All Entries For healthy cooking
For years, the Mediterranean "diet" has been touted by many nutrition experts as a way to reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease, certain cancers and more, but the advice had been loosely based on the results of "observational studies." People living in countries that border the Mediterranean Sea, including Greece, Italy, Spain and Turkey, tend to have a lower risk of those diseases. These folks consume a bounty of fresh and wholesome fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, beans, olive oil, nuts and seeds.
However, the evidence favoring a Mediterranean-style eating plan just got much stronger. A major clinical study published this week in The New England Journal of Medicine found that about 30% of heart attacks, strokes and deaths from heart disease can be prevented with a Mediterranean-style eating plan. Test subjects for this experimental study were selected if they had risk factors for cardiovascular disease such as type 2 diabetes, smoker, hypertension, elevated LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, overweight or obesity, or a family history of premature heart disease. The scientists randomly assigned the 7,447 male and female subjects (ages 55-80) into one of three groups:
- Mediterranean diet plan plus 4 tablespoons olive oil daily
- Mediterranean diet plan plus a 1 ounce mixed nuts (walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts), or
- A low-fat diet plan
The results of this study now position the Mediterranean diet as a powerful eating plan when it comes to the prevention of heart disease. If you want to compare your daily diet to the Mediterranean plan used in the study, here's the checklist: Read More ›
Are you caught up on the latest juicing craze? Regardless making homemade juices are a great choice for those wanting to take control of their health. Homemade juices are healthier than store bought as you can control what ingredients are being used and nothing unnecessary is added. It’s a great way to use those fruits and vegetables are ripe and ready to use. I’ve come up with some of the best combinations by throwing in everything on the container that needs to be eaten today into the juicer. It also a great way to eat fruits and vegetables you may not enjoy on their own. All of these recipes require a blender or juicer. Stay hydrated and filled up on nutrition with these delicious juice recipes. Read More ›
When you think of cabbage, do you think of a garnish used to add color or fill in the white space on a plate? Or worse, do you remember watery, mushy, or chewy boiled cabbage that a relative over-boiled with cured meat? If so, then you share my shock and surprise that, at least until recently, I've been missing out on the vitamins and nutrients packed into this water-rich super food. Cabbage has more vitamin C than an orange is a great source of vitamins A, K and also is high in folate and fiber too. I like the flavor that it adds to soups and salads. My favorite recipe in the "The SparkPeople Cookbook" is Chef Meg’s Minestrone Soup and much of the flavor and nutrition comes from the two cups and chopped cabbage in this recipe. Use these cabbage recipes to add extra vegetables to your nutritional intake. Read More ›
When it comes to the protein portion of a healthy diet, boneless, skinless chicken is a hero. It’s versatile, easy to prepare and naturally lower in fat and calories than many other meat options. But by itself, chicken can be, well, a little boring.
Baked, grilled or roasted chicken is probably a regular part of your dinner rotation. So you’ll need some great side dishes for chicken that add a little spark to the plate. We’ve gathered 10 side dish recipes to help you bring new life to that chicken dinner.
If you haven’t tried miso, the flavorful, fermented Asian ingredient made from soy, then you should. Miso adds umami, or savory flavor, to any dish. Serve this recipe as a side dish for grilled chicken marinated in soy sauce, fresh ginger, garlic and lime. Read More ›
With the amount of time, effort, and cash that is going into putting a meal on the table, it's a shame to let any leftovers go to waste. While you might not want to eat the same meal two days in a row, you can easily turn any extra servings into something entirely different--with very little work.
Orange Miso Grilled Salmon
You might not be able to decide which way you like this recipe the best: cold or hot. Shred chilled salmon and place atop salad greens, along with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and orange slices. Read More ›
There's no more perfect time of year than right now to start cooking with blueberries. This Native American gem is flavorful and loaded with outstanding nutrients, antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins. A recent study from a Harvard School of Public Health found that eating three or more servings per week can reduce a woman’s risk of heart attack by as much as 33%. Research is also finding that eating blueberries helps with mental wellness and can improve your memory too. Even when they're not in season, I keep them in my freezer and pop them into my hot cereal or right into the Vitamix blender for smoothies. The next time you are at the market, grab a basket of blueberries and enjoy how these recipes will help you become a healthier and happier you. Read More ›
Have you ever noticed how, at restaurants, even lean cuts of steak come to the table glistening? Then, with the first bite, they taste so rich--and they're never dry! No matter what you do, you just can't figure it out. Is it the professional stove that does it? A wood-fired grill? A fancy cut of meat?
Nope. The secret's in the sauce--and I'm about to spill. The secret is butter.
Maître d’hôtel butter is a mixture of raw butter, parsley, and lemon juice. The butter is spooned over a steak just as it leaves the grill, then melts onto the surface to leave behind only a sheen.
While I'm sharing a major trade secret here, I feel it’s my duty to report to all those trying to make healthy and positive changes in food they eat.
The next time you order a lean steak at a restaurant ask your waiter if the chef finishes the steaks in butter and just say, “No, thank you.” Better yet, save money and grill at home--then add color and flavor to your lean meat with these easy ideas and recipes. (We think these ideas are perfect for a simple Valentine's Day meal!)
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Down home Southern cooking has produced some of our finest classic American dishes. At the same time, many of these original recipes include unwanted fats, calories and sodium. With some simple changes, we can enjoy this quintessential comfort cuisine and still stay on-track with our health goals. Read More ›
Making ravioli can be a snap if you use my trick of swapping out wonton wrappers for homemade pasta dough. Wonton wrappers are found in the cold food area of the produce aisle (usually also where you would also find tofu).
Pick up round, rectangular and square shapes to mix up your ravioli. My favorite are the rectangular shaped wrappers because I can fill one half then do a quick egg wash glue and fold over to seal. The round and square ones are smaller, so I place filling in the middle of one, spread egg wash on the edges, then top with another wonton wrapper.
A tip: Don’t throw out leftover chicken, fish or beef. Keep it for ravioli filling! Instead of a second night rerun meal, you turn leftovers into a premiere. Use my recipe for Slow Cooker Rotisserie Chicken as a base for some of the ideas below. Get the kids involved and make an assembly line, soon you will have enough to freeze or share with the neighbors.
Prepping your ravioli:
Instead of using a whole egg as the glue to hold the ravioli together, opt for egg substitute or egg whites. I like to add 1 teaspoon of water to each egg white or 1 tablespoon of egg substitute to thin it out. Press down the edges with your fingers or a fork.
When filling the wontons, keep the package covered with a damp towel so they don’t dry out. Wrap and freeze any unused wonton wrappers for up to two months.
Cooking your ravioli:
Bring water to a boil before adding the ravioli. Add them one at a time so they don’t stick together, then give them a stir. Don’t allow them to boil rapidly; if the water has too much movement, the ravioli will break open. Ravioli will give you a sign when they are cooked: They will float to the top of the water.
Now you're ready to start cooking. You can use your favorites, such as cheese, spinach, or sausage, but you can also get creative and start cleaning out the fridge to fill your ravioli.
Here are some non-traditional but super delicious fillings: Read More ›
That lovely, roasty aroma hits you when you walk into the grocery on your way home from work and you spy a display case of rotisserie chickens near the checkout aisle. Of all the convenience foods on the store shelves, this one’s a good choice—a simple roast chicken, a good tossed salad and a loaf of whole-grain bread can make a satisfying, healthful and easy dinner.
A store-bought roast chicken can easily feed a family of four—and there’s more you can do with it than simply slicing and serving. Shredded or diced roast chicken can star in all kinds of easy meals.
For these meal ideas, start with a store-bought chicken, or try this slow cooker version.
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On more SparkPeople members' dinner tables, chicken is stepping aside while lean pork is the star of the meal. I am a big fan of lean pork products for busy weeknight meals, slow cooker Sundays, and tablecloth: and: good china Saturday night dinners. Choosing leaner cuts of pork such as the tenderloin, roast, and chops will bring more flavor to your favorite recipes than leaner cuts of poultry and at about the same price.
Not sure how to cook pork or need some new ideas? Here are a dozen to get you started. Read More ›
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, not only because that’s "what my Mom used to say," but because, as my kids will tell you, their Mommy (me) gets pretty grumpy when she doesn't have a good breakfast. In all seriousness, several studies point to the importance of breakfast for metabolism, mental acuity, as well as other key health and wellness factors. SparkPeople has made breakfast a key priority in its programs too.
At the same time, not everyone feels the same about breakfast. Too big a breakfast and my husband will feel ill. The wrong breakfast choices and my kids will stage an uprising, of which they’re usually on the verge anyway in the morning. To help other Sparkers who find breakfast challenging, I've gathered our best recipes that have a proper balance of complex carbs, proteins, and fats that are also quick, easy, and affordable to prepare. Start your day right with these breakfast gems. Read More ›
When Chef Meg and I started planning the recipe list for "The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight," we had a few criteria in mind. They had to be healthy, since this would be a SparkPeople cookbook, and they had to be easy, since even Chef Meg doesn't spend hours in the kitchen when she's not teaching chefs how to cook. Most importantly they had to be delicious. We banned bland food and ditched the diet. Together we created 150 meals and recipes ready in 30 minutes or less that use real foods like butter, bacon, and chocolate (not all together!).
With this cookbook you can eat the foods you love while losing weight--and you don't have to deprive yourself! You can eat like a chef without spending hours in the kitchen. And you can learn how to get the entire family excited about eating right (there's even a section on getting kids in the kitchen and teaching them to cook).
The SparkPeople Cookbook not only shares great recipes, it also provides a healthy cooking education. From tools to ingredients, you learn what to stock in a healthy kitchen, then you get the lowdown on good-for-you cooking methods, from steaming and braising to roasting and grilling.
If that's not enough to entice you, take a sneak peek at these recipes--so good, you won't believe they're good for you!
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Wonder what 300 calories looks like? 300 calories look drastically different when you're eating in instead of dining out. Choosing healthier, more nutritious foods--at home and away--means you can eat much more food and still lose weight. Check out these 18 meal comparisons to see for yourself, then forward this post to your friends! Read More ›
There's something so comforting about tomato soup, especially when paired with a grilled cheese sandwich. Today we're sharing with you a simple recipe for a homemade version of this comforting classic, plus ideas for how to top your soup--and easy ways to transform it into other meals.
Mmm, mmm, better! That's what you will be saying when you try my easy Creamy Tomato Soup. It tastes so much better than the stand-by canned variety, which rely on salt for most of their taste.
The condensed tomato soup we grew up eating has 480 mg sodium (about 20% of the max you should consume in a day). The homemade version has less than 100 mg per serving.
Tomato soup is delightful on its own, but it also pairs well with all sorts of toppings. Try one of these flavorful toppings: Read More ›