Healthy cooking seems to be on everyone’s minds.
Yes, we’re just as likely to indulge in bacon-wrapped cheeseburgers as a grilled chicken salad with a tiny cup of dressing on the side (been there), but it seems like many Americans have a general idea that they need to eat healthfully.
But do they have the know-how to do it? The editors of Better Homes and Gardens have put out a book, “Skinny Dinners: 200 Calorie-Smart Recipes that Your Family Will Love” (Better Homes and Gardens, $19.99), to help guide you through the process of cooking lighter fare.
We do our best to print health-conscious recipes even more often than the ones that throw calorie caution to the wind, but in the past week, I’ve received a few questions about why we don’t publish nutritional information with recipes.
Some recipes, such as this Swiss chard with polenta from the new book, come to us with the nutritional content included — 247 calories, 6 grams fat, 786 mg sodium, if you were curious — but not all of them do.
Nutrition analysis used to be much more expensive than it is now. Today, there are websites that you can plug recipes into and get a general analysis, but the results can be thrown off depending on the size of the produce, fat content of milk, meat or cheese, if you’re using kosher or table salt and especially the portion size that you dish out on a plate.
Because of those variables, we’ve decided to stick by our decision not to run nutritional information in recipes and instead take a broader approach to helping readers cook healthier without feeling the need to pull out a calculator.
If you’re concerned about your calorie or fat intake, for instance, use less of the oil (or cheese or meat) called for when cooking a recipe like this, and stay away from the ones whose primary ingredients are the ones you’ve been told to slow down on. The biggest culprit for consuming too many calories, in my opinion, is oversized servings, so use restraint when portioning food.
Swiss Chard and Turkey Sausage over Polenta
4 oz. smoked turkey sausage, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. olive oil
1 1/2 lb. Swiss chard, rinsed, trimmed and sliced
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp. salt, divided
1 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup fat-free milk
1 oz. Parmesan cheese, shaved
In a very large skillet, cook sausage, onion and garlic in hot oil for 2 to 3 minutes or just until sausage is browned and onion is softened. Stir in half of the Swiss chard, the crushed red pepper and 1/8 tsp. of salt. Cook, covered, for 2 minutes. Stir in the remaining Swiss chard. Cook, covered, for 5 minutes more, stirring often.
Meanwhile, for polenta, in a large saucepan bring 3 cups water to boiling. In a medium bowl combine cornmeal and the remaining 1/8 tsp. salt; stir in 1 cup cold water. Slowly add cornmeal mixture to boiling water in saucepan, stirring constantly. Cook and stir until mixture returns to boiling. Cook, uncovered, over low heat about 5 minutes or until thick, stirring occasionally. Stir in milk.
Serve Swiss chard mixture over polenta with Parmesan cheese. Serves 4.
— From “Skinny Dinners: 200 Calorie-Smart Recipes that Your Family Will Love” (Better Homes and Gardens, $19.99)