Healthy Italian Meal at Home
With a family history of diabetes, osteoporosis and high cholesterol, Mary Bilyeu strives to keep her health in check. "There's no reason to eat unhealthy foods when it's possible to eat nutritious food that tastes great," she says from her Ann Arbor, Michigan home. "You really don't have to let genetics win if you take an active role in staying healthy."
But this busy mom to 16-year-old son Jeremy and part-time writer, proofreader and administrative assistant assures she's not a "food purist." As she says, "If you eat a low-fat, low-sugar diet with lots of whole grains and fruits and vegetables, you can splurge on birthday cake or other less-healthy foods when they come your way."
When she's not helping out friends or rooting for her favorite sports teams, Mary enjoys watching Jeopardy! (she was even invited to be a contestant on the show) and entering cooking contests. "I'm constantly trying to devise new, delicious recipes," she writes.
She also stays fit with long walks and weight-bearing exercises to strengthen her bones. "I exercise for my health, not because I enjoy it!" she says with a laugh. "I'd rather cook than break out in a sweat." And she's willing to share her healthy-cooking secrets—with a lighter dessert, main dish and side.
"I cook Ragu Bolognese slowly, which creates a rich, delicious sauce. The veggies add fiber, and skim milk and turkey sausage keep it lighter," Mary says.
With garlic, red pepper and balsamic vinegar, Mary's good-for-you Steamed Kale is not only packed with vitamins but flavor, too.
"A variation of Chocolate Cannoli Cake was a finalist in a 'Best Cake in Michigan' contest," she writes. You'll be shocked that something so delectable has just 8 g of fat per serving!
Print a copy of this list before you head out to the supermarket. It offers all of the ingredients you need to prepare Mary Bilyeu's Ragu Bolognese, Steamed Kale and Chocolate Cannoli Cake.
crushed red pepper flakes
1 small orange
1 small bunch carrots
1 small bunch celery
1 small onion
1 pound fresh kale
1 whole garlic bulb
1/2 pound Italian turkey sausage
1 can (15 ounces) crushed tomatoes
1 container (15 ounces) reduced-fat ricotta cheese
1 package (12 ounces) miniature semisweet chocolate chips
1 container (64 ounces) orange juice
1 package (5 pounds) whole wheat flour
1 container (8 ounces) baking cocoa
1 can (14.5 ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 package (16 ounces) uncooked whole wheat spiral pasta
1 jar (3.25 ounces) prepared pesto
1 can (2.25 ounces) chopped ripe olives