STYLE

Healthy cooking for 2: new cookbook is ideal for small households

01/24/2012 01:20 EST | Updated 03/25/2012 05:12 EDT
Most cookbooks carry recipes to serve four to six, so what do empty nesters or households of one or two do with all the leftovers?

Well, says Ellie Topp, they can reheat the remainder for the next day or freeze them, but this is often not practical. Especially if they have a smaller condo-sized fridge or no freezer at all.

To manage this, Topp, a retired home economist and her colleague Marilyn Booth, a retired dietitian, both of Ottawa, worked together to produce "Fresh & Healthy Cooking for Two: Easy Meals For Everyday Life" (Formac Publishing Co., $24.95, paperback).

The book takes a close look at fresh local ingredients and adheres to the healthy eating guidelines set out by Canada’s Food Guide, says Topp.

"First and foremost we endeavoured to make sure there was the right balance of carbohydrates and all the other nutrients needed for a healthy diet," she says. "And we tried to limit sodium so that the recipes would contain a milligram of sodium for each calorie.”

Most people need about 1,500 plus calories and the guideline is about 1,500 mg of sodium daily, but Topp says that a lot of recipes in general have much more sodium that they do calories.

What is clearly evident in this bright and appealing publication is its focus on dishes that are not only delicious, but also simple and easy to prepare.

"We find these days the way we cook has changed," says Topp. "The older cookbooks with a lot of fat, butter, whipping cream or whatever were all wonderful, but you still need to be healthy and you can do so by following simple ingredients cooked well."

Many baby boomers have adopted healthier lifestyles through regular exercise and proper eating, and this is a great guide as they head into their senior years, she says.

And she and her husband Clark are a shining example of healthier retirees — cross-country skiing in the winter and swimming at their cottage in the summer.

Here from the book is a vibrant pasta dish for two. It is brimming with healthful ingredients. Topped with feta, it makes a superb main dish. Use broccoli or any leafy green such as Swiss chard or kale to replace the rapini.

Pasta With Feta Cheese

500 ml (2 cups) whole-grain fusilli or rotini pasta, about 150 g (5 oz)

15 ml (1 tbsp) olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

6 plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped (about 375 g/12 oz)

1 l (4 cups) coarsely chopped rapini

6 leaves fresh basil, chopped, or 5 ml (1 tsp) dried

125 ml (1/2 cup) crumbled feta cheese

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta for 10 minutes or until tender but firm. Drain and rinse with hot water.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute or until lightly browned. Add tomatoes. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes or until softened, stirring frequently. Stir in rapini and basil, return to boil, cover and boil gently for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally or until rapini is tender.

Divide pasta between in two bowls, spoon tomato mixture over and top with cheese.

Makes 2 servings.

Nutritional information per serving: 494 calories; 17 g fat (7 g saturated fat); 472 mg sodium, 72 g carbohydrate; 22 g protein; 11 g fibre.

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