From Your Table to Your Health: The Skinny on Fat Tuesday

Becky Varner has tips for making your Fat Tuesday heart-healthy.
BY BECKY VARNER beckyvarner@cox.net Modified: February 6, 2013 at 9:35 am •  Published: February 6, 2013

Use skim or 1 percent-fat milk and fat-free or low-fat dairy products. Get in the habit of drinking skim milk as a beverage with meals or for a snack. Use it to make smoothies, pudding or cream soup. Enjoy fat-free yogurt and low-fat cheeses for snacks or part of a meal.

Select mostly unsaturated oils such as safflower, olive, canola and corn instead of saturated, trans and solid fats. Be sure to stay within calorie limits — all fats are high in calories. Choose foods that are low in cholesterol, saturated fats and trans fats. Look for foods prepared with little or no added salt.

Balance the number of calories eaten and physical activity to maintain a healthy body weight. Limit added sugar in the diet and sugared beverages.

Today, I've got three heart-healthy recipes for Mardi Gras.

First we have a Cajun seasoning mix that is much lower in sodium than many you will find. We are using it to prepare our Cajun Salmon. Of course, we chose salmon because it is a fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, which promotes heart health. To serve with our salmon we have a coleslaw recipe that is sweet and tart to complement the spicy character of the Cajun Salmon. Our dirty rice recipe uses whole-grain brown rice instead of white rice to add a serving of whole grain to the meal and also replaces the high-fat and high-sodium sausage often used in a traditional recipe with sauteed bell pepper, celery and reduced-sodium chicken broth for flavor. Enjoy!


Cajun Seasoning Mix

Makes 6½ teaspoons

1 tablespoon paprika

½ teaspoon salt

¾ teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon white pepper

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

• Combine all ingredients in a small container with a tight fitting lid. Stir gently.

• Secure lid and shake to mix.

• Sprinkle ½ to 1 teaspoon seasoning mix on 3 to 4 ounces of fish, poultry or lean read meat and bake, grill or broil until done.

Nutrition Information: This recipe makes 6½ teaspoons seasoning mix. Each teaspoon contains approximately 5 calories, .2 grams fat and 177 mg sodium.

Cajun Salmon

Makes 4 servings

4 salmon fillets (4 ounces each)

4 teaspoons Cajun seasoning mix

1 medium avocado, peeled and cut in slices

• Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

• Spray a glass baking dish with a nonstick cooking spray.

• Sprinkle ½ teaspoon Cajun seasoning mix on one side of each salmon fillet and lightly press into salmon. Turn fillets over and sprinkle each with another ½ teaspoon Cajun seasoning mix. Place each in prepared baking dish.

• Place in oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until fish is thoroughly cooked and flakes easily when pierced with a fork.

• Place salmon fillets on serving platter and garnish with avocado slices.

Nutrition Information: This recipe makes 4 servings. Each serving contains approximately 242 calories, 15 grams fat and 231 mg sodium.

Coleslaw

Makes 4 servings

4 cups coleslaw mix

2 tablespoons honey at room temperature

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon olive oil

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

• Combine honey, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper in a medium serving bowl and stir well to mix.

• Add coleslaw mix and toss to coat.

• Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Nutrition Information: This recipe makes 4 servings. Each serving contains approximately 75 calories, 4 grams fat and 194 mg sodium.

Dirty Rice

Makes 4 servings

2 cups instant whole grain brown rice

2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ cup finely diced celery

½ cup finely chopped red bell pepper

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

• Bring chicken stock to boil in a medium pan. Stir in rice and return to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, add bay leaf and cover. Cook for 5 to 10 until liquid is absorbed.

• Meanwhile pour oil in skillet and heat to medium. Add celery, bell pepper and black pepper and saute 3-4 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Remove from heat.

• When rice is done, stir in celery and bell pepper mixture and remove bay leaf.

• Serve immediately or keep warm until ready to serve.

Nutrition Information: This recipe makes 4 servings. Each serving contains approximately 199 calories, 5 grams fat and 320 mg sodium.

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