No matter what the season, you can never have too many healthy, easy-to-prepare vegetable dishes. In summer, when local gardens and farmers' markets have produce aplenty, you can establish a broad repertoire of recipes drawing from the many fruits and vegetables in season. August's fare is particularly delicious and abundant. This is the time of year when, left to its own devices, zucchini can become large as a baseball bat. If you grow zucchini in your garden, you'll need a variety of recipes to use up the supply.
Zucchini and bell peppers are particularly versatile. Both are low in calories and have flavors that blend well with everything. Select small zucchini, which tends to be younger and more tender than the bigger ones. It can be prepared in many different ways: sauteed, steamed, grilled, or stuffed and baked. Its blandness makes it a perfect foil for other flavors, and its sturdy texture makes it a good base for a soup or a stew. In this recipe, the zucchini is sauteed for a mere 2 to 3 minutes, to maintain both flavor and innate crispness.
Bell peppers, available in most grocery stores in what we tend to think of as the standard green, are also available now in yellow, red, orange and even purple. In fact, most sweet peppers start life as green and change colors as they mature. Red is the sweetest of the bells and is actually a fully ripened green pepper with a milder flavor. Sweet peppers are an excellent source of vitamins A and C as well as the mineral potassium. The peppers add color and crispness to this recipe, which ends up being a beautiful medley of red, orange, green and yellow. It brightens any plate, whether you choose to serve it with other vegetables or a small portion of poultry or fish. Keep in mind that the New American Plate model, advocated by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), features scaling back the proportion of meat to one-third of the plate or less, so you can have room for a whole grain mixture and another vegetable dish to fill out your meal.
Fresh corn kernels, lightly sauteed, add to the interesting texture of the dish, topped off with toasted almonds. Nuts contain healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats, vitamin E, protein, magnesium, potassium and dietary fiber. The trick is to use them in moderation because they are high in calories. The good news is that a mere two tablespoons of lightly toasted almonds add just the right amount of satisfying crunch to the overall dish.
Heat 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil in a non-stick skillet. Add peppers, zucchini and corn and saute over high heat for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and place in serving bowl.
In a separate small bowl, whisk together remaining oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Pour over vegetables and gently toss. Serve garnished with almonds.
Makes 4 servings.
Per serving: 80 calories, 5 g. total fat (<1 g. saturated fat), 8 g. carbohydrate, 2 g. protein, less than 2 g. dietary fiber, 8 mg. sodium.
About The Author: The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on diet and cancer and educates the public about the results. It has contributed more than $82 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. Its award-winning New American Plate program is presented in brochures, seminars and on it's Web site, http://www.aicr.org". AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International.
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