of ground beef chuck and opting for fat-free milk, which still keeps the loaf plenty tender. Whole-wheat bread crumbs complete the healthy make-over.

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 medium stalks celery, finely chopped

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed with garlic press

2 pounds lean ground turkey

3/4 cup fresh whole-wheat bread crumbs (from 1 1/2 slices bread)

1/3 cup skim milk

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 large egg whites

1/2 cup ketchup

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a 12-inch non-stick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add celery and onion and cook until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Transfer vegetables to large bowl, cool slightly. Add turkey, bread crumbs, milk, Worcestershire, egg whites, 1/4 cup ketchup, salt and pepper to bowl with vegetables; mix with hands until well combined but not overmixed. In cup, mix Dijon and remaining 1/4 cup ketchup. In 13-by-9-inch metal baking pan, shape mixture into 9-by-5-inch loaf. Spread ketchup mixture over top of loaf. Bake meatloaf until an instant-read thermometer inserted in center reaches 160 degrees, 55 to 60 minutes. (Temperature will rise to 165 degrees while standing.) Let meatloaf stand 10 minutes before removing from pan to set juices for easier slicing. Transfer meatloaf to platter and cut into slices to serve.

*For faster cooking you can make smaller loaves. Shape the meat mixture into two loaves and you shave about 20 minutes off your cooking time; make six to eight individual loaves and cut the time in half. (Place the loaves in a 9-by-13-inch pan or a jelly roll pan.)

Source: Good Housekeeping “400 Healthy Recipes, Easy, Delicious, Low-Calorie.”

Beef and wheat berry chili

Makes 8 main-dish servings

This hearty chili recipe, which contains beef and whole wheat, checks in at 360 calories a serving. It also can be a great choice for a Super Bowl event. Ancho chili powder has a sweet, milder flavor than other chili powder.

Ingredients:

4 teaspoons vegetable oil

2 pounds boneless beef bottom round, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 medium onions, chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

3 tablespoons ground ancho chili pepper (or regular chili pepper)

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon salt

1 can (14.5-ounce) diced tomatoes with chilies

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

1 cup wheat berries (whole wheat kernels)

1 bottle dark beer

2 slices bacon

1 bay leaf

Sour cream and sliced green onions (optional)

Directions:

In non-stick 5-to 6-quart Dutch oven, heat 1 teaspoon oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add half of beef and cook until browned on all sides, 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. With slotted spoon transfer beef to large bowl. Repeat with another teaspoon oil and remaining beef. In same Dutch oven heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil over medium heat until hot. Add onions and cook until golden, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in garlic and cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Stir in ground ancho chili, cumin and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook 1 minute. Return beef to Dutch oven; add tomatoes and broth. Heat to boiling over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 1 1/2 hours. Meanwhile in 3-quart saucepan, combine 2 1/2 cups water, wheat berries, beer, bacon, bay leaf, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt; cover and heat to boiling over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, 1 1/2 hours. Drain wheat berries, reserving 1 cup cooking water. Discard bacon and bay leaf. Stir wheat berries and reserved cooking water into Dutch oven with beef mixture. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until beef and wheat berries are tender, about 15 minutes. Serve chili with sour cream and green onions, if desired.

Source: Good Housekeeping “400 Healthy Recipes, Easy, Delicious, Low-Calorie."

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