I asked my hairdresser how to get men to eat better.
A new study of 50,000 men shows those with high-fat diets are twice as likely to develop prostate cancer as those who eat less fat. In fact, among those eating lots of fatty red meat, advancement to fatal stages was three times as great.
He said fortunately he's been eating vegetables and brown rice lately to keep his weight down. He's fortysomething and still interested in women, so he wants to look good.
He thinks most men are more receptive to the vanity approach than the fear tactic. low-fat eating and regular exercise help him slow the hands of time. If it also prevents cancer, that's a bonus.
Then he knocked my socks off by sharing his gift box of dried fruit. This was like nothing I'd ever seen before. Golden figs, sun-drenched apricots, pitted prunes and tree-ripened dates arranged in creative pairs, individually wrapped, then displayed in a candy box.
Nature's sweetest fat-free candy called irresistibly to everyone nearby. There was no holding back, no worrying about fat or calories. Sheer indulgence prevailed.
(Over prunes? I'm telling you, these were amazing.)
So it occurred to me as I sat there getting clipped, that the cooks in men's lives could help a lot by offering low-fat foods so enticing no one notices their nutritional content.
Many lower-fat foods are dry, bland or tasteless, so they need a lot of help. Lean cuts of mean overcook in a twinkling. Undressed waffles are totally boring. And winter fruit lacks the variety and succulence of summer's juicy treats.
But a warm, inviting compote of dried fruit simmered with cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves beckons with all the spicy seduction of high-fat treats, without the fattening of cancer-inducing consequences.
At breakfast, you can serve the warm fruit over waffles spread with low-fat ricotta cheese instead of butter and syrup. At lunch, mix chilled leftover compote into nonfat yogurt.
At dinner, ditch the gravy and ladle steaming spoonfuls of hot, spicy fruit over small portions of lean leftover meats like trimmed ham, pork tenderloin, beef round or sliced chicken and turkey.
The compote stands along as a delicious and sweet-tooth-satisfying dessert similar in flavor to mincemeat pie, but with none of the fat.
What a delicious way to keep your weight down, satisfaction up and diseases at bay!
The dried fruits are fat-free and high in complex carbohydrates. They offer good amounts of fiber and potassium, along with some calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and copper.
Spicy Fruit Compote
Begin with a box of mixed dried fruit or mix and match your own. Combine figs, prunes, apricots, dark raisins (sweet), light raisins (tart), apples, peaches and pears.
Place fruit in a deep saucepan and over with cold with water. Let stand overnight. Or cover with boiling water and stand two hours.
Just before serving, season with one teaspoon cinnamon, one-half teaspoon nutmeg and one-fourth teaspoon cloves, or more to taste. If desired, add one-half cup coarsely broken walnuts (adds 38 grams of fat, mostly poly- and mono-saturated) and strips of lemon zest.
Bring to a boil, then simmer gently for about 5 minutes. Serve warm or cold, and enjoy.
For a free catalog describing those amazing dried fruit gifts, contact: Comparte's of California, 925 Montana Ave., Santa Monica, Calif., 90403; (310) 395-2297.
Colleen Pierre, a registered dietitian, is the nutrition consultant to the Union Memorial Sports Medicine Center and Vanderhorst & Associates in Baltimore.