We all know we should be following those new U.S. Department of Agriculture nutrition guidelines and eating more foods from the foundation of the new food pyramid, the complex carbohydrates. But if you've never cooked a lot with pasta, grains and legumes, it can be a little daunting getting started. Help comes from the latest in the "New Choices" cookbook series from Betty Crocker, with "New Choices for Pasta, Grains and Beans" (Macmillan, $18). The book has nutrition information, tips and more than 120 recipes from Lemony Seafood Risotto to Southwestern Beef and Bean Stew. Here's a sample recipe; with leftover rice, it would be a perfect light dish for a hot summer night:
Tropical Fruit, Rice and Tuna Salad
1 1/2 cups cold cooked brown or white rice
1/2 cup vanilla low-fat yogurt
1 can (8 ounces) pineapple tidbits in juice, drained, and 1 teaspoon juice reserved
2 kiwi fruit, peeled and sliced
1 medium mango, peeled and chopped (about 1 cup)
1 can (6 1/8 ounces) white tuna in water, drained and flaked
1 tablespoon coconut, toasted
Mix rice, yogurt and reserved pineapple juice in medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours to blend flavors. Cut kiwi fruit slices into fourths. gently stir kiwi, pineapple, mango and tuna into rice mixture. Sprinkle with coconut.
Nutrition information: 240 calories (20 calories from fat), 2 grams of fat (1 gram saturated), 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 170 milligrams of sodium.
Cook-off for crabsters
Calling all crab-loving cooks: Got a great recipe for Maryland's favorite crustacean? Enter it in the National Hard Crab Derby & Fair's 31st annual Crab Cooking Contest. A cook-off will be held Sept. 1 in Crisfield, Somerset County. There are three categories: hot dish, cold dish and crab cake; all recipes submitted must have Maryland blue crab as the featured ingredient. Call or write Mrs. Charlotte Daugherty, Co-Chair, Cooking Contest, 5412 Frances Road, Crisfield, Md. 21817. (410) 968-1394. The Labor Day weekend crab fair also features crab races, a crab feast, a crab-picking contest, a fishing contest and parades.
Cold, clean and covered
In the wake of recent heat waves that buckled bridges and endangered people and animals from the Midwest to East Coast, the USDA's Children's Nutrition research Center at Baylor University in Houston, Texas, has some timely advice about preventing food-borne illness. There are three rules: Keep it clean, keep it cold, and keep it covered.
Hands and work area should be scrubbed with warm soapy water. Foods should be refrigerated soon after preparation and re-refrigerated after serving. Use an insulated cooler or ice chest to transport food and keep the cooler in the shade at a picnic site. Cover food with plastic wrap to prevent contamination from animals or insects. If someone becomes ill, provide lots of fluids to prevent dehydration.