Chocolate-Chia-Cherry Granola Bars | Photo by Becca Boyd
Ah, bars. They call to me. Last week I had a protein bar and a bowl of ice cream for dinner. I’d been cooking all day and didn’t think making a meal for myself was worth the effort. This is sad. Take it from someone who knows: If you find yourself relying too heavily on what should be a last resort snack, it’s time to get back in the kitchen — you’re worth it (I’m pointing my finger at myself).
You know by now that homemade is always better (planet, wallet, you get it), and big-batch is a time-saver as well. These Chocolate-Cherry-Chia Granola Bars are brimming with satiating components: walnuts, chia seeds, and coconut oil check all the boxes in the “fat equals full” category, and these bars work equally well for breakfast, a pre or post-workout bite, an afternoon snack, or dessert. Add making these to your to-do list on Sunday afternoon and your week will be better for it — trust me.
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Cinnamon Apple Overnight Oats | Photo by Becca Boyd
I never skip breakfast. This is not to say that my breakfasts are always Insta-worthy, though. In fact, the concoctions are getting weirder and weirder in my efforts to make the meal a quick one: a cheese stick, an apple, and the crust from the kids’ toasts? I can do better.
Enter this make-ahead overnight oatmeal. It’s as quick a meal as a cheese stick but far and away more satisfying — and far more Insta-worthy, too. If you whip it up and store in glass jars, you can microwave them straight from the fridge, stir in your sweetener of choice, and be out the door before the coffee finishes its drip.
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I recently conversed with two ladies who both, in all seriousness, professed to having “forgotten to eat for a whole day.” I gaped at them in total bewilderment. Aside from the occasional stomach bug, I’ve never missed a meal — let alone a whole day of meals. I’m a hungry girl. I eat a beautiful diet full of produce, healthy fats, and protein for all the right reasons, one of which is satiating my hunger whilst maintaining my shape. I never skip breakfast (the horror!) and rarely go three hours without a snack.
Why so hungry? I’m over trying to figure it out.
Instead, I’ve become a consistent believer in “volumetrics,” and have learned there are certain foods that I can shamelessly eaten with abandon, as in, I’m going to eat until I feel full. These are my go-to foods to get me back on track after the scale creeps or I’ve attended one too many kids’ birthday parties. If you, too, are an always-hungry girl like me, take note.
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Chicken Salad | Photo by Becca Boyd
Chicken salad is a make-ahead, crowd-pleasing healthy option for a back to school party or potluck. Do I sense some raised eyebrows? I’m not referring to chicken salad of ye olden days: one drenched in mayonnaise. This vinaigrette-dressed salad is full of veggies, protein, and healthy fats — and way less mayo than you’d find in your nearest deli’s variation.
Not feeding a crowd? Either half the recipe or plan on freezing leftovers in plastic sandwich bags so you have perfectly portioned lunches to toss over mixed greens or fill a whole-wheat pita!
This recipe is incredibly straightforward (read: pretty hard to mess up), so I will let the instructions speak for themselves. One thing to note, though: I chose to poach the chicken because I find it yields the most tender results. To poach a food you cook it at a near simmer. This means that as it cooks, you should see a bit of movement in the water, but no bubbles. If you bubble away your chicken it will not be tender, it will be tough and chewy. Just glance at the pot a few times and make sure it’s not simmering. Easy.
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Tomato and Corn Salad | Photo by Becca Boyd
Fact: If we had delicious produce at the ready all year like we do in August, healthy eating would be pure joy. During this time of year, tomatoes and corn taste like they’re supposed to taste — especially if they’re bought at a roadside stand on the way home from the Shore. And this side dish, which can easily be turned into a main dish with the addition of some greens and protein, epitomizes the simplicity and ease of summertime cooking.
The secret to this recipe is in the corn. Make sure you cook the corn until it’s turning golden and the bottom of the pan is glazed and sticky. The other amazing complement is the jalapeño, so don’t skip out on this. First you get a salty-sweet taste, then the finish is pure spice. Trust me: The end result is well worth the bit of time spent in the kitchen during the dog days of summer.
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Balsamic-Cherry Pork Tenderloin | Photo by Becca Boyd
To be perfectly honest, this recipe for Balsamic-Cherry Pork Tenderloin produces a flavor profile I’m not as used to; I use allspice in granola and some cookies but not usually on meat. Plus, cherries? But trust me: Different can be a good thing.
I think so many people see recipe ideas that seem out of the ordinary and shy away from them. The thing is, cooking unique recipes is a great way to expand your palate. Just because it’s unfamiliar doesn’t mean it won’t taste delicious. Plus, the more ways you know how to prepare healthy food, the more likely you are to stay on track with your healthy-eating plans.
This is a wonderful weeknight meal because the ingredients are few — you only need five ingredients, excluding salt and pepper! — and the technique is simple. Cherry season is too short for my liking, but frozen fruit is just as good for you as fresh and, in this case, frozen fruit works just perfectly. If you want to swap half a small onion for the shallot, feel free; just slice it paper-thin so it loses its bite while it cooks. Happy cooking!
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Peanut Chicken Lettuce Wraps | Photo by Becca Boyd
The other day, my mom bought my kids a donut from Wawa. I had a bite. And I might’ve swooned a little. Newsflash (that you probably already know): Unhealthy food can be really, seriously delicious. And it can be hard to navigate the food scene when healthy food is often just, well, less appetizing. Besides, light beer pairs best with pizza and nachos.
If you, too, have trouble drooling over healthy food, I have just the recipe for you. This recipe is what I eat when I’m hungry and tired of portion control. Lean chicken in a sauce with just the right amount of fat, tossed with broccoli slaw (the storebought stuff you buy in a bag, which you could pretty much eat buckets of without feeling bad). Then, instead of serving the salty/sweet/spicy umami-rich (thank you, fish sauce) concoction over rice or in a tortilla, it’s wrapped in tender butter lettuce leaves.
It’s addicting in very real way — and not in the way people say kale chips are addicting. Like, in the way people say Wawa donuts are addicting. And you won’t feel bad about digging in. Read more »
Protein-Packed Chicken and Asparagus Summer Soup | Photo by Becca Boyd
This is one of the freshest tasting soups I’ve had in a long time. With spicy radish and bright lemon, not to mention the seasonal asparagus, sipping on this soup is probably the closest I’ll ever get to doing a “cleanse.” And, speaking of cleanses, have you heard that souping is the new juicing? This is a trend I can get on board with. But question: What does the health industry have against chewing? Me, I love to chew.
This soup is high in protein thanks to the white beans and chicken, but not in calories — the sort of meal I might eat daily leading up to a “tight dress” sort of event. AND you still get to chew while eating it. Win-win. Read more »
Shredded Chicken Tacos with Avocado Cream | Photo by Becca Boyd
Taco Tuesday is pretty common but, though we love Mexican food, it’s not one we implement in my house. I just never seem to have all the right ingredients on hand at the same time. But I’m thinking it’s really time to change that, because besides a salad — which, let’s face it, can get a bit boring — I can’t think of a better (or more crowd-pleasing) way to get summer’s bounty of fresh produce into one delicious meal.
Because the ingredients involved in these shredded chicken tacos are simple, the flavors are allowed to shine, and the avocado cream is literally lick-the-plate good. Coming together in under 30 minutes, this recipe works well for weeknights, but as you can see form the photo, the end result is so fresh and pretty that it also works for entertaining guests. Happy cooking! Read more »
Protein-Packed Gluten-Free Pancakes | Photo by Becca Boyd
When my husband began eating gluten-free, pancakes were one of his saddest farewells. Breakfast for dinner is a staple in our house and pancakes are hard to beat. I tried a few mixes and fell hard for Trader Joe’s gluten-free pumpkin pancakes — alas, it’s a seasonal item.
But making your own is always a good bet, so I got to work in the kitchen. I wanted a pancake that was naturally sans gluten, low enough in calories that I could partake, and filled with enough protein to keep us satiated. Well, my friends, I have found it. And the best part? This pancake mix is made, start to finish, in your blender. Read more »