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The Spice Is Right: Healthy Recipes That Turn Up the Heat

  • Andy Lyons

    Hearty Beef Chili

    Makes 8 to 10 servings


    1 1/2 pounds beef chuck roast, cut into 1-inch cubes

    2 cups low-sodium vegetable juice or tomato juice

    2 large onions, chopped

    2 15-ounce cans black beans, red kidney beans, or chickpeas, or a combination, rinsed and drained

    1 14-1/2-ounce can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained

    2 medium green bell peppers, chopped

    1 10-ounce can diced tomatoes and green chili peppers, undrained

    3 garlic cloves, minced

    1 teaspoon ground chipotle chili pepper

    1 teaspoon ground cumin

    1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed

    Make It

    Combine all ingredients in a 4-1/2- to 6-quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on low heat 9 to 10 hours or on high heat 4 1/2 to 5 hours.

    Nutrition facts per serving:
    226 calories, 26g protein, 27g carbohydrate, 4g fat (1g saturated), 8g fiber

  • Blaine Moats

    Thai Pork Stir-Fry

    Makes 6 servings


    2 tablespoons olive oil

    1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce

    1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

    1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger or 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

    1/2 teaspoon black pepper

    1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

    1/2 teaspoon chili powder

    1 1/2 pounds lean boneless pork, cut into bite-size strips

    2 cups broccoli florets

    1 cup thinly sliced carrots (2 medium)

    1 cup cauliflower florets

    2 tablespoons white vinegar

    1 tablespoon curry powder

    2 cups hot cooked brown rice

    Make It

    1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, stir together oil, soy sauce, garlic powder, ginger, pepper, cardamom, and chili powder.

    2. Add half the pork; cook, stirring frequently, 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove meat from skillet. Repeat with remaining pork.

    3. Return all meat to pan. Add broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, vinegar and curry powder. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and cover. Simmer 3 to 5 minutes, or until
    vegetables are crisp-tender, stirring occasionally. Serve over rice.

    Nutrition facts per serving:
    301 calories, 28g protein, 21g carbohydrate, 11g fat
    (3g saturated), 3g fiber

  • Andy Lyons

    Adobo Pork Chops

    Makes 6 servings


    6 3/4-inch-thick boneless pork loin chops (1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pounds total)

    2 tablespoons packed brown sugar

    2 tablespoons olive oil

    2 tablespoons orange juice

    2 tablespoons snipped fresh cilantro

    1 tablespoon red-wine or cider vinegar

    2 teaspoons chili powder

    1 teaspoon ground cumin

    1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed

    1/2 teaspoon salt

    1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

    3 garlic cloves, minced

    Cooking spray

    Make It

    1. Trim fat and place chops in a resealable plastic bag set in a shallow dish.

    2. In a small bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients. Pour marinade into bag over chops, seal bag, and turn to coat chops.

    3. Place bag in refrigerator at least 2 hours, turning occasionally. Discard marinade.

    4. Lightly coat a grill pan with cooking spray. Cook chops over medium heat 12 to 15 minutes, or until juices run clear, turning once.

    Nutrition facts per serving:
    189 calories, 25g protein, 3g carbohydrate, 7g fat (2g saturated), 0g fiber

  • Mark Thomas

    Moroccan Chicken Stew

    Makes 4 servings


    1 cup quick-cooking couscous

    1 tablespoon olive oil

    12 ounces skinless, boneless chicken thighs or breast halves, cut into 1-inch pieces

    1/3 cup sliced shallots

    3 garlic cloves, minced

    1/2 teaspoon salt

    1/2 teaspoon paprika

    1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

    1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

    1/4 teaspoon ground saffron or ground turmeric

    1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

    6 ounces baby pattypan squash or
    1 1/2 cups sliced zucchini

    1 cup slender baby carrots, tops trimmed

    1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth

    1/4 cup golden or dark raisins

    Fresh mint (optional)

    Make It

    1. Cook couscous according to package directions, omitting oil and salt; keep warm.

    2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken, shallots and garlic to pan. Cook 2 minutes, stirring.

    3. In a bowl, combine salt and all spices; sprinkle evenly over chicken. Cook, stirring, 2 minutes more, or until chicken is cooked.

    4. Cut any large pieces of squash in half; add to skillet along with carrots, broth, and raisins. Bring to a boil; cover. Simmer 6 to 8 minutes, or until vegetables are crisp-tender.

    5. Serve stew over couscous. Garnish with fresh mint, if desired.

    Nutrition facts per serving:
    363 calories, 24g protein, 51g carbohydrate, 7g fat (1g saturated), 9g fiber

  • Mark Thomas

    Cilantro Chicken with Peanuts

    Makes 2 servings


    8 ounces skinless, boneless chicken-breast halves, cut into 1-inch strips

    1 teaspoon cooking oil

    2 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce

    1 teaspoon rice vinegar

    1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

    1/4 teaspoon crushed dried red chili pepper

    3/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves

    2 cups Chinese cabbage, finely shredded

    2 tablespoons dry-roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

    Make It

    1. In a medium nonstick skillet, cook chicken in oil over medium-high heat 3 to 4 minutes, or until chicken is tender and no longer pink.

    2. Add soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and crushed chili pepper. Cook and stir 1 minute more.

    3. Remove from heat. Stir in cilantro.

    4. To serve, spoon chicken mixture over Chinese cabbage and sprinkle with chopped peanuts.

    Nutrition facts per serving:
    231 calories, 30g protein, 6g carbohydrate, 10g fat (2g saturated), 4g fiber

  • Jason Donnelly

    Ginger Chicken with Rice Noodles

    Makes 2 servings

    2 tablespoons very finely chopped scallion
    1 1/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
    3 garlic cloves, minced
    3 teaspoons olive oil
    1/8 teaspoon salt
    2 skinless, boneless chicken-breast halves (about 10 ounces total)
    2 ounces uncooked rice noodles
    1/2 cup chopped carrot
    1/2 teaspoon finely shredded lime peel
    1 tablespoon lime juice
    1/2 tablespoons snipped fresh cilantro
    2 tablespoons peanuts, coarsely chopped

    Make It
    1. In a small bowl, combine scallion, ginger, garlic, 1 teaspoon oil, and salt. Rub over chicken. Place chicken on the rack of an unheated broiler pan. Broil 4 to 5 inches from the heat 12 to 15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked, turning once. Thinly slice diagonally; set aside.
    2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, cook rice noodles and carrot in boiling water 3 to 4 minutes, or until noodles are tender; drain. Rinse with cold water; drain again. Use kitchen scissors to snip noodles into short lengths.
    3. In a medium bowl, stir together lime peel, lime juice, and remaining oil. Add noodle mixture and cilantro; toss to coat.
    4. Divide noodles between two bowls; top with chicken slices and sprinkle with peanuts.

    Nutrition facts per serving:
    396 calories, 37g protein, 32g carbohydrate, 13g fat (2g saturated), 3g fiber

  • Blaine Moats

    Indian Beef Patties with Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce

    Makes 2 servings

    1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
    1/3 cup chopped, seeded cucumber
    1/4 cup finely chopped onion
    2 tablespoons finely chopped, seeded fresh jalapeno pepper
    1 tablespoon snipped fresh mint
    1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    1 garlic clove, minced
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    8 ounces lean ground beef
    Cooking spray
    Indian flatbread (optional)

    Make It
    1. In a small bowl, stir together yogurt and cucumber. Cover and place in refrigerator.
    2. In a medium bowl, combine onion, jalapeno, mint, cumin, garlic, and salt. Add ground beef; mix well. Form meat mixture into two 3/4-inch-thick patties.
    3. Lightly coat a grill pan with cooking spray. Place patties in pan over medium heat. Cook 14 to 18 minutes, or until done, turning once.
    4. If desired, serve the patties on flatbread; top with yogurt sauce.

    Nutrition facts per serving:
    241 calories, 24g protein, 8g carbohydrate, 12g fat (5g saturated), 1g fiber

  • Oliver Leedham/Alamy

    Seasoning Savvy

    Are whole spices better than ground ones?

    Whole spices generally have more flavor, so buy them and grind them yourself whenever possible, says Dave Grotto, RD, a FITNESS advisory board member and author of 101 Foods That Could Save Your Life. However, when it comes to your health, whole and ground spices are equally good for you. The antioxidants in them are retained during the grinding process.

    What's the best way to store spices?

    Heat, air, and light can cause spices to lose their flavor, so keep them in tightly closed containers in a cool, dry place.

    How long should I keep spices?

    They start to lose their flavor and health benefits after three months. Toss them after six.

    Originally published in FITNESS magazine, March 2009.