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Alternative cook offers nutrition tips

To maximize health during National Nutrition Month, how about designating two or three days a week as 'healthy days' and eat vegetarian or even vegan on those days? The benefits extend from loosing weight to saving money. "Vegetarian foods taste great if you know a few tricks. It's less expensive, more nutritious and lower calorie than dairy and animal-based foods. Go gluten-free for maximum benefits" says cooking DVD producer and author, Jean Duane, Alternative Cook.

Let's say you enjoy Mexican foods, but want to avoid the meat, cheese, high fat calories and cholesterol associated with it. Two beef and cheese enchiladas on average contain 1400 calories, 90 grams of fat and 234 grams of cholesterol. That's more than half of your recommended daily allowance! To make authentic-tasting Mexican foods packed with nutrition, first think about the spices and flavors identified with Mexican foods such as chili powder, fresh cilantro, jalapenos, mild green chilies, garlic, oregano, cumin, coriander, tomatoes, lime and tamarind. Next, think about the 'mouth-feel' - the smooth, creamy cheese and guacomole, spicy sauces combined with chewy tortillas and crunchy chopped vegetables on top. Finally, consider main ingredients - beans, corn, rice, meat, cheese, salsa, sour cream, tortillas and vegetables. With this in mind, let's look at alternatives to convert a traditional dish to be vegetarian, gluten and dairy free to boot!

Nutritious Alternatives
To cut calories and cholesterol, instead of using beef, use half pinto beans and half chopped mushrooms. This combination makes a nice "beefy" taste and texture, but with no fat or cholesterol.

Instead of using high-fat cheddar or American cheese, make a dairy free filling with tofu, nutritional yeast, garlic and fresh herbs. It is delicious and tastes just like cheese. Forego the cheese on top, and substitute with fresh shredded zucchini and salsa.

Sour Cream
Thinning silken tofu in a food processor adding a little vinegar, lemon juice and olive oil makes delicious sour cream alternative with no fat and no cholesterol. (Recipe below.)

Emphasize Veggies
Top the dish with chopped spinach, shredded jicama or lettuce and pile on the guacomole. Guacomole may contain fat, but it is good for you, and so easy to make. Just mash avocado with a little lemon juice and garlic salt.

Fresh Salsa
Fresh salsas the perfect thing to celebrate Nutrition Week and spring! Just chop jicama, fresh cilantro, tomatoes, onion, corn kernels, a little lime juice, and salt.

by S. C.
12 march 2009, Food & Fun > Knowledge