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CALORIES DO COUNT COOKBOOKS OFFER HEALTH-CONSCIOUS IDEAS LOW IN CALORIES, BUT FULL OF FLAVOR Cookbooks offer health-conscious ideas low in calories, but full of flavor.

Byline: Natalie Haughton, Food Editor

With summer and bathing suit season around the corner, you're trying to eat healthy, keep from overindulging or even reduce calorie intake and shed a few pounds. While all require discipline and constant vigilance, there is no magic bullet.

Healthy cooking and eating are really about the application of ingredients in your kitchen and diet, says Cheri Olerud, senior health editor, General Mills, who worked on the recently released "Pillsbury Fast & Healthy Cookbook: Delicious Family Meals in 30 Minutes or Less" (Wiley; $19.95). "It's really all about calories in and calories out."

The book's 140 quick and easy recipes follow healthy eating principles and are designed to be low in fat and calories and high in fiber and nutrients.

Lisa Lillien, author of the "Hungry Girl 200 Under 200: 200 Recipes Under 200 Calories," (St. Martin's Press; $19.95) to be released next week, helps consumers become calorie-conscious.

"Calories absolutely do count," says Lillien, Encino-based creator and founder of the hungry-girl.com e-mail newsletter that started almost five years ago with 150 subscribers and today boasts some 670,000 food-loving followers interested in guilt-free eating.

"Everyone needs a different amount of calories - depending on age, gender, weight." But Lillien is quick to note that the book, her second, is NOT a diet plan in any way.

People want recipes and want to know how many calories they are consuming. "And more importantly, they want options including lots of delicious foods they can eat as snacks, mini or small meals, desserts."

Who wouldn't want to indulge in a slice of 115-calorie Crustless Banana Cream Pie, a 186-calorie Turkey Reuben Quesadilla or a 154-calorie Grab 'n Go Breakfast Cookie? All can be found in the book along with egg dishes, tortilla creations, dips and dressings, cupcakes and more. Some can be used as lunches or you can whip up a few different recipes to make dinner.

While the book contains some natural foods, it also relies on packaged convenience items like cake mixes, reduced-fat crescent rolls, reduced-fat and fat-free cheeses, light buttery spreads, sugar-free french vanilla powdered creamers and other products low in calories. But Lillien makes no apologies.

"The recipes are about real world survival - and the book helps give people creative ideas under 200 calories per serving. They can be used to curb overindulging or to help people maintain or lose weight. These are things I really make and eat all the time and that are really, really, easy to make."

The most-desired low-calorie versions of indulgent recipes are those that taste great and are easy to make. Breakfast and desserts are the most popular, she adds. Among her favorites are the cinnamon rolls - "phenomenal" - and all the scrambles - "I eat them all the time - and the red velvet cupcakes - "I love them."

In "Fast & Healthy," to cut down on sugar, "we use a lot of fruit for sweets as they have virtually no fat and lots of nutrients," notes Olerud. Whenever possible recipes call for canola or olive oil - a liquid fat - even in desserts - instead of butter or margarine - to reduce the amount of saturated fat. "But there are certain foods - like cookies - that just taste better with butter - and in those cases - we use a combination of oil and butter.

"Other tricks include starting with healthy ingredients like yogurt, fortified cereals, whole grains (quinoa, bulgur wheat, for instance that can be cooked quickly), extra lean ground beef and nonfat milk. A couple of my favorite products are fat-free half-and half and fat-free sweetened condensed milk," says Olerud, adding that you can make a terrific fondue with chocolate and fat-free sweetened condensed milk melted together.

At the Betty Crocker Web site, www.eatbetteramerica.com, you'll find the company's healthier makeovers of recipes consumers submit.

"We don't make them clinically healthy, but try to keep the integrity of the cookie or cheesecake, for instance," adds Olerud. "People want things to taste good and be more healthy. Wherever we can, we use reduced fat products (Cheddar cheese, cream cheese, etc.) - and on some occasions fat-free products if they are mixed with other flavorful ingredients."

Portion control and watching the amount you eat is also important. About half of the plate should be vegetables, one fourth starch and one fourth meat, poultry or fish. Try to eat meatless once or twice a week at least and consume fish two or more times. Replace high-fat meats with lean cuts.

Being active daily is important, too, to maintain weight.

Get healthy, nutritious eating on your radar - for Easter and beyond. There are lots of delicious options.

natalie.haughton@dailynews.com

Natalie Haughton

818-713-3692

ORANGE-GLAZED CARROTS AND SUGAR SNAP PEAS

2 cups ready-to-eat baby-cut carrots

1 cup frozen sugar snap peas

2 tablespoons orange marmalade

1/4 teaspoon salt

Dash pepper

In a 2-quart saucepan, heat 1 cup water to boiling. Add carrots; return to boiling. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 8 to 10 minutes or until carrots are tender, adding sugar snap peas during last 5 minutes of cook time. Drain; return to saucepan.

Stir in marmalade, salt and pepper. Cook and stir over medium heat until marmalade is melted and vegetables are glazed. Makes 6 (1/2-cup) servings each with 50 calories, 0 grams fat, 130 milligrams sodium, 10 grams carbohydrate and 2 grams fiber.

From "Pillsbury Fast & Healthy Cookbook."

GOOEY CINNAMON ROLLS

FILLING:

1/4 cup dark brown sugar (not packed)

1/4 cup Splenda No Calorie Sweetener (granulated)

1/2 tablespoon light whipped butter OR light buttery spread, room temperature

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon salt

ICING:

1/4 cup Cool Whip Free, thawed

3 tablespoons fat-free cream cheese, room temperature

1 tablespoon Splenda No Calorie Sweetener (granulated)

DOUGH

1 package refrigerated Pillsbury Reduced Fat Crescent Rolls

16 sprays I Can't Believe It's Not Butter! spray

To make Filling, combine all filling ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring well to make sure butter gets mixed in evenly. Set aside.

To make Icing, combine all icing ingredients in a small bowl and mix until smooth and blended. Place in fridge to chill and set.

For Dough, prepare a dry surface by sprinkling it with a small amount of flour to prevent sticking. Remove dough from package and knead into a ball. Using a rolling pin dusted lightly with flour, very firmly roll out dough into a thin sheet about 8x12 inches. Spray dough surface evenly with butter spray.

Spread Filling out evenly over dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border around edges. Starting with a long side of dough, roll up tightly, forming a log. Once dough is completely rolled up, pinch long seam to seal. Turn log over so seam is facing down. Using a very sharp knife, cut log into 8 equal pieces, being careful not to squish dough.

Spray a baking pan with nonstick spray and arrange pieces of dough in pan with swirl sides facing up. Use your hands to firmly press down on the tops of the pieces. Pinch side seams to seal, if necessary. Cover pan with foil. Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven 8 minutes. Remove foil and return pan to oven. Bake an additional 5 minutes or until cinnamon rolls have risen and are slightly browned on top.

Evenly distribute icing over cinnamon rolls. Makes 8 servings, with each iced roll containing 126 calories, 5 grams fat, 308 milligrams sodium, 18.5 grams carbohydrate, 0.5 grams fiber and 3 grams protein.

From "Hungry Girl 200 Under 200," by Lisa Lillien.

MASCARPONE-FILLED FRESH STRAWBERRIES

1 quart large fresh strawberries

1 (8-ounce) container mascarpone cheese

3 tablespoons powdered sugar

1 teaspoon milk

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Sliced almonds

Trim tops and bottoms of strawberries to level. Using small melon baller, scoop out center of each strawberry.

In medium bowl, mix mascarpone cheese, powdered sugar, milk and almond extract until smooth. Spoon cheese mixture into small resealable plastic freezer bag or decorating bag fitted with star tip; seal bag. Cut small hole in bottom corner of plastic bag. Squeeze bag to pipe cheese mixture into strawberries; top with almonds. Makes 20 servings each with 60 calories, 4.5 grams fat, 5 milligrams sodium, 5 grams carbohydrate and 0 grams fiber.

From "Pillsbury Fast & Healthy Cookbook."

FRESH TOMATO-BASIL CAPRESE KABOBS

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves OR lemon basil leaves

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 pint (2 cups) red cherry tomatoes

1 pint (2 cups) yellow cherry tomatoes

2 medium zucchini OR yellow summer squash, cubed

1 pound fresh fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed

34 (6-inch) bamboo skewers

Fresh basil leaves, if desired

In a large bowl, using a wire whisk, mix oil, lemon juice, chopped basil, salt and pepper. Add tomatoes, zucchini and cheese. Cover and refrigerate 10 minutes.

Drain vegetables, reserving olive oil mixture. Thread skewers alternately with tomatoes, zucchini and cheese; top with a basil leaf. Serve kabobs with reserved olive oil mixture. Makes 34 kabobs, each with 60 calories, 4.5 grams fat, 90 milligrams sodium, 2 grams carbohydrate and 0 grams fiber.

From "Pillsbury Fast & Healthy Cookbook."

CRUSTLESS BANANA CREAM PIE

1/4 cup granulated white sugar

1/4 cup Splenda No Calorie Sweetener (granulated)

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups plain light soy milk

1 1/2 tablespoons light whipped butter OR light buttery spread

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 1/2 medium bananas

1 cup Cool Whip Free, thawed

In a medium saucepan, combine granulated sugar, Splenda, cornstarch and salt. Place saucepan over medium-high heat and slowly whisk in soy milk. Whisking constantly, bring mixture to a boil. Once boiling, continue to whisk and cook 4 minutes. Remove from heat, and add butter and vanilla. Stir until smooth. Allow custard mixture to cool 5 minutes.

Slice 2 bananas into circular slices about 1/4-inch thick. In a 9-inch pie dish, layer 1/2 of slices along bottom. Evenly cover with 1/2 of custard mixture.

Layer remaining banana slices on top of custard. Pour remaining custard mixture evenly over second banana layer. Allow to stand at room temperature about 10 minutes, until slightly cool. Refrigerate for least 2 hours.

Just before serving, spread top of pie with Cool Whip. Cut remaining 1/2 half banana into 8 circular slices and arrange around top of pie. Cut into 8 slices. Serve immediately. Makes 8 servings each with 115 calories, 1.5 grams fat, 123 millilgrams sodium, 23 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber and 1.5 grams protein.

From "Hungry Girl 200 Under 200," by Lisa Lillien.

CRAZY CALYPSO SALAD

DRESSING:

1/3 cup seasoned rice vinegar

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 no-calorie sweetener packet

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

SALAD:

8 cups fresh spinach leaves

8 ounces cooked medium shrimp

2 cups chopped mango (about 2 mangos)

1 cup cubed avocado (about 1 small avocado)

For Dressing, combine all dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Mix well and set aside.

For Salad, in a large serving bowl, combine all salad ingredients. Pour Dressing over salad. Toss until all ingredients are coated. Makes 5 servings with each 2 cups containing 174 calories, 5 grams fat, 429 milligrams sodium, 21.5 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams fibers and 12 grams protein.

From "Hungry Girl 200 Under 200," by Lisa Lillien.

THAT'S A LOTTA FRITTATA

1 1/2 cups fat-free liquid egg substitute

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon minced garlic

4 cups chopped arugula

1 cup chopped red bell pepper

1 cup chopped summer squash (zucchini OR yellow squash)

1/2 cup canned sweet corn, drained

1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat mozzarella cheese

Additional salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper (optional)

In a medium bowl, whisk together egg substitute and salt. Set aside.

Spray a large oven-safe pan with nonstick spray. Heat pan over medium heat; add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add arugula and cook and stir until wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove arugula mixture from pan and set aside.

Remove pan from heat and re-spray with nonstick spray. Return pan to medium heat. Place bell pepper and squash in pan. Cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add corn and continue to cook another 2 minutes. Return arugula to pan, stir and arrange the veggie mixture so that it evenly covers bottom of pan.

Pour egg mixture over veggies, and tilt pan back and forth to ensure egg substitute is evenly distributed. If needed, run a spatula along sides of the pan to help egg to flow underneath veggies. Cook 2 minutes, and then remove pan from heat. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese evenly on top of frittata. Place pan under preheated broiler 2 to 4 minutes, until egg starts to puff up and mixture is set.

Allow to cool, then cut into 4 slices. Season to taste with optional ingredients, if you like. Makes 4 servings, each containing 120 calories, 2.5 grams fat, 469 milligrams sodium, 9.5 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams fiber and 14.5 grams protein.

From "Hungry Girl 200 Under 200," by Lisa Lillien.

Tips on products

A few products Lisa Lillen favors using in her Hungry Girl guilt-free recipes.

Blue Diamond Almond Breeze, Unsweetened Vanilla - a non-dairy beverage made with real almonds, which has half the calories of fat-free milk and tastes better. Look for it in the boxed shelf-stable milk section or natural products aisle, not the refrigerated section.

Flavored soy milks - have a lot of flavor for the amount of calories and fat they contain. They taste better than regular fat-free milk.

La Tortilla Factory Smart & Delicious Low Carb/High Fiber Tortillas. Great for wraps, quesadillas, pizzas, tortilla chips.

The Laughing Cow Light Original Swiss Cheese wedges are great for cheese sauces, as a cream cheese swap, as a spread or to make any sauce creamier.

Cool Whip Free, a whipped topping for all kinds of drinks, desserts, etc.

Egg Beaters Original or Better'n Eggs fat-free liquid egg substitutes. Use in frittatas and baking to save fat and cholesterol.

Mann's Broccoli Cole Slaw is a favorite to use in salads and stir-fries or as a pasta swap topped with low-fat marinara or spaghetti sauce.

Canned pumpkin is used in baking because it is low in calories and fat and high in fiber.

- Natalie Haughton
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Title Annotation:L.A. Life
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Recipe
Date:Apr 8, 2009
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