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Start off the New Year with some good luck recipes

>New Year's Day (Sunday)

Start the New Year in a traditional good-luck way by making Hoppin' John (see recipe). Take no chances on your luck and add collard greens and cornbread (from a mix). Sweeten the deal with chocolate cake topped with strawberries.

Plan ahead: Save enough cornbread and strawberries for Monday and enough cake for Tuesday.

Shopping list: olive oil, onion, celery, garlic, dried thyme, canned black-eyed peas, canned no-salt-added petite diced tomatoes, canned diced green chilies, fat-free chicken broth, coarse salt, black pepper, vegetarian sausage or mild turkey sausage, brown rice, collard greens, cornbread mix, chocolate cake, strawberries.

>Budget Monday

Registered dietitian Liz Ward has plenty of family-friendly, economical recipes in her new book, "MyPlate for Moms," and chocolate chili is one of them (see recipe). Serve it with a spinach salad and leftover cornbread. Enjoy leftover strawberries for dessert.

Plan ahead: Save enough chili for Wednesday.

Shopping list: Cooking spray, ground sirloin or turkey breast, coarse salt, pepper, canola oil, garlic, onion, green or red bell pepper, canned reduced-sodium black beans, canned reduced-sodium red kidney beans, canned no-salt-added diced tomatoes, cumin, unsweetened cocoa, fresh spinach.

>Kids Tuesday

Chicken cutlets Italiano is just right for the kids. Dip chicken cutlets in a beaten egg, sprinkle with grated Parmesan, then coat with Italian bread crumbs before pan-frying in a little canola oil until cooked through. Serve them with oven fries, green peas and soft rolls.

Let the kids make Frogs on a Log for some crunch. Spread 1 rib of celery with reduced-fat cream cheese. Top with sliced pimento-stuffed green olives. Cut into 2-inch pieces. Leftover cake is just right for dessert.

Shopping list: Chicken cutlets, egg, Parmesan cheese, Italian bread crumbs, canola oil, oven fries, green peas, soft rolls, celery, reduced-fat cream cheese, pimento-stuffed green olives.

>Heat and eat Wednesday

One of the best things about leftover chili is the blended flavor a day or two after it's been cooked. Serve the chili over quick-cooking brown rice and top with diced avocado and reduced-fat sour cream. Add a lettuce wedge and whole-grain rolls. For dessert, plums are easy.

Shopping list: Quick-cooking brown rice, avocado, reduced-fat sour cream, lettuce, whole-grain rolls, plums.

>Meatless Thursday

This is the time of year when we need to lower our calories, and this recipe for rotini with cannellini beans and escarole comes to the rescue. Cook 8 ounces rotini according to directions; drain. Heat a large nonstick skillet on medium-high. Coat bottom of skillet with 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil. Add 8 thinly sliced cloves garlic and 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper; cook 45 seconds or until garlic begins to brown, stirring constantly. Add 1 (12-ounce) bag chopped escarole; cook 1 minute or until escarole begins to wilt. Add 3/4 cup vegetable broth; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium; cook 5 minutes or until escarole is tender and liquid nearly evaporates. Stir in pasta and 1 (15-ounce) can rinsed cannellini beans. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. (Adapted from Cooking Light magazine.)

Serve with mixed greens and Italian bread. Slice kiwifruit for dessert.

Tip: Each ounce of dry pasta is about 100 calories.

Shopping list: Rotini pasta, extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, crushed red pepper, bagged chopped escarole, vegetable broth, canned cannellini beans, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, salad greens, Italian bread, kiwifruit.

>Express Friday

Look for your favorite less-sodium canned soup for dinner. Serve the soup with deli egg salad on packaged salad greens. Sprinkle the egg salad with chopped fresh dill if desired. Add crackers on the side. Fresh pineapple is an easy dessert.

Shopping list: Less-sodium canned soup, deli egg salad, packaged salad greens, fresh dill if desired, crackers, fresh pineapple.

>Easy entertaining Saturday

Invite special friends for pesto chicken with sun-dried tomatoes (see recipe). Alongside, add your polenta, an arugula salad and garlic bread. Buy a cheesecake for dessert and top with any berries.

Shopping list: Butter, boneless skinless chicken breasts, onion, fat-free chicken broth, sun-dried tomatoes (not oil-packed), pesto, Parmesan cheese, walnuts, polenta, arugula, garlic bread, cheesecake, any berries.

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Makes 6 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 4 to 6 hours on low

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium chopped onion

1 rib chopped celery

3 cloves minced garlic

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 (15 1/2 -ounce) cans rinsed black-eyed peas

1 (14 1/2 -ounce) can no-salt-added drained petite diced tomatoes

1 (4-ounce) can drained diced green chilies

1 cup fat-free chicken broth

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

8 ounces vegetarian sausage or mild turkey sausage

3 cups cooked brown rice

In a large nonstick skillet on medium, heat oil. Add onion and celery and cook 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in garlic and thyme. Transfer to a 4-quart or larger slow cooker. Add the peas, tomatoes, chilies, broth and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook on low 4 to 6 hours.

About 15 minutes before serving, heat a large nonstick skillet on medium. Crumble and cook sausage 6 to 8 minutes or until no longer pink. Add to slow cooker, along with cooked rice, stirring to combine. Serve. (Adapted from "Fresh From the Vegetarian Slow Cooker," Robin Robertson; Harvard Common Press, $16.95.)

Per serving: 335 calories, 17g protein, 5g fat (14 percent calories from fat), 0.7g saturated fat, 54g carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 761mg sodium, 10g fiber.

** ** **


Makes 6 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 40 to 50 minutes

1 pound ground sirloin or turkey breast

Coarse salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon canola oil

4 cloves minced garlic

1 medium chopped onion

1 chopped medium green or red bell pepper

1 (15-ounce) can rinsed reduced-sodium black beans

1 (15-ounce) can rinsed reduced-sodium red kidney beans

1 (28-ounce) can no-salt-added, diced undrained tomatoes

1 teaspoon cumin

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

Coat a Dutch oven with cooking spray. Heat on medium-high; add sirloin or turkey. Cook 6 to 8 minutes or until no longer pink, breaking it into small pieces as it cooks. Remove meat; reserve. Season with salt and pepper. Return Dutch oven to stove. Add oil; heat on medium. Add garlic, onion and bell pepper; cook 10 minutes or until softened. Add reserved meat; stir in beans, tomatoes, cumin and cocoa. Heat to boiling; reduce heat to low and simmer 25 to 30 minutes. Add water as needed to thin chili. (Adapted from "MyPlate for Moms, How to Feed Yourself and Your Family Better," Elizabeth Ward; Laughlin Press, $15.95.)

Per serving: 286 calories, 26g protein, 7g fat (21 percent calories from fat), 1.7g saturated fat, 32g carbohydrate, 42mg cholesterol, 346mg sodium, 10g fiber.

** ** **


Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: About 20 minutes

1 tablespoon butter

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into bite-size pieces

1 medium halved, thinly sliced onion

1 cup fat-free chicken broth

1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not oil-packed)

2 tablespoons pesto

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup chopped, toasted walnuts

Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat. Add chicken and onion; cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until chicken and onions are golden brown. Add broth, sun-dried tomatoes and pesto; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 10 minutes or until sauce is slightly reduced and chicken is very tender. Sprinkle with cheese and walnuts; cover and cook 45 seconds or until cheese is melted.

Per serving: 338 calories, 31g protein, 21g fat (55 percent calories from fat), 4.9g saturated fat, 8g carbohydrate, 87mg cholesterol, 399mg sodium, 3g fiber.

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