DIETARY ADVICE seems to change as quickly as spring weather, but last week a coalition of nine major health groups came to an agreement on how Americans should be eating to improve their health. The coalition -- including the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, the American Dietetic Association and the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services -- recommends that all healthy Americans over the age of 2:

Eat a nutritionally adequate diet consisting of a variety of foods.

Reduce consumption of fat, especially saturated fat and cholesterol.

Achieve and maintain a reasonable body weight.

Increase consumption of complex carbohydrates and fiber.

Reduce intake of sodium.

Consume alcohol in moderation, if at all. (Children, adolescents and pregnant women should abstain.)

Additional recommendations for special populations are:

To reduce the potential for dental caries:

Consume appropriate amounts of fluoride from drinking water and other sources.

Limit consumption and frequency of use of foods high in sugars (especially children).

To possibly delay loss of bone mass and onset of fractures in later life:

Increase consumption of foods high in calcium, particularly low-fat dairy products (especially adolescents and young women).

To prevent iron deficiency anemia:

Consume good sources of iron such as lean red meat, fish, iron-enriched cereals (children, adolescents and women of childbearing age).

JIM BOUTON is best known to baseball fans for writing a book, "Ball Four," that brought major-league players to life like nothing ever did except a fastball under the chin. Little Leaguers swagger with just a little more authenticity, thanks to Bouton, when they load their cheeks with Big League Chew, the shredded-bubble-gum-in-a-pouch he invented.

And thousands of people from businessmen to bubble dancers know of Bouton as the businessman who markets Big League personalized baseball cards, so they -- and you and I -- can be on a bubble-gum card just like Cal Ripken, Jr.

It was as a thinking pitcher that Bouton was once a 21-game winner for the Yankees and it is with his brains -- "I'm a product inventor" -- that he now makes his living. He also had a season when he was 4-15 and he has "a half a dozen ideas that bombed in the garage."

Now, he thinks he has another winner, Big League Ice Cream Bars. He has taken the stick in a Good Humor chocolate-covered ice cream bar, shaped it like a baseball bat and added the autograph of one player from each of the 26 major-league teams.

They're in the process of being introduced wherever single-portion Good Humor ice-cream products are sold, including from a cart at home games of the Carolina League's Frederick Keys. Plans are to have a new set of 26 players each year and to offer a bat-rack display for collectors.

"Everybody's a kid," says Bouton, "and I think it's going to be as popular with adults as kids. Good Humor is a quality product," says Bouton. "I can see adults eating the ice cream and giving the bats to kids."

After all, nobody buys baseball cards to get the bubble gum.

ONLY CHEESCAKE CAN SATISFY some discriminating palates. If that's you, you should know about Mrs. Greer's Plantation Cheesecake Company in Waldorf, because it sells nothing but. Sit-down and carryout service is available for the classic plain and fruit-topped cheesecakes, as well as chocolate mint fudge, amaretto and key lime flavors at $2.25 per slice or $24 per cake. The shop is located at 133 Smallwood Village Center and is open daily.


Whoever that is hanging around the vending machines all day could actually be working. And it's a $1.5 million deal. Truly.

The National Cancer Institute has given the University of Florida's College of Health and Human Performances a three-year grant to check out eating habits in the work place. About 2,500 workers in the Tampa Bay area will participate in the study to determine whether work is a good place to encourage healthy eating habits.

Japan's Toyo Suisan Kaisha company plans to ship 30 million packets of instant noodles (including 20 percent of the production of a new U.S. factory to open in June) annually to Eastern European countries, particularly the Soviet Union. Nissin Food, the company that pioneered instant noodles, also plans to export the product to Eastern European countries beginning next year and a Korean company has similar plans. So much for borscht and goulash.

Meanwhile, the department of food science and nutrition at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo has come up with a vegetable that looks like green cauliflower and has a milder taste than broccoli. It's called, of course, the broccoflower, and it's not yet available in vending machines.


Green peppercorns are the fruit of the pepper tree (ripened and dried, they become the familiar black peppercorn). They are usually sold freeze-dried or in brine.

1 pound chicken livers

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 1/2 tablespoons butter

1 1/2 tablespoons oil


2 tablespoons minced shallots

2 tablespoons drained green peppercorns

2 tablespoons cognac

1/4 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup chicken stock

1/2 cup heavy cream

3 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

Trim and dry the chicken livers. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Melt the butter and oil in a nonstainless steel or aluminum saute' pan. When hot, add the livers, and saute' over high heat, turning livers once or twice, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until cooked to taste. Transfer the livers to a platter and keep warm.

Add the shallots and green peppercorns to the pan and cook for 1 minute, or until the shallots are soft but not brown. Add the cognac and flambe'. Add the wine and boil until reduced by half. Add the stock and cream and boil until reduced by half. Whisk in the butter, little by little, followed by salt and pepper to taste. Pour the sauce over the livers and serve at once. Per serving: 488 calories, 29 gm protein, 8 gm carbohydrates, 35 gm fat, 18 gm saturated fat, 791 mg cholesterol, 312 mg sodium.

Steven Raichlen