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Super snacks; Some healthful munchies to toss together for the big game

THE BALTIMORE SUN

The first big party of the new year is about to kick off this weekend. And once again Super Bowl Sunday promises to be a blowout -- at least when it comes to food and drink.

Sure, there's football being played. But somewhere between the first down and the final toss, the center of attention passes to the buffet table.

But the groaning board doesn't have to pack a caloric wallop. Columbia cookbook author Ruth Glick -- also known for her romance novels -- has put together "The Diabetes Snack, Munch, Nibble, Nosh Book" (American Diabetes Association, 1998), which features more than 150 low-calorie recipes.

While the soft-cover book was written with diabetics in mind, the healthful munchies are for everyone. During the big game, the assorted snacks promise to satisfy the party-goers' desire to graze while watching yard lines and waistlines.

"People love to snack," says Lee M. Romano, book-promotions manager for the American Diabetes Association. "This book provides a wide variety of tasty treats that are nutritious, easy-to-prepare and satisfying for people with or without diabetes."

According to Romano, the organization sought out Glick after reviewing two of her other books, "Skinny Italian Cooking" (Surrey, 1996), which she co-wrote with local food writer Nancy Baggett, and "Skinny One-Pot Meals" (Surrey, 1997).

"After looking at her books, we wanted her to do it," Romano says.

While there are no diabetics in her family, Glick, 56, who has written nine other cookbooks, always wanted to focus on low-fat snacks, she said. When the ADA approached her to do a book, she was ready.

The affable mother of two adult children and grandmother of a 9-month-old boy said writing the snack book involved the same kind of reduced-fat cooking she has been doing for her family for years.

"My quest is, 'Can I make it faster, easier?' I try a bunch of things and see what works best," says Glick, who worked with a registered dietitian to determine the recipes' nutritional analyses. "It's all stuff I like. It's what I snack on."

On a recent afternoon, Glick showed off the bright, spacious kitchen where she tests most of her recipes. She designed the expanded galley kitchen with honey maple cabinets, a blue-tiled center island and two of every appliance, except for the dishwasher, in the mocha-colored town house, where she and her husband, Norman Glick, have lived for 25 years.

The comfortable room -- with stacks of plates, measuring cups and bowls arranged on easy-to-reach shelves -- overlooks a wintry garden in the front of the house, where Glick feeds a squadron of squirrels. In the connecting dining room, a ceramic pig -- a whimsical gift from a book agent -- holds court with the apropos missive, "Eat!"

Glick, who has no formal culinary training, learned to cook simply because she liked it, she says. After she and her husband were married in 1963, she set out to prepare a different dinner every night and kept the momentum going for 40 days with only one setback -- a forgettable deviled shrimp.

She laughs now about how she tried to double up on the black pepper in place of the called-for cayenne in the recipe. "It was my only disaster," she says.

Glick -- who loves to entertain -- also has another life.

Under the name Rebecca York, she has written more than 60 romantic suspense novels and recently was nominated by Romantic Times magazine as storyteller of the year.

She currently is at work on her latest fiction, "Midnight Caller," due to be published this spring. And another cookbook, "Simply Italian" (Surrey, 1999), just hit the shelves.

Glick, who has dyslexia, once was afraid to write, she says. But a seminar she took at Howard Community College in the 1970s gave her the courage to try. The prolific author, who has a master's degree in American studies from the University of Maryland, College Park, has come a long way since she "cried a lot" writing her first free-lance newspaper article, which she sold for $10.

As she continues to produce cookbooks, Glick is trying to simplify recipes to help busy cooks. "People are in a hurry. They don't want to look at a long list of ingredients," she says. "Cooking is terribly hard work."

In the "Snack, Munch, Nibble, Nosh Book," Glick uses shortcuts such as frozen vegetables, prepared pizza sauce, shredded cheese, won-ton wrappers and ready-made tortillas. There is even a chapter with all-microwave recipes.

Besides grown-up food like Artichoke and Shrimp Spread, Middle-Eastern Style Chicken and Spanakopita Bake, the book also has a section with clever kid snacks, like Mr. and Mrs. Pear Head, Hawaiian Pizza and Egg Sailboats.

"Kids want to have things that are good to eat. It's difficult if you've got a diabetic kid," she says. "I tried to take stuff they could eat and make it fun."

While she's committed to providing nutritious appetizers, Glick doesn't skimp on flavor. She even has managed to transform guacamole into a delicious low-fat treat by using frozen peas, as well as slash calories from other popular foods, like pizza and creamy dips.

"You wouldn't know they're low-fat," Glick says. "The last thing people think about doing low-fat is snacks and appetizers. I've done the experimenting."

Middle Eastern-Style Chicken

Serves 10 (3 pieces per serving)

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, trimmed of all fat and cut into bite-sized pieces

2 cups frozen mixed pepper and onion stir-fry

2 garlic gloves, minced

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 cup fat-free, low-sodium or regular chicken broth

14 1/2 -ounce can low-sodium or regular diced tomatoes

1/2 cup dark raisins

1 large bay leaf

1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves

1 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/8 teaspoon cloves

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

salt to taste (optional)

In a nonstick skillet coated with nonstick spray coating, cook the chicken pieces over medium heat, turning frequently, until they begin to brown.

Add the onion and pepper mixture, garlic, oil and 1 tablespoon of the broth to the skillet. Stir up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Raise the heat and bring to a boil.

Lower heat again and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, 2 or 3 minutes, or until the onion is slightly softened. Add the remaining broth, tomatoes, raisins, bay leaf, thyme, cumin, allspice, cloves and black pepper.

Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, uncovered, about 20 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and the sauce has cooked down slightly. Remove the bay leaf and discard. Add salt to taste (if desired).

Serve at once, or transfer to a casserole, cover and refrigerate. The chicken will keep for 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator. Serve the chicken in a casserole on a hot tray or in a chafing dish. For a buffet variation, serve the chicken and sauce over couscous.

Per serving: 99 calories; 2 grams fat (0 grams saturated fat, 20 calories from fat); 27 milligrams cholesterol; 106 milligrams sodium (varies according to ingredients used); 9 grams carbohydrate; 1 gram dietary fiber, 7 grams sugars, 11 grams protein

Parmesan TrianglesServes 10 (5 pieces)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon water

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

25 won-ton wrappers, cut in half to form triangles

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a large baking sheet with nonstick spray coating. Set aside.

In a small bowl, stir together the oil, water, garlic and Italian seasoning.

Set the won-ton wrappers on the baking sheet in a single layer.

With your finger, spread the oil mixture over the won-ton triangles. (If the mixture begins to separate, stir again.) Sprinkle with the cheese.

Bake for 3 to 4 minutes until the triangles have crisped. Cool in the pan on a wire rack, or serve warm. Triangles will keep for up to a week in an airtight container.

Per serving: 61 calories; 2 grams fat (1 gram saturated fat, 18 calories from fat); 4 milligrams cholesterol; 111 milligrams sodium; 9 grams carbohydrate; 1 gram dietary fiber; 0 grams sugars; 2 grams protein

Guacamole Dip

Serves 14 (2 tablespoons per serving)

1 1/2 cups frozen peas

1/4 cup boiling water

1 small, ripe avocado, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks

1 tablespoon reduced-fat mayonnaise

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 cup mild or medium low-sodium or regular salsa

In a small saucepan, combine the peas and 1/4 cup boiling water. Cover, bring to a boil, and simmer 2 minutes. Cool in a colander under cold running water. Drain well.

In a food processor container, combine the peas, avocado, mayonnaise, lemon juice, cumin, chili powder and garlic. Process until blended but not absolutely smooth, stopping and scraping the container sides, if necessary. Stir in the salsa.

Cover and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours or up to 24 hours to allow the flavors to blend. The dip will keep in the refrigerator 1 to 2 days. Serve with fat-free tortilla chips.

Per serving: 35 calories; 2 grams fat (0 grams saturated fat, 17 calories from fat); 42 milligrams cholesterol, 42 milligrams sodium (varies according to ingredients used); 4 grams carbohydrate; 2 grams dietary fiber; 2 grams sugars; 1 gram protein

Vegetable Wrap

Serves 2

1/2 cup peeled, chopped cucumber

1/4 cup chopped sweet red or green pepper

2 large pitted black olives, chopped

1 large plum tomato, chopped

2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion tops

1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream

1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning

2 small low-fat flour tortillas

In a small bowl, combine the cucumber, pepper, olives, tomato and green onion. Stir to mix. Stir in the sour cream and the Italian seasoning.

Divide the filling evenly between the two flour tortillas, laying the mixture in a line down the center of each. Roll each tortilla around the filling. Serve immediately.

Per serving: 161 calories; 5 grams fat (1 gram saturated fat, 48 calories from fat); 10 milligrams cholesterol; 211 milligrams sodium; 24 grams carbohydrate; 3 grams dietary fiber; 5 grams sugars; 4 grams protein

Sour Cream and Roasted-Onion Spread

Serves 24 (1 tablespoon each)

2 cups coarsely chopped onion

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 cup reduced-fat sour cream

2-3 drops hot-pepper sauce

1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a shallow 7-inch-by-11-inch baking pan with nonstick spray coating. Add the onions, and toss with oil.

Roast the onions, stirring once or twice until they are very soft and beginning to brown, about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove pan from oven, and cool onions slightly.

Mix together the sour cream, hot-pepper sauce and salt, if desired. Stir in the onions. Serve warm or chilled on fat-free whole-wheat crackers or toasted French bread slices.

Cover and refrigerate leftover spread. Leftover spread will keep in the refrigerator 3 to 4 days. After refrigeration, stir before serving.

Per serving: 17 calories; 1 gram fat (0 grams saturated fat, 9 calories from fat); 3 milligrams cholesterol; 5 milligrams sodium (varies according to ingredients used); 2 grams carbohydrate; 0 grams dietary fiber; 1 gram sugars; 0 grams protein

Pub Date: 01/27/99

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