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The Slim Gourmet

Canned Tuna Is Low in Both Cost and Calories

February 28, 1985|BARBARA GIBBONS

Tuna is truly a "convenience food" that's ready when you are. Unlike most convenience foods, however, tuna is low in cost and calories and a nutrition bargain. Low in fat and cholesterol, yet high in protein, vitamins and minerals, tuna is a cheaper source of good protein than most meat. But tuna is only 35 calories an ounce, compared with 80 to 100 calories an ounce for most steaks and chops. In fact, tuna is so weight-wary that you can afford to pair it with rice or pasta or sauce it up with wine or tomatoes and top it with cheese. Here are some Slim Gourmet ideas:


8-ounce can tomatoes

8-ounce can plain tomato sauce

one-half cup chopped onion

1 large rib celery, thinly sliced

Optional: 1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons minced Italian parsley

1 teaspoon dried oregano ( or Italian seasonings)

salt, pepper, to taste

2 cans (6 1/2 ounces each) water-packed tuna, flaked

5 ounces protein-enriched large macaroni shells

3 tablespoons grated extra-sharp Romano cheese

Combine tomatoes, tomato sauce, onion, celery, garlic (if using), parsley, oregano, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer gently for 20 minutes, stirring frequently.

Uncover and continue to simmer until most of the liquid evaporates and sauce is gravy-thick. At the last minute, stir in tuna, including liquid, and heat through.

While sauce cooks, cook macaroni shells according to package directions until tender. Drain. Spoon tuna and sauce over shells and top with grated cheese. Makes 6 servings, 210 calories each.


2 pounds eggplant, peeled, diced

16-ounce can tomatoes

one-half cup chopped onions

1 teaspoon each: dried oregano and mint

1 teaspoon garlic salt

one-quarter teaspoon each: ground cinnamon and nutmeg

pinch of red cayenne pepper

2 cans (6 and one-half ounces each) water-packed tuna, drained and flaked

1/2 cup low-fat pot-style cottage cheese

4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

2 eggs

Simmer eggplant, tomatoes and onions together for 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Turn half of the mixture into an oven-proof casserole. Sprinkle with herbs, spices and seasonings. Spread evenly with the drained, flaked tuna. Cover with remaining tomato-eggplant mixture.

Combine cottage cheese, Parmesan and eggs in blender or food processor; beat smooth. Spoon on top of casserole. Bake uncovered in a preheated 350-degree oven 30 to 45 minutes. Makes 6 servings, 185 calories each.


4 ounces lean cooked boiled ham (or Canadian-style bacon)

1-pound-13-ounce can tomatoes

1 green bell pepper, seeded, chopped

1 large rib celery, thinly sliced

1/2 cup chopped onion

6 tablespoons uncooked long-grain white rice

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2teaspoon garlic salt

Pinch red cayenne pepper

2 cans (6 1/2 ounces each) water-packed tuna

Spray a large non-stick skillet with cooking spray. Dice ham (or Canadian-style bacon) into half-inch cubes; brown lightly in skillet with no added fat. Stir in remaining ingredients, except tuna. Heat to boiling, then cover and simmer over low heat 20 to 25 minutes, stirring frequently, until rice is tender. Stir in tuna flakes and liquid; heat through. Makes 4 servings, 315 calories each (5 calories less per serving with Canadian-style bacon).

Beans are lean and low-calorie, yet most baked bean dishes are sticky-sweetolasses or other sugary sweeteners, a dietetic disaster! The French version of baked beans, cassoulet, is also fattening, but for a different reason. Instead of syrups and sweets, a traditional cassoulet is heavy with grease (and hard to digest for many), thanks to the addition of fatty sausages and salty goose preserved in its own fat. But it's not the fat that makes cassoulet flavorful, it's the interesting mixture of hearty garlic, onions, fresh herbs and smoky flavor.

You can make a very creditable cassoulet that's low in fat and calories using such native American ingredients as turkey. Here's how:


(White bean casserole)

1 pound dried white beans


1 turkey drumstick, smoked or fresh

2 onions, peeled and quartered

2 cloves garlic, mashed

one-quarter cup chopped fresh parsley

5 or 6 fresh (or 1 teaspoon dried) basil leaves

3 or 4 bay leaves

1 teaspoon poultry seasoning (or dried thyme)

Pinch of powdered clove

optional: salt, pepper to taste

12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) mixed-vegetable juice

5 tablespoons herb-seasoned bread crumbs

Put beans in a 6-cup container; cover beans with cold water. Leave in the refrigerator 12 hours or more. (Soaking a day or two in the refrigerator until you're ready to use them will not cause any harm.)

Rinse beans in cold water and discard any that float. Combine beans with remaining ingredients, except vegetable juice and bread crumbs. Add 1 cup water. Cover and simmer over low heat until meat and beans are nearly tender, 1 hour or more. (Or put the covered casserole in a 350-degree oven and bake until tender, 1 to 2 hours.)

Remove and discard bay leaves. Remove and reserve turkey meat; discard skin and bones. Stir meat gently into the beans along with the vegetable juice. Sprinkle the bread crumbs on top. Bake casserole uncovered, in a preheated 425-degree oven 30 minutes, until top is brown and crusty. Makes 8 servings, 275 calories each. (Serve with a steamed green vegetable and tossed salad, if desired.) Portion leftovers into single servings, then label and freeze.


1 pound dried white beans, 1 1/2 quarts boiling water

4 ounces Canadian-style bacon, cubed

2 onions, finely chopped

3 or 4 cloves garlic

3 or 4 bay leaves

Salt, coarse pepper, to taste

Combine ingredients in a slow cooker. Cover and cook over low heat 12 hours or more, until beans are tender. Remove bay leaves before serving. Makes 8 servings, 235 calories each.

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