Top 10 synergy foods

December 9, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
There are certain dynamic food combinations that can help your family fight heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes. Registered dietician Elaine Magee is the author of "Food Synergy" and explains how the top synergy foods can keep us healthy.

Elaine's Synergy Standouts:
Oats + Vitamin C
Broccoli + Tomatoes
Cooked Tomatoes + Olive Oil
Fish + Olive Oil
Dark Green Veggies + Almonds

Elaine's Top Ten Synergy Foods:

  1. Switch to whole grains everywhere you can!
  2. Become voracious for veggies, particularly dark green veggies
  3. A handful of nuts every day
  4. Drink tea (especially green tea)
  5. Become an olive oil aficionado
  6. Eat fish several times a week
  7. Tune in to tomatoes
  8. Seek out citrus
  9. A spoonful of ground flaxseed
  10. Loving low-fat dairy
Recipe: Baked Butternut Macaroni
(With 2/3 less fat and 2/3 less saturated fat and 3/4 less cholesterol!)

Food Synergy Notes: Two kinds of squash, butternut and acorn, provide an assortment of carotenes and vitamins, many of which offer synergy together. Each serving also contributes some low-fat dairy and about 2 whole grain servings.

Original recipe contains around 790 calories, 34 grams fat, 19 grams saturated fat, and 94 milligrams cholesterol per serving.

Makes 6 servings

1 medium butternut squash, halved lengthwise and seeded (or 1 pound frozen butternut cubes)
1 medium acorn squash (1 1/2-pounds), halved lengthwise and seeded
2 teaspoons olive oil
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Salt to taste (optional)
1 cup fat free half and half (whole milk can also be used)
Freshly ground nutmeg
8 cups cooked whole grain blend macaroni or penne pasta
2/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons whipped butter
1/4 cup plain or seasoned dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup ground gingersnap cookies

1. Place butternut squash halves, cut-size down on microwaveable baking dish or plate and microwave on high power for 8 minutes, or until tender. If using frozen butternut squash, place in microwaveable dish and microwave for 4 minutes, or until tender. Then place the acorn squash cut-side down on a microwaveable baking dish or plate and microwave for 8 minutes, or until tender.

2. Preheat the oven broiler. Coat a foil-lined jelly-roll pan and a 9" x 9" baking dish with canola cooking spray.

3. Cut the squash flesh into cubes, discarding the skins. Add the cubes to a large bowl and drizzle with the oil. Spread on the prepared jelly-roll pan, season with the pepper and salt (if desired) to taste, and broil for 3 to 4 minutes, or until lightly browned in some areas. Reduce the oven temperature to 350-degrees F.

4. In a food processor, combine the squash and half-and-half or milk and process until smooth. Add the nutmeg and pulse briefly to blend well. Pour into a large bowl and stir in the pasta and Parmesan. Pour into the prepared baking dish. Dot with the ricotta.

5. Add the butter to a small nonstick saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until nicely brown (it will smell like caramel). Add the breadcrumbs and cookies and stir to combine. Sprinkle the cookie mixture evenly over the pasta mixture. Bake for 30 minutes, or until heated through.

Per serving: 428 calories, 18 g protein, 74 g carbohydrate, 9 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 4 g monounsaturated fat, 1 g polyunsaturated fat, 17 mg cholesterol, 8 g fiber, 266 mg sodium. Omega-3 fatty acids = .2 g, Omega-6 fatty acids = .8 g.

% Daily value for:
Vitamin A = 63%
Vitamin C = 17%
Vitamin E = 6%
Vitamin B1 = 38%
Vitamin B2 = 20%
Vitamin B3 = 20%
Vitamin B6 = 28%
Vitamin B12 = 7%
Folate = 12%
Calcium = 24%

About Elaine Magee:
Elaine Magee is positively passionate about changing the way America eats-one recipe at a time! Her national column, THE RECIPE DOCTOR, appears in newspapers and magazines across the U.S. Elaine is the author of more than 25 books on nutrition and healthy cooking, with her most recent book being FOOD SYNERGY (Rodale, March 2008). Elaine's medical nutrition series includes TELL ME WHAT TO EAT IF I HAVE DIABETES, TELL ME WHAT TO EAT IF I HAVE IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME, TELL ME WHAT TO EAT IF I HAVE ACID REFLUX (and four other titles). Hundreds of thousands of these books have been sold, and they are now being distributed all over the world, including China, Russia, Spain, Indonesia, and Arabic countries. New editions of these three books in the series will be released October-December 2008.

Elaine is a nutrition expert/writer for WEBMD.com, SilverPlanet.com, and magazines across the country, and she appears frequently on radio, educational videos, and television shows. She obtained her master's degree in public health nutrition from UC-Berkeley and is a registered dietitian. On Elaine's website: www.recipedoctor.com, you can sign up for her FREE recipe doctor club (and view a 3-year archive of her favorite recipe makeovers), check out her latest blogs on WEBMD.com and SilverPlanet.com and watch her latest videos and television appearances.


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