Embrace Nutrition Month with a healthy diet

One fork at a time: The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is encouraging people to make small changes for a healthy diet.

By Donna Zitter Bordelon

“Put your Best Fork Forward” is the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics theme for 2017 nutrition. The slogan encourages us to make small changes for a healthy diet, one forkful at a time. The challenge is to try a variety of nutritious foods from various food groups to promote healthy choices.

Nutrients and calories both count in eating healthy, and you usually can’t go wrong in choosing something that comes from the ocean. Certainly, salmon has a reputation for being a nutritious fatty fish. But another fatty-fish, the sardine, contains Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, which are excellent vitamin/nutrient-rich choices, good for your heart and for your mood. As an alternative healthy food from under the sea, clams are low-fat, high-protein and are among the best sources of the B vitamins and zinc. Pair either of these nautical nibbles with pasta, and you’ve got dinner.

Add zing to many dishes with capers, a flavor booster. Capers are low in calories, and contain many phytonutrients, antioxidants and vitamins. And they store well in the refrigerator.

The following recipes are quick and easy to make. With a few ingredients and some canned clams, sardines and capers, you can have dinner on the table in no time. A reserve of canned clams, sardines and capers as pantry staples make it easy to prepare an inexpensive meal ready whenever you really don’t feel like doing much cooking but want something good to eat.

Try this Sicilian dish that we call Pasta and Sardines with Breadcrumbs.

PASTA CON LE SARDE e MOLLICA

1 lb. spaghetti

Breadcrumbs:

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2 cup bread crumbs, made from stale crusty bread

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 Tbsp. capers, drained

1 tsp. crushed red pepper

1/2 lemon, juiced

Zest from the ½ lemon

1/2 cup fresh parsley, minced

2 cans sardines, packed in oil or water, drained

(Debone, if you choose.)

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of water to boil; salt, and cook pasta until al dente according to package directions. Drain and save 1 cup of pasta water.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil on medium heat, then add the breadcrumbs. Stir frequently until golden brown (3–4 minutes). Remove crumbs and set aside.

In the same skillet, on medium-low heat, add 2 tablespoons of oil and saute the onions for a few minutes until soft.

Add the garlic, capers, crushed pepper, zest, lemon juice, parsley and sardines. Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally until heated completely, about 2 minutes.

Add the spaghetti and the reserved cup of pasta water to the sardine mixture and toss.

Turn spaghetti into a large serving bowl. Add half of the bread crumbs and the Parmesan. Toss well to combine.

Sprinkle the remainder of the breadcrumbs on top.

Serve with extra Parmesan.

This recipe is an old family favorite.

SPAGHETTI AND CLAMS

1 lb. spaghetti

¼ cup olive oil

4 Tbsp. butter

8 garlic cloves, minced

3 cans chopped clams (6.5 oz. each)

1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper

1/2 cup parsley, chopped

1 lemon, juiced

2/3 cup white wine

3/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook pasta al dente, according to package directions.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil and butter.

Add the garlic and saute on medium 1–2 minutes.

Add the clam juice (reserve the clams to add later), red pepper, parsley and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, then turn down heat and add the wine and reserved clams. Cook and stir for 2–3 minutes, until clams are cooked.

Add the Parmesan cheese and mix.

Place spaghetti in a large serving bowl and pour on the clam mixture.

Serve with extra Parmesan.

Eat well, live long, enjoy!

(Ques­tions or tips can be sent to Donna Zit­ter Bor­de­lon at Whats-cook-inNEPhilly@gmail.com or in care of the Times, 2 Executive Campus, Suite 400, Cherry Hill, NJ 08002)