Making Less Seem Like More for a Mother's Day Fete

Planning a Mother's Day lunch for dieting mothers is no easy task when finicky, calorie-conscious guests will be invited. There are so many people today whose tireless efforts to lose weight will not be recessed--even on a special occasion such as this--that ingenuity on the part of the host is a prerequisite.

It is, however, possible to make guests feel secure about indulging while still making the occasion a special one. A simple menu built around salads or light entrees is a delicious way to do it.

These are not the take-out variety of salads, which often are loaded with hidden fat from ingredients such as mayonnaise, oil-rich dressings, bacon, eggs, avocados and the like. This list includes recipes that capitalize on creative combinations of taste and texture. A medley of warm and cold, sweet and savory that will make everyone feel safe, yet satisfied.

Crowned With Slender Dressing

The glamorous recipes offered here take advantage of inherently low-fat protein sources like skinned chicken, turkey and seafood and combines them with fresh fruit and vegetables. Some moderately lean items such as beef and veal also are featured. Each of the salads is crowned with a slender dressing, then served with sparkling apple cider, crusty French bread and fresh fruit as fitting, but optional, accompaniments to an elegant and festive bill of fare.

Select one or two or more from the recipes that follow and serve with a tossed green salad and commercial diet dressing.

SPINACH SALAD WITH FRUIT AND BEEF

1 pound beef top round steak

Poppy Seed Dressing or Sherry Vinaigrette or Honey-Yogurt Dressing

1 bunch spinach leaves, stems removed

2 medium oranges, peeled and thinly sliced

1 basket strawberries, sliced

Trim excess fat from steak. Broil 3 inches from heat, 6 minutes per side for rare or until desired doneness. Slice steak across grain into thin slices. Place in glass baking dish and pour in desired Dressing or Vinaigrette. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours, no longer than 24 hours. Toss beef slices with spinach, orange and strawberry slices. Drizzle with any remaining dressing. Makes 4 servings.

Poppy Seed Dressing

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon finely chopped onion

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

1 teaspoon sugar

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1/8 teaspoon white pepper

3 tablespoons oil

Combine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, onion, poppy seeds, sugar, garlic, chili powder and pepper in blender container. Mix until blended. Gradually add oil, blending until smooth.

Sherry Vinaigrette

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

3 tablespoons Sherry

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon white pepper

1/4 cup oil

2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled

Combine vinegar, Sherry, garlic, salt and pepper in blender container. Mix until blended. Gradually add oil, blending until smooth. Stir in blue cheese.

Honey-Yogurt Dressing

1/2 cup low-fat plain yogurt

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 clove garlic, minced

1/8 teaspoon curry powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

Combine yogurt, honey, juice, garlic, curry powder and salt. Mix until well blended.

TURKEY CANNELLINI SAUTE

1 1/2 to 2 pounds smoked turkey breast

1 clove garlic, minced

1 medium onion, chopped

1/2 green pepper, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 medium head red cabbage, thinly sliced

1 medium head Napa cabbage, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves or 3/4 teaspoon dried

2/3 cup chicken stock

2 tablespoons red wine

1 (28-ounce) can plum tomatoes, drained and chopped

2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini (white kidney) beans, drained

Salt, pepper

Cut turkey breast into 1-inch cubes. Saute garlic, onion and green pepper in hot oil in skillet about 2 minutes. Add turkey, cabbages and rosemary and saute 3 minutes. Add chicken stock, wine, tomatoes, beans and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer 5 minutes. Serve with pasta or rice in cabbage leaf cups, if desired. Makes 8 servings.

MANDARIN ALMOND CHICKEN

1 cup orange juice

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons reduced calorie Italian dressing

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 pound boneless chicken breasts

1 1/2 cups water

1 package rice and chicken flavor sauce

1 (11-ounce) can mandarin oranges, drained

1/3 cup sliced green onions

1/4 cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted

Blend 1/2 cup orange juice, 3/4 cup dressing, honey and 1/2 teaspoon mustard in large shallow glass baking dish. Add chicken and turn to coat. Cover and marinate in refrigerator, turning occasionally, at least 1 hour or overnight.

Remove chicken. Heat remaining dressing in large skillet and cook chicken over medium-high heat 4 minutes. Turn and cook, covered, over low heat 7 minutes until done. Remove and keep warm.

Place water, rice and sauce, remaining orange juice and mustard in skillet and bring to boil. Then, reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes or until rice is tender. Stir in oranges, green onions and almonds. Heat through. To serve, arrange chicken over rice. Makes about 4 servings.

KOREAN BEEF AND VEGETABLE SALAD

3/4 pound beef sirloin steak

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon sesame seeds, toasted

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

3/4 pound bok choy cabbage

1/4 pound Chinese pea pods, trimmed

1 small cucumber

1/4 pound bean sprouts

1 carrot, cut julienne

1 tablespoon oil

Korean Dressing

Cut beef across grain into thin slices, then into strips. Combine cornstarch, soy sauce, garlic, sesame seeds and red pepper in bowl. Stir in beef. Let stand 15 minutes.

Slice bok choy stems and leaves crosswise into thin strips. Pour boiling water over peas and let stand 30 seconds. Drain and cool under running cold water. Drain thoroughly.

Cut cucumber crosswise into thin slices. Arrange vegetables on large platter and chill. Heat oil in hot wok or skillet over high heat. Add beef and stir-fry 2 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Spoon over vegetables. Just before serving, pour desired amount Korean Dressing over meat and vegetables. Garnish with yellow pepper and pineapple slices, if desired. Makes 4 servings.

Korean Dressing

2/3 cup reduced calorie mayonnaise

4 teaspoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon minced green onion

1 tablespoon water

2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds

Whisk together mayonnaise, lemon juice, soy sauce, green onion, water and sesame seeds. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

VEAL ARTICHOKE SALAD

1 (6 to 6 1/2-ounce) jar marinated artichoke hearts

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon minced chives

1 clove garlic, minced

1 small sweet red pepper, cut into short thin strips

1 pound veal leg cutlets

Salad greens

Drain artichokes, reserving marinade. Stir together 1 1/2 tablespoons reserved marinade, vinegar, chives and garlic in large bowl. Coarsely chop artichokes. Add to dressing mixture in bowl and stir in red pepper.

Pound veal cutlets to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into 3 x 1-inch strips. Combine veal strips with 2 tablespoons reserved marinade and allow to stand 5 minutes. Heat 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes. Drain strips well and sear half of veal in hot skillet just until cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove veal from skillet and add to bowl with artichoke mixture. Allow skillet to reheat, then repeat with remaining veal. Toss veal artichoke mixture to coat with dressing. Serve immediately over salad greens. Makes 4 servings.

SEAFOOD FAJITAS SALAD

6 cups shredded lettuce

1/2 pound cooked bay shrimp

1/2 pound flaked cooked crab meat

1/2 small avocado, thinly sliced

1 cup julienned jicama

1 sweet red or yellow pepper, slivered

1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion

1/2 cup shredded reduced fat Cheddar or Jack cheese

1/2 cup prepared salsa

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Cilantro sprigs

Warmed tortillas, optional

Line 4 salad plates with lettuce. Arrange shrimp, crab, avocado, jicama, pepper and onion on each plate. Sprinkle with cheese.

Stir together salsa, vinegar and chopped cilantro. Spoon over salads. Garnish with cilantro sprigs and serve with tortillas. Makes 4 servings.

CURRIED BANANA SALAD

1 cup low-fat plain yogurt

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon chopped chutney

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

3 bananas, sliced

3/4 cup sliced celery

1/4 cup sliced green onions

Salt

Romaine or leaf lettuce

8 slices turkey breast

1/2 cantaloupe, diced

2 kiwis, peeled and sliced

12 strawberries, halved

Lemon wedges

Slivered green onion tops

Combine yogurt, lemon juice, chutney, mustard, curry powder and ginger in bowl. Mix well.

Place bananas, celery, green onions and dressing in large bowl. Mix gently to coat evenly. Season to taste with salt

Line serving plates with lettuce. Arrange banana mixture, turkey slices, melon, kiwi and strawberries on lettuce. Garnish with lemon wedges and slivered green onion tops. Makes 4 servings.

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