Confession: There is a homemade cherry pie in my fridge that I’ve been systematically devouring over the past few days, bit by scrumptious bit. This, in direct contradiction to the sentiment I expressed to my mother just the other day: I told her (okay, bragged) that it’s easy to stay trim through the holiday season. I explained that whenever it was up to her, she should eat broth-based soup or a big salad, light on the dressing. To me, this is a practical, holiday-themed approach to the “80-20 rule” (eat what you should eat 80 percent of the time, and what you want to eat for the other 20 percent).
To offset all that pie, salad has been my savior—a really, really big salad, to be exact. In my opinion, the best meals involve lots of chewing for not a lot of calories.
So I’d like to introduce to you my latest creation, which I’m lovingly calling “Big Salad with Grilled Chicken and Grapefruit Vinaigrette.” If chicken isn’t your jam or if you want to serve this as a side salad, omit the poultry and sub in toasted walnuts. You really can’t go wrong here.
Read more »
We’re going waaaay back for this recipe, guys—way back to high school. Back then, one of my best friends informed me that sweet potatoes roasted and topped with a big scoop of peanut butter was one of her favorite snacks, and since then the combination has intrigued me. I guess I could have just tried her method, but no—I wanted to recreate the flavors in a whole new way.
So when my friend’s unusual sweet-potato snack idea recently popped into my mind, I couldn’t wait to set into motion my idea for sweet potato fries with a peanut-coconut dip. I figured it might just make for the perfect holiday-party appetizer—and, guys, I’m preeeeetty sure I nailed it here.
If you’re traveling for a party and won’t have an oven at your disposal, serve the dip crudite-style with red bell pepper strips, Belgian endive and carrots. If you’re at home, roast up some crispy, creamy sweet potato fries and you’ll have your friends knocking elbows at the appetizer table. Just a suggestion: Double the dip recipe and toss leftovers with cooked spaghetti for some out-of-this-world Thai peanut noodles!
Read more »
Thanksgiving might very well be the best holiday on the books, because it’s really the only holiday on the books dedicated exclusively to eating. And more eating. Lots and lots of eating.
While stuffing yourself silly is fun in the moment, chances are you’ll regret it (possibly, big time) later. A smart strategy is to fill your table with at least some lighter, healthier options to help balance the usual calorie bombs. (I’m looking at you, sweet potato casserole with brown sugar and marshmallows.)
Might I make a teensy suggestion? Make this recipe for roasted sesame vegetables a new Thanksgiving tradition. It’s embarrassingly simple, yes, but you shouldn’t take that as a bad thing: This recipe really lets the vegetables shine. With just a few ingredients, this side comes together quickly, but the dynamic sweet and salty flavor really hits the spot.
Read more »
Apple pie is hands down my favorite holiday food item. I’ll pass on the buttery mashed potatoes and the pumpkin bread – just allow me my big fat piece of homemade apple pie a la mode. It’s a shamelessly beautiful end to my Thanksgiving dinner.
I’m no dummy; I know that even though it’s full of fruit, my slice will run me upwards of 500 calories (natch, before the ice cream). But since I have the utmost respect for apple pie, I’d never dare to reduce calories by losing the double crust or (horror of all horrors) subbing an artificial sweetener. Still, there has to be a way to get all the flavor with fewer calories, right? Right.
Read more »
Fall always seems to creep up on me; I mean, I’m still rocking my jean shorts (albeit with a few layers on top). When I finally release the last Indian-summer sentimentalities, I typically resign myself to make some soup. Nothing announces the season for me like a good, hearty soup.
Although chili can be a smart choice, fatty ground beef and all those beans make it nudge the calorie scale a bit higher than I’d like. You have to be choosy; go with white meat when possible, and whenever you up the veggie quotient the calories will fall.
Cumin and oregano suggest that typical chili flavor and allow you to garnish with several (baked) tortilla chips or (small portions) of sharp cheddar cheese. If you’re going to spend four (or if you take in both daytime games, eight) hours on the couch watching football this Sunday, make the easy smart choice with this light, flavorful chili.
Read more »
Everyone has a list of foods they’ll absolutely, positively make homemade and others they’ll consistently buy. When it comes to tomato sauce, I’m of the “absolutely, positively homemade” camp. But after asking around, I’ve realized the art of making your own sauce is lost on most of my friends.
Although I’ve tried many store-bought sauces, I still like my version best; it’s super basic and doesn’t have any wild-card ingredients like red wine or anchovies. Once it’s simmered to sweet perfection, I’ll scoop out a custard cup’s worth of sauce and just eat it with a spoon. It’s absolutely soul-soothing, especially on these cold fall nights.
Some kitchen how-to for any pasta recipe: Always finish your noodles in your sauce instead of combining the two in a serving dish. The starchiness of the noodles helps to coat the strands evenly with sauce. (This is also the reason why you should never put oil in your pasta water—it prevents this coating from happening.)
For the calorie cutters (now’s the time, holidays are right around the corner!), try spaghetti squash. Here’s a step-by-step guide from my blog.
Read more »
Fall is here—officially so next Sunday, in fact—and while I love this season, I still want to hold on to the last bit of summer when it comes to my produce choices. Since cherry tomatoes, fresh greens and fragrant chives are still brightening up my Saturday morning walk through the West Chester Grower’s Market, I decided I would enjoy them right up to the bitter end with one of my favorite indulgences: pizza.
Let me ask you a question, healthy Philly folks: Do you pair your pizza with a salad to lessen the cheesy, greasy, mouth-watering guilt? I do. I feel like if I eat a giant plate of salad I’ll only want two slices instead of four. But what usually happens is I still eat four and feel bloated from all the greens. Sigh.
That’s how I came up with this idea: putting my salad on my pizza and enjoyed the best of both worlds! In other words, the crispy, chewy pizza crust acts as a salad vehicle—no fork required. If you don’t have a pizza stone I’d suggest you make the purchase. Easy to store, fairly inexpensive and worth every penny, they ensure a crispy crust, which is paramount for this pizza.
Read more »
For our first official recipe post of September, I decided I’d be as helpful as possible. You see, I can be a bit bossy when it comes to food, and nothing gets me going quite like you breakfast skippers out there. So you say, “I have no time!” Do you have 60 seconds? That question is rhetorical. A little work on a weekend afternoon will give you a nutritious, delicious breakfast for over two weeks.
A year or two ago, I wanted to make and freeze breakfast sandwiches for my husband, and I realized it was difficult to find a recipe. So I made my own and posted it on my website, Home Beccanomics—and it remains, by far, my most popular post. Since then I’ve been itching to make a “me” version—one that’s a bit healthier than something my hubby would eat—and I figured my “me” version should apply very well to you, healthy Be Well Philly readers. But above all else, I wanted to avoid sogginess, so I did my research.
Full fat cheese melts the best, and a slice of Swiss has a whopping 8 grams of protein. By drying out the English muffins in a low-heat oven, we cut down on the bread’s natural moisture. I squeezed the bejeezus out of the frozen spinach and cooked down my mushrooms until totally dehydrated; lastly, I toasted my bottom slice of muffin in the morning instead of microwaving. Long story short, I L-O-V-E the end result. It’s everything you need, all in one perfectly wrapped, warm, melt-y, flavorful sandwich. Plus, as you probably already know, a breakfast of eggs keeps you fuller, longer—perfect for you movers and shakers.
Read more »
I’m a bargain shopper by nature, so it was hard to pass up zucchini being sold for 25 cents at my local farmers’ market recently. But buying an apocalyptic supply of zucchini left me with one tiny problem: What the heck could I do with all of it? If you remember my zucchini turkey burgers from a few weeks ago, you already know that grated zucchini both inspires and challenges me. So now that I (successfully!) snuck zucchini onto your dinner plate, I’d thought I’d take on breakfast. Ergo: Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins.
If we’re being perfectly honest here, I should tell you that these muffins made me spazzy-happy. Their appearance makes you think brownie, but the flavor is so much more complex—lemon, cinnamon and, obviously, the chocolate create a flavor profile that is at first interesting, and then addicting. Besides the flavor, the consistency is what really threw me for a loop. They are as soft and fudgy as any cupcake! The three cups of grated zucchini add moisture (and fiber!), but I promise you’ll barely notice they’re there.
Enjoy a muffin with a piping hot latte and you’ve got a breakfast that’s absolutely, positively sure to get you going.
Read more »
Clearly, it’s cookout season. I realized one day last week that I’d eaten three pre-made, generic burger patties over the course of just a few days. Burgers are near and dear to my heart, and I’m all for red meat when the occasion calls, but the “buy in bulk” version with fillers is an easy pass. What if I could suggest an alternative that would give you all of the tastiness of a hamburger for a fraction of the saturated fat, calories, and, for lack of a more grammatically correct word, generic-ness?
Starting with ground turkey as the base (note: ground turkey breast is too lean for this recipe) got me on the right road, but adding some low-calorie, high-moisture zucchini stepped it up a level—in a sense, “growing” my burgers. With a guilt-free but creamy sauce as well as sliced tomato, fresh lettuce and whole wheat pita bread you won’t feel like you’re missing out in the least. This dinner is even toddler approved; I felt a little smug as I watched my two-year-old happily nosh zucchini goodness, blissfully unaware of the hidden veggies.
If you’re making it for just one or two people, the patties will freeze well raw or cooked. Just freeze between sheets of parchment or wax paper, wrapped very well in plastic. I ate the leftover burger broken up over some salad for lunch the next day and the flavors made it seem fresh even on day two!