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Healthful foods to get you over those post-holiday blues

Daniel Neman, St. Louis Post-Dispatch on

Published in Health & Fitness

You can eat it immediately after cooking it, while it's still nice and warm, but I kept mine in the marinade overnight so the shrimp were chilled, and also to allow them to soak up even more of the flavor.

I'll admit I chose the next dish, Colombian Shredded Chicken, because the calorie count in the book I found it in was so low. What was amazing when I made it was how much taste it could pack into so few calories.

But when you think about it, it is not surprising. This dish makes the most out of an assortment of aromatics: onion, garlic, scallions and a red bell pepper, plus fragrant paprika mixed with a small amount of oil to saute them in.

The meat is chicken, and the recipe substitutes the traditional Colombian dark meat for a less fatty, less caloric chicken breast. It benefits tremendously from just a splash of red wine vinegar, too, to provide a faint acidic counterpoint to the oil and paprika.

For a healthful vegetable, I made french fries -- but only sort of. I cut thin slices of potato and then "bake-fried" them.

"Bake-frying" gives you the taste of frying, but the healthful benefits of baking. You give the slices of potato a very light coating of olive oil and then bake them until they are soft and delicious.

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The potato alone is good enough, but what makes this dish really shine is the combination of flavorings that you toss the potatoes in before baking. Salt, obviously, but also garlic, black pepper, paprika and cumin.

The cumin may seem unlikely, but this is originally a Central American dish, and that means cumin. It is certainly a welcome addition to the combination of flavors. Your family and friends are sure to applaud you, and they don't even have to know how low in calories the slices are.

The last healthful dish I made, Cardamom Beef with Caramelized Onions, has its origins in Beef Stroganoff. This version, though, substitutes nonfat yogurt for sour cream, which is fine as far as it goes.

But this dish goes much farther than that, because it isn't just based on Beef Stroganoff, it is also based on a cognac-cream sauce. This is a classic sauce for beef, though it also works for pork tenderloin, combining cream (or in this case, the nonfat yogurt), cognac and Dijon mustard. It is a combination that is warm and soothing and very elegant.

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