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By Keith | May 14, 2010

Spinach and Corn Quesadilla

A little bit of cheese can go a long way when combined with delicious, filling vegetables. Lightly sautéed spinach, fresh corn kernels and grilled onion are neatly sandwiched between two tortillas makes for a simple quesadilla with a satisfying crunch. Spinach is a great food for promoting optimal health. A good source of Vitamin A, C and iron, spinach also contains an abundance of phytochemicals like flavonoids and lutein, which may protect against some cancers. Cut quesadilla into 8 wedges for a great hors d’oeuvre or pair a few wedges with a simple soup or salad for a light lunch.
(Adapted from the 12 Best Foods Cookbook)

2 tsp. canola oil
1/4 cup thinly sliced onion
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and cut in thin rounds
1 bunch spinach, stemmed, with leaves cut in 1” ribbons, or one package (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
1/2 cup white corn kernels, fresh or frozen
Two 10” whole-wheat tortillas
Cooking spray (or 1/2 tsp. canola or light olive oil)
1 cup (3 oz.) shredded Jack cheese, divided

1. In large, non-stick skillet, heat oil on medium-high heat. Add onion and jalapeño and sauté until onion is translucent. Add spinach, stirring until it wilts. Add corn and cook, stirring, until corn is warmed through, about 3 minutes. Transfer mixture to bowl. Wipe out pan.

2. Coat one tortilla with cooking spray. Place it, sprayed/brushed side down, on plate. Sprinkle half the cheese over tortilla. Spread spinach mixture over cheese, leaving a half-inch border around edge. Sprinkle on onion. Top with remaining cheese. Spray second tortilla and place it, coated side up, to cover filling.

3. Return skillet to heat. When hot, slide quesadilla into skillet. Cook until bottom tortilla is crisp and lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Turn quesadilla by first sliding it onto plate and inverting a second plate over it. Flip plates while pressing them firmly together. Slide quesadilla, uncooked side down, back into pan, and cook second side until crisp. On plate, cut quesadilla into 8 wedges. Serve immediately, accompanied by your favorite salsa.

Makes 8 wedges.

Per wedge: 90 calories, 5 g. total fat (2 g. saturated fat),
9 g. carbohydrate, 5 g. protein, 2 g. dietary fiber, 126 mg. sodium

By Keith | May 4, 2010

Herb-Roasted Chicken Breast

Celebrate National Garden Month by using some home-grown herbs to amp up your meal. Add flavor without much salt in this recipe, highlighting the season’s multitude of fresh herbs and spices. Lemon zest and cayenne pepper give a flavorful kick without overpowering the boldness of the oregano, thyme and sage. Pair with a cool spring salad and your meal will be the envy of any garden party.

2 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. ground sage
1/8 tsp. ground fennel (optional)
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. freshly-ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 split whole skinless chicken breast with ribs, about 1 1/2 lbs, cut into 4 pieces Olive or canola oil cooking spray

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. In a small bowl, combine garlic, lemon zest, oregano, thyme, sage, fennel (if using), cayenne, salt and black pepper. Whisk in oil and lemon juice. Rub mixture over chicken pieces, coating pieces well. Place chicken on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside for 15 minutes.

3. Arrange chicken in a shallow baking dish just large enough to hold pieces. Bake for 15 minutes. Lightly coat chicken with cooking spray, and bake 15 minutes more. Spray chicken again. Bake until juices run clear and meat looks white when the breast is pierced with a knife in center at thickest point, about 10 minutes more. Let sit 10 minutes for juices to settle before serving. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 188 calories, 5 g. total fat (1 g. saturated fat),
1 g. carbohydrate, 31 g. protein, 0 g. dietary fiber, 379 mg. sodium

By Keith | April 20, 2010

Garden Vegetables with Red Pepper Aioli

This great appetizer is the perfect chance to savor fresh garden vegetables without the heavy dressing or complicated cooking instructions that some recipes call for. To learn more about phytochemicals and their relation to cancer risk, check out AICR’s comprehensive guide <> . This recipe is so versatile; if a vegetable isn’t readily available, you can easily substitute in any vegetable in your garden.

1 large roasted red bell pepper*
3 garlic cloves
1 can (14oz) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. low fat mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
Pinch cayenne pepper
Ground black pepper
8 (1 1/2-inch) potatoes, or 4 (2-inch) potatoes, preferably purple
1 medium zucchini, quartered and cut into 3-inch sticks
1/4 pound string beans, tipped
12 asparagus spears
12 1-inch cauliflower florets

1. In food processor, whirl red pepper and garlic until finely chopped. Add beans and salt and whirl to a pulpy puree. Add mayonnaise, lemon juice and cayenne and whirl to blend. Season to taste with pepper. Scoop aioli into serving bowl and set aside for 30 minutes to allow flavors to meld or cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

2. In medium saucepan, cover potatoes with cold water to a depth of 2 inches and cook over medium-high heat until potatoes are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.

3. Set large saucepan of water to boil over high heat. Fill large bowl with ice water. Cook zucchini for 1 1/2 minutes, remove from boiling water using slotted spoon and cool squash in ice water. Drain well. Following the same steps, and in this order, cook string beans for 2 minutes, asparagus for 1 1/2 minutes and cauliflower for 2 minutes.

4. To serve, arrange vegetables around aioli serving bowl on large platter.
*If possible, roast pepper yourself.

5. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place seeded pepper half, cut-side down, on oiled baking sheet and roast 20 to 30 minutes, until skin is well-blistered. Place pepper in small bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 20 minutes. Using fingers, remove skin. Roasted peppers may be tightly covered and refrigerated for up to 4 days.

Makes 4 servings.
Per serving: 200 calories, 5 g total fat ( 0.5 g saturated fat),
32 g carbohydrate,  9 g protein, 8 g dietary fiber, 440 mg sodium

By Keith | April 9, 2010

Tuscan Chickpea Soup

This surprisingly easy soup is both light and filling and perfect for a cool spring day. This dish is a warm comfort, reminiscent of the Tuscan countryside; with fresh herbs and hearty chickpeas you can enjoy this soup in as little as 30 minutes, anytime, anywhere. Plus AICR’s special prep tips help avoid high levels of sodium found in most canned beans. (Read about studies revealing garlic’s anti-cancer potential.)

2 cans (15 oz.) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 large whole garlic cloves, peeled
1 can (14 1/4 oz.) reduced-sodium vegetable broth
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups water
1 medium onion, chopped
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil, for garnish (optional)
1 tsp. lemon juice (optional)
2 1/2 Tbsp. minced flat-leaf parsley, for garnish (optional)

1. Place chickpeas and garlic in large saucepan. Pour broth and 2 cups cold water into pot. Add liquid to pot and over medium-high heat, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until beans are very soft, 20 minutes. Let the soup sit 10 minutes to cool slightly.

2. Meanwhile, heat oil in small skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Transfer mixture to blender.

3. Add chickpeas, garlic, liquid, tomato paste and rosemary. Purée until smooth. This may need to be done in 2 batches. Make soup smooth or leave some texture, as you prefer. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. To serve, ladle soup into bowls. Garnish each either by drizzling 1/2-teaspoon of olive oil over the soup, or by mixing in 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Sprinkle with parsley.

Makes 6 servings or 6 cups.

Per serving: 142 calories, 3 g. total fat (less than 1 g. saturated fat),
21 g. carbohydrate, 8 g. protein, 5 g. dietary fiber, 372 mg. sodium.

By Keith | April 5, 2010

Baked Pasta with Butternut Squash

Mix up your traditional pasta with sweet butternut squash. This versatile vegetable can be found at any grocery store or local farmers’ market through the end of winter. The mild, earthy flavor of baked squash is enhanced with the addition of sage and nutmeg to make a savory-sweet entrée. A delicious one-pot meal, it’s also an excellent source of vitamins A and C.

1 package (16 oz.) whole-grain rigatoni pasta
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
5 shallots, sliced (about 1 cup)
2 cloves garlic minced
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 butternut squash (about 2 lbs.), peeled, seeded, and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
5 medium sage leaves, chopped (about 1 1/2-2 Tbsp.)
1 (14 oz.) can reduced-sodium vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups low-fat (1 %) milk
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
4 Tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 cup whole-wheat bread crumbs

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Cook pasta per package directions, but cut cooking time by 2 minutes since pasta will keep cooking in the oven. Drain and set aside.

3. In medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add shallots and cook until golden, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally and being careful not to burn. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Add squash and cook, covered, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add sage and broth. Cook uncovered 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender and most of the liquid is absorbed. Add milk and heat through. Add grated nutmeg. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

5. Meanwhile, spoon pasta into 9×13 ceramic baking dish. Add 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese to pasta and toss until well mixed. Add squash mixture and mix well. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and remaining Parmesan.

6. Bake 30 minutes or until center is hot and top is golden. If desired, drizzle an additional 1 tablespoon of high quality extra virgin olive oil over pasta before serving.

Makes 8 servings

Per serving: 360 calories, 7 g total fat (1.5 g saturated fat),
63 g carbohydrate, 13 g protein, 7 g dietary fiber, 300 mg sodium.

By Keith | March 17, 2010

Green Mashed Potatoes

1-1/2 cup lightly packed cups baby spinach leaves
3/4 lb. small potatoes, preferably yellow-fleshed
1 large garlic clove, peeled
1/4 cup finely chopped scallions, green part only
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Place spinach in food processor. Whirl, stopping as needed to scrape down sides of the bowl, until spinach is finely chopped and moist but not pureed. (This step can also be done with a large, sharp knife.) Set aside.

2. Place potatoes and garlic in a saucepan. Add cold water until the level is 2 inches above potatoes. Set over medium-high heat until water boils, then reduce heat and cook until potatoes are very soft, 20 to 25 minutes, depending on their size.

3. Drain potatoes and garlic in colander, then immediately return them to hot pot, shaking pan until potatoes look dry. With fork, roughly mash potatoes to break them up. Add spinach, scallions and oil. Mash until potatoes are fluffy and bright green, with skins well mixed in. Spinach will be wilted rather than soft. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings or 2 cups
Per serving: 103 calories, 4 g. total fat (less than 1 g. saturated fat),
16 g. carbohydrate, 2 g. protein, 3 g. dietary fiber, 22 mg. sodium

By Keith | February 17, 2010

Fennel and Red Grapefruit Salad with Asiago Cheese

Fennel Salad

Citrus fruits can dress up a winter salad with healthy vitamin C. The cancer-fighting compound lycopene makes the grapefruit in this recipe red.This week’s recipe is an elegant yet simple combination of grapefruit sections, fennel wedges and shards of savory Italian Asiago cheese, dressed with a drizzle of olive oil. In case you’ve never tried it, fresh fennel resembles celery, with a larger bulb at the base. It’s easy to find in most supermarkets, and has a crisp texture, delicately pale green color and slightly licorice-sweet taste. Combined with juicy red grapefruit and piquant slivers of Asiago, this salad gets rid of the winter blahs in a hurry.

1 large fennel bulb
1 large red grapefruit
1 oz. Asiago cheese
4 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil, preferably mild and fruity
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Trim the fennel by slicing it across the top just where the bulb starts to swell, cutting off any stalks and fronds. Cut off a slice from the tough bottom. With your fingers pull away any tough or bruised outer layers. Halve the bulb vertically, making 2 pieces. Cut each half vertically into five 1/2-inch wedges. Trim away most of the hard core from each wedge, leaving just enough to hold its layers together.

2. Cut the top and bottom off the grapefruit, cutting deep enough to expose the flesh. Standing the grapefruit on its flat bottom on a work surface, work a knife down the side, following the curved shape of the fruit to slice the peel and white pith in a strip. Keep rotating the grapefruit until all the peel is removed. Holding the peeled fruit over a bowl, work the knife in along the membrane on both sides of every section, releasing the flesh into the bowl. Squeeze the juice from the membrane into the bowl.

3. To assemble the salad, on each of four salad plates, arrange 5 fennel edges in an arc. Fan out 4 grapefruit wedges below the fennel, slightly overlapping them. Holding the chunk of cheese over each plate, use a vegetable peeler to shave a few thin slices over the salad, using one-quarter ounce of the cheese for each serving. Drizzle 1 teaspoon of the oil over each salad. Season with a pinch of ground pepper. Serve the salad immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

Per serving:
110 calories, 7 g total fat (2 g saturated fat), 11 g carbohydrate,
3 g protein,  3 g dietary fiber, 115 mg sodium.

By Keith | February 17, 2010

Baked Tomato and Goat Cheese Tartlets

Tomato Tartlets

You usually see berries, peaches and other fruits in tarts. But since tomatoes are botanically classified as fruits, it’s not far-fetched to put them in tarts as well. These mini “tartlets” take a little extra time, but are worth it! They’re a luscious appetizer or even a main course if eaten with a green salad or hot vegetable side dish. They feature low-fat goat cheese topped with vitamin-C rich tomatoes on a mouthwatering homemade crust. Tomatoes also contain lycopene, a natural phytochemical that makes them red and has shown potential in preventing prostate cancer.

4 ripe plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup whole-wheat flour
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3 tsp. sugar, divided
1/8 tsp. of salt
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
4 tsp. canola oil
3 Tbsp. ice water (approx.)
1/4 cup reduced-fat goat cheese
2 Tbsp. finely minced shallots
1 Tbsp. reduced-fat milk
1 tsp. dried basil

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange tomatoes on baking sheet, cut side up, and rub with olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Roast for 45 minutes, until tomatoes are barely soft and hold their shape. Set aside, and decrease oven to 325 degrees.

2. In food processor, combine whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, 2 tsp. sugar and salt. Pulse a few seconds to combine. Add butter and oil. Pulse until mixture resembles lumpy crumbs. With food processor running, add ice water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until dough just starts to come together. Turn dough out onto wax paper and gently press together, making 5-inch disk. Wrap dough in wax paper and refrigerate 30 minutes, up to 24 hours.

3. If dough is chilled longer than 30 minutes, let sit at room temperature 10 minutes. Place dough between 2 sheets of wax paper and roll out into an 11-inch disk. Remove top sheet of waxed paper.  Using a glass as a guide, cut out four 4-inch rounds of dough and transfer to baking sheet. Prick dough all over with fork and refrigerate 10 minutes. Bake tartlet rounds 10 minutes. Remove baking pan and increase oven temperature to 375 degrees.

4. For filling, in a small bowl, mash together goat cheese, shallots and milk. Spread one-fourth of cheese on each tartlet round. Top with 2 roasted tomato halves, cut side up. Sprinkle remaining 1 tsp. sugar and basil over tomatoes.

5. Bake 10 minutes, or until pastry edges are lightly golden. Cheese will look cracked. Let tartlets stand 10 minutes. Serve warm.

Makes 4 servings.

Per serving:
250 calories, 12 g total fat (4 g saturated fat), 27 g carbohydrate,
5 g protein, 2 g dietary fiber, 115 mg sodium.

By Keith | February 1, 2010

Why are omega-3 fatty acids so healthful?

By: Martha Filipic or 614-292-9833

Although scientists are still discovering a wide range of beneficial effects of omega-3 fatty acids — a type of polyunsaturated fat — most of the evidence so far has been linked to the prevention of heart disease.

“The Nutrition Source” from the Harvard School of Public Health ( offers a great explanation of omega-3s. First and foremost, they are an essential part of cell membranes throughout the body. They help membranes’ receptors do their work, and help regulate blood clotting, inflammation, and the function of artery walls.

In a recent issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers measured blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids and the length of telomeres — structures at the ends of chromosomes that get shorter every time a cell divides — in about 600 heart disease patients over five years. Shorter telomeres are a marker of “biological age” and are an indicator of less-healthy cells. The researchers found that patients with a higher blood level of omega-3s had longer telomeres; they believe this may be one reason why omega-3s are associated with heart health. Other research indicates that omega-3s help the heart by decreasing the risk of abnormal heartbeats, which can lead to sudden death; decreasing triglyceride levels; slowing the growth rate of atherosclerotic plaque; and lowering blood pressure, at least a bit.

Omega-3s may help control other conditions, as well. Another recent study, this one in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, linked the risk of age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in older adults, with lower consumption of omega-3s, particularly the types that come from fatty fish: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).

The third type of omega-3 is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is found in vegetable oils, particularly canola and soybean oil; nuts, especially walnuts; leafy green vegetables; flaxseed; and, sometimes, animal fat, especially from grass-fed animals. The body converts some ALA into DHA and EPA, but the best sources for the latter types are fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines, and albacore tuna.

The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two 3.5-ounce servings of fish per week, particularly fatty fish, to get enough omega-3s. It also suggests that people with coronary heart disease talk with their doctor about increasing intake of EPA and DHA, from food or supplements, to about 1 gram a day.

For information on omega-3 levels in a wide variety of foods, see the “Foods by Nutrient” listing on and search for foods highest in total omega-3 fats. The listing gives the estimated amount of omega-3s in 100 grams (about 3.5 ounces) of the foods listed.

Source: Julie Shertzer, OSU Extension, Human Nutrition
Chow Line is a service of Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Martha Filipic, 2021 Coffey Road, Columbus, OH, 43210-1044, or

Editor: This column was reviewed by Julie Shertzer, registered dietitian and program specialist for Ohio State University Extension in the Department of Human Nutrition, in the College of Education and Human Ecology.

By Keith | January 26, 2010

Brown Rice Pilaf with Squash and Chicken

Pack veggies and lean meat into an anytime meal that everyone will enjoy. Hearty brown rice contains essential vitamins and minerals and has nearly four times more fiber than enriched white rice. Research has shown that diets high in fiber may help lower the risk of colorectal cancer.

1 cup brown rice (uncooked)
2 cups fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 cup chopped zucchini
1 cup chopped yellow squash
2 cups cubed cooked chicken breast
1-1/2 Tbsp. reduced sodium soy sauce
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Cook brown rice according to package instructions, substituting chicken broth for water.

2. Meanwhile, in large nonstick skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, zucchini and yellow squash and sautŽ for 5 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Add chicken and soy sauce and cook for 1 minute.

3. Add cooked rice and egg to the skillet. Stir over medium heat until egg is just cooked.

4. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with toasted almonds and serve.

Makes 5 servings

Per serving:
327 calories, 9 g total fat (2 g saturated fat), 36 g carbohydrate,
24 g protein, 3 g dietary fiber, 459 mg sodium.



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