To demonstrate that presentation is important when you’re promoting healthier foods, cardiologist and cookbook author Richard Collins prepared a soy burger and disguised it in a Burger King wrapper. When he let people taste it, they thought it was an ordinary Burger King hamburger.
Collins thinks people choose their food by association. With a good visual presentation, people can be fooled into thinking that even low-fat, low-sugar foods are the "real" thing.
When it comes to cooking, Collins says, "Don’t give up the food you love. Just prepare it in a new, heart-healthy way."
Preparation methods are at the heart of Collins’ healthy cooking suggestions. He follows the suggestions of the French, who have low rates of heart disease. French cooks usually poach, bake, broil and steam food, while Americans generally use more aggressive cooking techniques, such as frying, grilling and sautéing in oil. He says Americans use too much oil for cooking while Europeans just use a little oil for flavoring.
Collins suggests a number of alternatives to using oil, including using herbs and spices to turn up the flavor. For sautéing, he suggests lowering the fat by using beer, wine, juice or water instead of oil. Baking, microwaving, stir-frying and boiling are other good, low-fat ways to cook.
Collins also advises cooking with healthy foods, such as soy products, which are said to lower the risk of stroke and heart disease. The recipes feature soybeans, soy milk and tofu. He suggests using vegetables instead of chicken to make a basic soup stock that is healthy and tastes great.
Collins provides more than 350 recipes for appetizers and beverages, breakfast and brunch dishes, sandwiches and soups, main dishes, salads, side dishes and desserts.
Almost all of the recipes use substitutes for high-fat, high-protein ingredients. Chicken broth is replaced by vegetable broth; egg substitute is always used instead of real egg; plain yogurt, tofu and lots of fat-free products are seen in almost every recipe.
Useful information also includes a list of plant protein substitutions, tricks for converting favorite recipes to healthy dishes, and a nutritional analysis that accompanies each recipe to indicate the calories, fat, cholesterol, carbohydrates, protein and sodium in each serving.
The cookbook overcomes misconceptions that healthy eating is bland, expensive and time-consuming. With so many delicious recipes, I can’t find an excuse to reject healthy foods anymore! — Yu-Ru Lee
Faster foods alert: Oscar Mayer now makes instant breakfast kits, with pancakes and waffles that can be eaten cold, presumably for those who don’t have time to toast an Eggo. … Half hot dog, half pizza, the new 7-Eleven Bakery Stix — filled with various combinations of meat and cheese — are meant to be scarfed down in the car. … Pike Street Restaurant (18 W. Pike, Pontiac) is holding a "Shoreman’s Supper" on Thursday, August 5. The seafood extravaganza is $65 per person, call 248-334-7878 for reservations.