When It's too hot to cook, Skip the fast foods
ASSEMBLE HEALTHFUL, COOLING ENTRÉES IN MINUTES
it’s too hot to cook, some people resort to fast food, home deliveries, or other
packaged meals that are usually high in fat and calories but low in nutrients.
Instead, advises the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), the
health-conscious can use its new, no-cook recipes to assemble quick meals that
are easy on cooks and waistlines but full of eye appeal and protection against
many chronic illnesses.
"Light but filling salads make perfect entrées in hot weather," says Melanie
Polk, RD, AICR's Director of Nutrition Education. "With AICR's easy recipes and
a little effort spent slicing, opening cans, mixing and assembling, you can
quickly create a colorful, rich-flavored meal that’s not only nutritious and
low-fat, but also packed with lots of substances that protect us from chronic
health problems like cancer and heart disease."
Polk believes that variety is the secret to making a salad rich in flavor,
color and healthful substances. “Just as an entrée has great appeal when it has
many colors, flavors and textures, a dish with a wide variety of ingredients,
especially vegetables and fruits, has more disease-fighting substances whose
powers are boosted by their interaction. There are hundreds of these special
substances, called phytochemicals, so the greater variety you get, the better
your health protection.”
The Phytochemicals in Vegetables and Fruits Are Key to Health Protection
tell us that individual vegetables and fruits are distinctive in the particular
phytochemicals they contain,” says Polk. “For example, the vegetables you
typically find in a salad – leafy greens, tomatoes, bell peppers – offer
different phytochemicals, each with its own array of health benefits.”
Just one serving of dark leafy greens is estimated to contain over 100
different phytochemicals. Scientists don’t yet understand exactly how they all
work, but they do know we can maximize their effectiveness by including them,
along with a wide variety of other vegetables and fruits, in our daily meals.
Dark, leafy greens like romaine lettuce and spinach contain lutein and
zeaxanthin, powerful antioxidants that have been linked to reduced risk of
age-related macular degeneration and lung cancer. Other good sources for these
phytochemicals include corn, asparagus and eggs.
Bell peppers are a good source of phytochemicals called phenols, especially
coumarins and terpenes, which help fend off cancer. Red bell peppers also
contain lutein and zeaxanthin.
Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, considered the most powerful antioxidant in
the carotenoid family. Lycopene is thought to reduce the risk of prostate cancer
and possibly breast cancer as well.
Researchers funded by AICR believe it is the action of many of these
phytochemicals, perhaps thousands, regulating and enhancing each other that
boost our defenses against chronic disease.
For this reason, health experts recommend eating a wide variety of
vegetables and fruits every day.
When It’s Too Hot to Cook, Open, Slice, Mix and Assemble
refrigerator and pantry shelves probably contain everything you need to put
together a main-course salad,” says Polk.
“A summer salad can be as simple as opening cans, cutting up vegetables and
fruits, mixing a dressing and assembling the various elements – all in just
about 30 minutes.
“Many families keep leafy green lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and bell
peppers on hand. Your pantry shelves could hold other salad ingredients that can
be stored a long time.” Many vegetables and legumes are sold in jars or cans:
asparagus, artichoke hearts, corn, chickpeas, beans, olives and specialty items
like roasted bell peppers and hearts of palm.
"Don't forget that canned as well as fresh fruit work well in salads," adds
Polk, "but use water- or juice-packed versions, or rinse those that only come in
a sugar syrup."
"Leftovers can also be used," Polk notes, "from cooked grains like rice,
bulgur and couscous to chicken, fish and other meats." Refrigerated cooked
grains may need to be briefly revived in the microwave. Dried Asian noodles like
bean thread and rice noodles only need to soak briefly in hot water to
reconstitute and soften.
can be mixed together to form a tossed salad or, for a change of pace and
festive, eye-catching appeal, arrange them in mounds on either individual plates
or a large serving platter lined with leafy green lettuce," suggests Polk. "Just
keep in mind that the most healthful proportion to use is one-third for the meat
or other animal protein and the other two-thirds of the plate for vegetables,
fruits, beans and grains."
The following Recipes contains rich south-of-the-border flavor and color,
and makes a refreshing but filling one-dish meal.
The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the nation’s third
largest cancer charity, focusing exclusively on the link between diet and
cancer. The Institute provides a wide range of consumer education programs that
help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk.
Web address is www.aicr.org