Today’s Recipe: Crispy Cod

Dredging fish in breadcrumbs is an excellent combination, but how about kicking it up a notch by swapping breadcrumbs out for mustard and cereal? This dish is easy to make in a pinch and will appeal to even the pickiest eaters.

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

1 1/2 pounds cod fillet, cut into four pieces

2 teaspoons garlic powder 

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 cup Dijon-style or honey-style mustard

2 cups Kellogg’s® Special K® cereal, crushed

4 tablespoons vegetable oil

Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Season the cod with the garlic powder, thyme, salt and pepper.
  3. Using a small knife or offset spatula, spread the mustard evenly over each fillet.
  4. Crush the cereal by putting it into a re-sealable plastic bag and running a rolling pin over its surface to make coarse crumbs. Place the crumbs on a flat plate and dredge the mustard-covered side of the cod fillets in the crumbs. (Cod can be refrigerated at this point, if necessary.)
  5. In a large skillet, add the oil and heat over moderately high heat. When hot, add the cod to the pan, crumb side down, and cook 10 to 20 seconds until golden brown. Turn to second side and cook an additional two minutes. Transfer to a foil-lined baking sheet and finish cooking in the oven for 10 minutes longer, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.

Today’s Recipe: Cereal-Crusted Halibut

Cereal toasts beautifully under the broiler to give this simple fish dish a crispy, salty-sweet, low-fat coating. Yum!



Makes 4 servings

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups Kellogg’s® Smart Start® cereal

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill

3/4 teaspoon salt

4 halibut fillets, 6 to 7 ounces each

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

  1. Place oven rack in top position of oven, closest to broiler. Place a second rack in middle position. Preheat oven to 400 F. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with heavy-duty aluminum foil.
  2. Combine cereal, dill and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl.
  3. Place halibut fillets on baking sheet. Brush with oil and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Bake until fish flakes with a fork, about 12 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven and brush with mustard. Spoon cereal mixture onto fillets, pressing on it with the back of a spoon so it adheres to fish.
  5. Turn oven to broil. Return pan to upper rack of oven, and broil until halibut crust is deep golden, about 30 seconds. Note: Watch carefully, because crust will burn quickly as soon as it has browned.
  6. Transfer fillets to dinner plates and serve immediately.

Eat Like an Italian!

You’ve probably heard that the Mediterranean diet, based on the cooking and eating style of the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, is good for your heart thanks to its focus on good-for-you fats, small portions of meats, fresh fish, lots of veggies, and even regular enjoyment of heart-healthy red wine.

Research shows that the Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of heart disease. An analysis of more than 1.5 million healthy adults demonstrated that following the diet was associated with a reduced risk of death from heart disease, as well as a reduced incidence of other diseases.

This holiday season, we spoke with nutritionist Lisa Stollman to find out which healthy eating habits you should borrow from Italians to help your heart.

1. Become a veggie lover.

Veggies are loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber, in addition to being the lowest-calorie food group. Eating lots of them can benefit your waistline as well as your heart, says Stollman. Orange red, and yellow veggies (e.g., squash, peppers and carrots) are packed with carotenoids, fiber and vitamins to help your heart. Nosh on veggies first at every meal so you’ll have less room in your stomach for pasta and meats.

2. Drizzle some olive oil.

Olive oil is a heart-friendly fat that may help lower LDL cholesterol (the kind that’s bad for your heart). It also increases HDL levels (the good cholesterol). Since oil is high in calories and fat, measure out a teaspoon or two before you drizzle it on veggies, salads or pastas.

3. Keep meat portions modest.

Meat is not the focus of the meal at many Italians’ tables. Limit servings of meat, fish or chicken to 3 ounces cooked per person, and base the meal around vegetables. Also consider Meatless Mondays, or other ways to swap out multiple meals including meat, so you can enjoy it more when you do eat it.

4. Dine with family.

Studies have shown that families who eat together tend to have healthier weights. And a healthy weight puts less stress on the heart, says Stollman. Quality family time and a healthier life? We’ll call that a win-win situation.

5. Engage in conversation.

Conversing with family and friends while eating is a strong focus of Italians’ meals. Pace yourself during the meal by putting your fork down and taking part in chatter. Sip water while listening to others and chew slowly when you are eating. This will help you tune in to your body’s “feeling full” signals so you don’t overeat.

6. Eat with the seasons.

When you choose fruits and vegetables that are in season, the produce is even more nutrient rich, says Stollman. Visit your local farmers' market to purchase just-picked fruits and veggies. You should find that they taste much better than their store-bought counterparts, which were probably picked weeks earlier. If you’re unable to buy in-season, opt for frozen varieties -- they’re just as healthy!

7. Nosh on more whole grains.

Italians enjoy lots of fiber-filled foods, including whole-grain breads, cereals and beans. These “provide fiber, which not only helps lower cholesterol but provides a feeling of satiety,” says Stollman. Two easy ways to get more fiber daily: Choose morning cereals that are high in fiber, and add beans to your salads.

8. Toast with a glass of red.

Enjoy a glass of wine with your meal. Red wine is rich in reservatrol, a potent phytochemical known for its heart benefits. Keep in mind that for good health, you should stop at one glass (4 ounces) per day for women and two for men; this is the recommended serving size. You can also find phytochemical reservatrol in red and purple grape juice.

9. Eat fresh fruit for dessert.

If Italians have cakes or pastries, it’s only a small serving. Instead, they focus on fruits, like cantaloupe, kiwis and strawberries. Cut up your favorites and make a colorful fruit plate to serve at the end of the meal. Many fresh fruits contain potassium, which relaxes blood vessel walls and may help lower blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association.

4 Eating Habits You Didn’t Know Were Bad

Ever “save up” calories all day so you can splurge at a gathering? While it may sound like a smart eating decision, that practice may actually lead to overeating. We talked to registered dietitian Lisa Stollman to help you identify why this and three other common food blunders aren’t as good-for-you as you may have thought -- and how to fix them.

1. Not eating much during the day to save calories for a gathering.

The Problem:
 You’ll likely get to the party starving. This means you’ll be more inclined to make poor eating decisions -- like shoveling mini-pizzas and fried egg rolls into your mouth within minutes.

Fix it: Don't skip meals during the day, and always eat a small meal or snack before you leave for the soirée. That way you (not the food) will be in control.

2. Saving up food calories for alcoholic drinks.

The Problem: When you drink a cocktail on an empty stomach, the alcohol enters your bloodstream more quickly, according to Medline Plus, making you feel the effects sooner. Bottom line: You’ll be more likely to make unhealthy food choices.

Fix it: If you arrive at a restaurant and haven’t eaten since lunch, have some food first before you drink, suggests Stollman. Ideally, aim to eat before you leave home. (One nutritious option: having a handful of cereal, like Kellogg's® Raisin Bran®.) And be sure to drink a lot of water throughout the evening -- it will keep you hydrated, and may help boost your body’s water content, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center, so you’re less likely to reach for unhealthy snacks. “You should leave the restaurant feeling good because you didn't overindulge in food and spirits,” says Stollman.

3. Baking tons of small cookies and sweets to have on hand for company.

The Problem: The treats are always in your kitchen, calling your name. Unless you hate sweets, chances are, you’ll nibble a few even when company isn’t over.

Fix it: This year, make fewer calorie-rich desserts when company’s coming over. Instead, focus on creating fresh fruit plates featuring exotic fruits, such as dragon fruit, mango, papaya and lychee. You can also make a healthy sundae bar with nonfat, protein-rich Greek yogurt as your base. The fun part is adding yogurt toppings with texture and flavor -- from sweet dried and fresh fruit to nuts and crunchy cereals, such as Kellogg's® Special K®. Enjoy your healthy sundae according to your tastes to create a custom dessert.

4. Eating quickly so you can save calories by getting away from the food faster.

The Problem: When you eat fast, you usually eat too much, since it takes time for the food we eat to move from the stomach to the intestines -- therefore requiring a longer period of time for fullness to register with the brain.

Fix it: Use a small salad plate if you’re at a buffet. Take small bites and chew each at least 20 times. By the time your stomach has felt the first sensation of fullness and signaled your brain that you’ve had enough to eat, you will most likely still have food on your plate, says Stollman. Put the plate aside and enjoy your time with your friends!

Today’s Recipe: Braised Chicken

There are SO many chicken recipes out there that it's easy to get bored fast. We think it pays to be creative. Next time you're planning a chicken dinner, try this braised version with mushrooms and almonds. Besides loving the flavor, you'll benefit from the heart-healthy nuts: According to a British Journal of Nutrition study, daily consumption of 2 ounces of nuts -- like almonds, walnuts and peanuts -- lowers LDL by around 5 percent.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

4 tablespoons olive oil

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

1 large sweet onion, sliced

1 1/2 pounds sliced mushrooms

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried thyme leaf

1 bay leaf

1 1/2 cups dry white wine

4 cups chicken broth

Grated rind of one lemon

Juice of one lemon

1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1/2 cup sliced, toasted almonds

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Heat the oil over high heat in a large Dutch oven fitted with a lid. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. When the oil is hot, add half the chicken and cook about three minutes per side, or until golden brown. Note: Try not to turn the chicken too soon or it will stick. Transfer to a plate while cooking the second batch. When all the chicken is cooked, put to the side.
  3. Add the onion, mushrooms and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions and mushrooms are soft and they start to brown, about eight minutes. Add thyme, bay leaf and wine. Bring to a boil, scraping up browned bits from the bottom of the pan and allow the liquid to reduce by half. Add the broth and chicken. Allow it to come to a simmer. Cover the pan and transfer to the oven for 30 minutes.
  4. Remove the pan from the oven, transfer the cooked chicken to a platter and keep warm. Finish the sauce.
  5. Bring the pan liquid to a boil and reduce again by half or until slightly thickened. Stir in the lemon rind, juice and mustard and whisk well until incorporated into the sauce. Stir in chopped parsley, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and spoon the sauce over the chicken. Sprinkle the toasted almonds. Serve immediately.