October 12, 2008

Eating Healthy Can Also Be Yummy

Although this is my favorite season, late September/early October also triggers some sad memories. At age 16, I lost my stepdad, called Poppa by me and my sister, to cancer. A father figure for more than half of my life, he left me with many wonderful memories and skills, including a love of sports and the outdoors.

In October as I see pink items everywhere in the effort to bring awareness to breast cancer, I reflect on how so many of us have either battled some kind of cancer or have a loved one who has. Fortunately, the medical community has made great strides in cancer treatments and many people today are winning the battle.

We now know there are many steps we can take to help reduce our risk of getting cancer, not the least of which are quitting smoking, achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, being physcially active - and making healthy food choices. (A healthy diet involves eating five servings of fruits and vegetables each day, eating whole grains and avoiding processed and red meats.)

My mother was a health teacher and even before Poppa was diagnosed, she encouraged us to eat healthy. Although I grew up knowing how important it is to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, sometimes I get into a rut and need to find new recipes and ways to add more vegetables to our diet and to cut down on fats.

Browsing the American Cancer Society Web site, I found a selection of great recipes from its cookbook "Celebrate! Healthy Entertaining for Any Occasion." These recipes look so scrumptious that I wanted to eat them with my family on any given night, not just when entertaining guests.

For example, I have always enjoyed the classic Reuben sandwich when I go out for lunch, so today I used a new recipe to make a lower-fat version with lean turkey. It was so good that I actually made myself two. Now I'm sure that's not what the American Cancer Society has in mind when urging us to maintain a healthy weight. But since I'm at the end of my third trimester in my third pregnancy, I will use the excuse of "eating for two."Sideline chicken chili

From the American Cancer Society cookbook "Celebrate! Healthy Entertaining for Any Occasion"

Double or triple this recipe - chili freezes well. Serve it straight up or try one of these serving suggestions: fill a tortilla with chili, serve chili over spaghetti noodles or top a baked potato with chili.


3 skinless chicken breast halves, bone intact

6 cups water

1 large onion, sliced lengthwise

2 tablespoons cilantro

2 cups fat-free chicken broth

4 corn tortillas, cut into 1-inch strips

1 41/2-ounce can diced green chiles

1 15-ounce can corn, drained

2 15-ounce cans Great Northern beans (or other white bean)

1 cup green tomatoes or tomatillos, chopped into 1-inch pieces

1 tablespoon fajita seasoning

1/4 teaspoon garlic salt

1 tablespoon lime juice


Bring chicken, water, onion and cilantro to a boil in a large stockpot. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Remove chicken and cool. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring chicken broth to a boil, stir in tortillas and turn off heat. Pull chicken off the bone and cut into bite-sized pieces. Return to stockpot. Add chiles, corn, beans, tomatoes, fajita seasoning and garlic salt. Add tortilla/ broth mixture to stockpot and simmer 15 minutes. Add lime juice to chili and serve.

Makes about 10 cups. Serves 8. Approximate per serving: 330 calories; 5 grams of fat.Turkey Reuben grilled sandwiches

From the American Cancer Society cookbook "Celebrate! Healthy Entertaining for Any Occasion"


4 tablespoons fat-free Thousand Island salad dressing

8 slices dark pumpernickel bread

8 1/2-ounce slices light Swiss cheese

8 ounces turkey breast

3/4 cup sauerkraut

1 teaspoon caraway seeds

Butter-flavored cooking spray


Spread dressing on one side of each slice of bread. Top 4 slices of bread with one slice of cheese each. Top cheese with turkey breast, sauerkraut, caraway seeds and second piece of cheese. Cover with second piece of bread.

Heat a nonstick skillet to medium-high; lightly coat with cooking spray. Place sandwich in pan. Cook 1 minute. Spray top side of sandwich, flip and cook an additional minute until crispy and cheese is melted. Cool slightly and cut in half.

Makes 4 full sandwiches. Serves 8. Approximate per serving: 117 calories; 2 grams of fat.

NOTE: Arthur Reuben is credited with creating the first Reuben sandwich in 1914 for film star Annette Seelos. Omaha grocer Reuben Kay made a version of it for his poker buddies, but the sandwich gained prominence when one of his poker buddies employees submitted the recipe for a sandwich contest in 1955 and won.

"Celebrate! Healthy Entertaining for Any Occasion" is available online or by calling 1-800-ACS-2345.

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