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Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts

Brussels sprouts, in addition to looking like mini heads of cabbage, are in the cabbage family, making them cruciferous vegetables. The earthy, cabbage-y flavor of sprouts is nicely complemented by chestnuts. If you’re not up for cooking and peeling chestnuts, look for cans of whole cooked chestnuts. Thyme is a sweet yet savory herbal underscore for the dish.

Spicy Clams in White Wine

When buying clams, be sure that the shells are tightly closed. Serve the clams in bowls with crusty bread for sopping up the sauce. Or, if you like, remove the clams from their shells and toss with a bowl of spaghetti or linguine.

Tex-Mex Cracked Wheat Salad

Bulgur (which is cracked wheat that’s been precooked with steam) is usually used to make a Middle Eastern salad called tabbouleh. Here, it’s the basis of a salad that includes corn, black beans, and smoky chipotle pepper sauce, giving it a distinctly New World slant. This hearty side dish could easily be converted to a main dish with the addition of 2 cups shredded cooked chicken or cooked shrimp, or 8 ounces of shredded fat-free mozzarella.

Super Heart-Smart Müesli Mix

A Swiss doctor (named Bircher-Benner) who ran a diet clinic in Switzerland in the late 19th century, invented a breakfast dish that included oats, chopped apples, and soured cream. A packaged version of the original Bircher-müesli mix has been marketed for years (and is still a tradition in Switzerland), and usually contains dried fruit instead of the fresh fruit in the original. For our müesli, we’ve chosen high-fiber figs and dates, as well as heart-smart sunflower seeds.

Carrot-Orange Dressing

The teensy bit of fat in this fat-free salad dressing is coming, of all things, from the cayenne pepper.

Roasted Pepper, Tomato & Chick-Pea Salad

This hearty salad makes a great starter course. Pumpkin seed oil, which is imported from Austria, has a rich, nutty flavor. If you can't find it, substitute dark sesame oil. Hulled pumpkin seeds are sold in most health-food stores; they are sometimes labeled "pepitas."

Pasta Salad with Tonnato Sauce

Tonnato, or tuna sauce, is usually served over slices of cold cooked veal. The flavorful sauce makes a delightfully different pasta salad. For a stronger tuna flavor, use light tuna rather than albacore. If you like, toss in some steamed vegetables, such as broccoli florets, snow peas, or cut-up asparagus spears.

Tomato & Rice Salad with Lime-Ginger Dressing

If you can find bottled ginger juice at your supermarket, use it instead of the home-squeezed. You’ll need 2 tablespoons.

Cider-Poached Pears

Be sure you use unsweetened cider and not sweetened apple juice. The reduced poaching liquid has a nice natural sweetness, but you can skip the step if you'd like and just serve the pears as is. To make only 1 serving: Place one halved pear in a small skillet and add apple cider to come about halfway up the sides of the pear. Add 1 or 2 slices of ginger. Cook as directed.

Braised Leeks with Tomato & Coriander

Leeks, the aristocrat of the onion family, have a sweet, mellow onion flavor and when gently cooked, a very tender, delicate texture. Serve these as a side dish, part of a buffet, or as an appetizer.