Picnic Ideas: Healthy Recipes & Tips (cont.)

Prep: 30 minutes; bake: 10 minutes per batch (pita chips); chill: 2 to 24 hours.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
12 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 19-ounce can cannellini beans (white kidney beans), rinsed and drained
1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 recipe Whole-Wheat Pita Chips or 8 cups assorted vegetable dippers (such as carrot sticks, celery sticks, and/or red bell pepper strips)

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add thinly sliced garlic; cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until garlic is tender and golden brown (reduce heat to medium-low if garlic is browning too quickly). Stir in onion and thyme. Cook and stir about 5 minutes more or until onion is tender.

In a food processor combine cooked onion mixture, cannellini beans, artichoke hearts, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper. Cover and process until smooth. Cover and chill for 2 to 24 hours.

Serve with Whole-Wheat Pita Chips or vegetable dippers.

Whole-Wheat Pita Chips: Preheat oven to 350°F. Split 4 large whole-wheat pita bread rounds in half horizontally. Cut each half into six wedges. Arrange pita wedges in a single layer on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until wedges are browned and crisp. (Bake the wedges in batches.) Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week. Makes 48 chips.

Yield: 16 servings.

Per serving (2 tablespoons dip and 3 pita wedges): 91 cal., 2 g total fat (0 g sat. fat), 0 mg chol., 220 mg sodium, 16 g carbo., 4 g fiber, 4 g pro.

Mozzarella with Herbs

Hailing from Italy, mild-flavor mozzarella is perfectly complemented by this assortment of herbs and spices.

Prep: 15 minutes. Stand: 30 minutes. Chill: 2 to 4 hours.

8 ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese, cut into bite-size pieces (2 cups)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

In a medium bowl, combine mozzarella cheese, olive oil, basil, oregano, and parsley. Cover and chill for 2 to 4 hours. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving. Season to taste with kosher salt and pepper.

Yield: 8 servings

Per serving: 103 cal., 8 g total fat (3 g sat. fat), 18 mg chol., 206 mg sodium, 1 g carbo., 0 g fiber, 7 g pro.

Here are a couple of variations for this dish:

Tomato-Mozzarella Salad: Prepare as directed, except add 4 cups roma tomato wedges and 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar. Serve on a bed of 6 cups fresh spinach.

Yield: 6 servings.

Per serving: 169 cal., 11 g fat (5 g sat. fat), 24 mg chol., 304 mg sodium, 8 g carbo., 2 g fiber, 11 g pro.

Spicy Monterey Jack Cheese with Herbs: Prepare as directed, except substitute reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese for the mozzarella cheese and add 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper.

Yield: 8 servings.

Per serving: 111 cal., 9 g fat (4 g sat. fat), 20 mg chol., 271 mg sodium, 1 g carbo., 0 g fiber, 7 g pro.

Recipes reprinted from The Sonoma Diet Cookbook (Meredith Books), 2006, by Connie Guttersen. Republished with permission from the author.

Published July 27, 2007.

SOURCES: Kerry Neville, MS, RD, American Dietetic Association spokesperson. Connie Guttersen, RD, PhD, culinary professional; author, The Sonoma Diet and The Sonoma Diet Cookbook. Ellie Krieger, MS, RD, host of Food Network's Healthy Appetite.

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Last Editorial Review: 7/31/2007