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Less Stress for the Holidays

December 12, 1991|MARCIA CONE and THELMA SNYDER | Cone and Snyder are cookbook authors. and

The holidays are among the most stressful times of year. Expectations are high. Lists are long. And does anyone ever finish their greeting cards by Dec. 25?

Here are some tips and recipes to make the holiday a little easier.

TIPS:

* Recent medical research indicates that low calcium intake may be a more important link to the causes of high blood pressure than high sodium intake. Make sure that you are getting enough calcium through milk and dairy products such as yogurt. Other sources are less-expensive leafy vegetables: kale, collard greens, bok choy and mustard or turnip greens.

* Some experts say that a diet that revolves around high-fiber foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, is more satisfying than one that relies heavily on dairy products and desserts. This is because high-fiber foods take longer to eat and take up more space in your stomach and small intestine so that you consume less.

* When you have leftover fish or beef stew, cooked vegetables, or the Ginger Chicken below, serve them over a four-minute microwave-baked potato for lunch the next day. Potatoes give you a large percentage of nutrients for only 100 calories. They are most nutritious when cooked and eaten with the skin on.

Marinating, cooking and serving are easier and the flavors become more concentrated when the chicken is cooked in individual ramekins. If you don't have four (eight-ounce) ramekins, use a nine-inch pie plate. If using the pie plate, combine the entire marinade in this dish and then cook the chicken for the same amount of time, stirring once.

GINGER CHICKEN

4 (4-ounce) pieces boneless, skinless chicken breasts

4 green onions, thinly sliced

1/4 cup grated ginger root

4 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce

4 teaspoons brown sugar, packed

4 teaspoons water

1 teaspoon dry Sherry

Bok Choy and Bulgur Pilaf

Slice each chicken cutlet diagonally into 1/4-inch slices. Combine 1 tablespoon sliced green onions, 1 tablespoon grated ginger, 1 teaspoon soy sauce, 1 teaspoon brown sugar, 1 teaspoon water as well as 1/4 teaspoon dry Sherry in each of 4 (8-ounce) ramekins, stirring well to mix.

Divide chicken into 4 equal portions, then stir into marinade. Let stand at room temperature 10 to 15 minutes.

When ready to cook, cover each ramekin tightly with plastic wrap and place in circle in microwave, leaving 1-inch space in between. Microwave on HIGH (100% power) 4 to 6 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Serve over Bok Choy and Bulgur Pilaf. Makes 4 servings. Each serving Ginger Chicken contains 154 calories and 5 grams of fat.

Bok Choy and Bulgur Pilaf

1 teaspoon full-flavored olive oil

2 tablespoons finely chopped onion

1/2 cup bulgur

1 cup chicken broth, fat removed

1 pound bok choy, trimmed, with stalks and leaves cut into 1/4-inch pieces (about 4 cups)

1 tablespoon rice wine or dry Sherry

1/8 teaspoon crushed hot red pepper

Combine olive oil and onion in 4-cup glass measure or 1-quart microwave-proof casserole. Cover with lid or plastic wrap, turned back slightly on 1 side. Microwave on HIGH (100% power) 1 minute. Stir in bulgur. Add broth. Cover again and microwave on HIGH 2 to 3 minutes or until boiling. Stir.

Cover again and microwave on MEDIUM (50% power) 5 to 10 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed. Let bulgur stand, covered.

Combine bok choy, rice wine and crushed red pepper in 2-quart microwave-proof casserole. Cover tightly and microwave on HIGH 1 minute. Stir. Cover again and microwave on HIGH 1 to 3 minutes more or until bok choy is tender-crisp.

To serve, stir bulgur into bok choy and mix well. Spoon mixture into individual serving bowls and spoon on Ginger Chicken and cooking juices. Makes 4 servings at 140 calories and 1 gram fat per serving.

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