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Making your dishes both healthy, scrumptious

January 17, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
When you think of health food, a chicken breast and salad may come to mind. And while there is nothing wrong with either of those foods, eating healthy doesn't have to be bland or boring."Eating healthy is not about deprivation. It's about celebrating these wonderful foods that we have. What I'm trying to do is empower people to be healthy by cooking," said Martha Rose Shulman, author of "The Very Best of Recipes for Health" cookbook.

She's not a food scientist or dietitian, yet Shulman has been cooking up health recipes for well over 30 years with 27 cookbooks to her credit and now a recipe column for the New York Times online health page. Among Shulman's many recipes are her buckwheat buttermilk blueberry pancakes that take about three minutes to make.

While popular pancakes are a good place to start, she makes a greens gratin weekly, which is a hit with her teenage son and is also nice for entertaining.

"You can serve it cold or hot and for a party, when it's cool you can cut it into little diamonds, it makes great finger food," said Shulman.

Blanche a prewashed bag hearty greens, chop and then mix them with eggs, a little bit of cheese and milk and cooked onion and garlic. Then bake until the edges bubble and you've got sort of a crust-less quiche. Shulman says it can be mixed with rice or another grain as well if desired.

So if you're going to start being a health cook, you need to arm yourself with the right ingredients. So Shulman says you need to have a well stocked pantry.

"Make sure you have things to put with other things," said Shulman. "Make sure you have olive oil and garlic and onions on hand. Make sure you have canned tomatoes so you can make a tomato sauce."

Pasta, dried beans, eggs and a chunk of good cheese are other items you should have in your kitchen.

"You don't have to eat a lot of really good cheeses. Parmesan has so much depth of flavor that a little bit on your pasta is going to make all the difference in the world," said Shulman.

By making your own salad dressing or vinaigrette, which only takes a mere two minutes, can help you cut down on salt and increase flavor for your greens.