Food — The New American Plate Cookbook

The New American Plate Cookbook

By Amy Diaz

Recipes for a healthy weight and healthy life

The New American Plate Cookbook: Recipes for a Healthy Weight and a Healthy Life, By the American Institute for Cancer Research, University of California Press, 2005, 306 pages.

The eternal quest —healthy food that isn’t horrible.

Or hard, which is the problem I’ve run in to in the occasional healthy cooking book. Recipes that require many different machinations to get the flavors approximate to the unhealthy flavors you enjoy are no help to the average diet-conscious cook. A recipe that is too hard to make is one likely never to be made.

The New American Plate Cookbook seems to understand this and presents dishes with complex, layered flavor such as brushetta with green pea and roasted garlic spread, broiled asparagus with sesame sauce and a chocolate angel food cake with raspberries that are also relatively easy to put together. No metallic-tasting sugar substitutes, no difficult to find flour-replacement. The food is heavy on vegetables and herbs and light on unnecessary creams and fats (though, thankfully, cheese does sneak back in for salads and dip. Overall the book is sensible with foods that won’t be taxing to make or eat and are practical (many have 30 minute or less prep times) even for the after-work cook.

Need proof that healthy doesn’t mean giving up flavor? Try this recipe for the ultimate spring soup, easy gazpacho:

1 large tomato, seeded and chopped

1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

1 large roasted red bell pepper from a jar, seeded and coarsely chopped

2 large garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, loosely packed

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

3 cups tomato juice or vegetable juice

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Hot pepper sauce

Possible garnishes: Croutons, diced tomato, diced onions, minced fresh cilantro, diced cucumber

In a blender or food processor, combine the tomato, cucumber, onion, bell pepper, garlic, cilantro, vinegar and olive oil. Add 1 cup tomato juice and puree to the desired degree of smoothness. Stir in the remaining tomato juice. Add salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste.

Refrigerate the mixture for at least four hours and up to two days. Before serving, check seasoning and add salt, pepper and hot pepper sauce if desired.

Stir the soup and serve very cold in bowls or glasses. Garnish as desired.

      Amy Diaz


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