All Posts By Melissa d'Arabian

Mom of four Melissa d'Arabian is a trusted expert on affordable and healthy family home cooking. Well-known for Ten Dollar Dinners — her Food Network show and New York Times best-selling cookbook — she also hosts the FoodNetwork.com series The Picky Eaters Project and serves as a lead judge on Guy's Grocery Games. Her new cookbook, Supermarket Healthy, is available now. www.melissadarabian.net

5 Must-Haves for a Healthy Summer Fridge

by in Healthy Tips, May 15, 2014

5 Must-Haves for a Healthy Summer FridgeI know the 4th of July will be here in what feels like minutes. What better time, then, to “summer-ize” my fridge? I want to keep things lean, light and healthier in the summer, and by stocking my fridge (and freezer!) now, I’ll be ready for the season well before Memorial Day.

You probably do your own version of spring-cleaning in your fridge, making it healthy and appealing: chopping veggies to store in chilled water, peeling and slicing fruit into bowls for a fresh healthy dessert, or making a few batches of refreshing spa water to keep you hydrated now that the weather is warmer (see my post on that topic).

Here are my top five food items to add to your healthy and lean fridge this summer:

1. Low-Cal Condiments: I keep my fridge stocked with low-calorie condiments. I reach for these as dips or to add flavor to foods. My favorites are: Dijon mustard, hot sauce (such as Frank’s) and the less-known Slawsa. Here are some ideas for using them:

  • Dijon Mustard: Use it as a base for salad dressing. It will help emulsify a water-heavy vinaigrette, so you can make a dressing out of 1 part vinegar, 2 parts water and 1 part olive oil if you start with a hefty spoonful of mustard. Or mix Dijon mustard with some chopped herbs and use it to coat chicken or pork before cooking for added moisture and flavor. Finally, try whisking it into sauces at the end of cooking for a creamy texture for almost no fat or calories.
  • Hot Sauce: Mix a few tablespoons of hot sauce with a spoonful of water and a tiny knob of melted butter, then toss with grilled chicken or fish for a healthy Buffalo-style appetizer. Or pour it over an egg white omelet tucked into a corn tortilla for a perfect breakfast or lunch soft taco.
  • Slawsa: This is a low-cal condiment of cabbage and a tangy sweet mustard. It has 15 calories per serving, and it can go on anything from sandwiches to roasted or grilled fish or chicken. It’s also great for topping a plate of eggs or loading up some baked whole-wheat pita chips. My grandmother always said her health secret was to eat cabbage every time she had a chance, so I love honoring her with my favorite condiment. Note that there is some sugar in Slawsa, which is only significant if you start eating it out of the jar by the spoonful. (I say that completely hypothetically, of course.)

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My No. 1 Tip for Navigating a New Gluten-Free Lifestyle

by in Gluten-Free, May 1, 2014

Navigating a Gluten-Free LifestyleLast month I shared here on Healthy Eats that we discovered my daughter is gluten intolerant, and so for nearly a year I have been navigating the new waters of gluten-free living in our house. Since then I have been asked many questions by gluten-free folks wondering everything from whether going gluten-free has made a difference in my daughter’s life (answer is yes, like night and day) to wanting tips on going gluten-free or accommodating gluten-free guests.

I’ll back up and tell you that my initial response to gluten-free cooking was to head straight into my arsenal of recipes (and luckily, I have a lot of them) and start the swapping — corn starch for dredging, gluten-free flour blends for baking flour, tamari instead of soy sauce. While this wasn’t a bad start, it was ignoring an obvious solution, which is my number No. 1 tip for gluten-free neophytes: Start out making foods that are just naturally gluten-free.

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Crepe Night: Gluten-Free Edition

by in Gluten-Free, April 3, 2014

Crepe Night: Gluten-Free EditionOne of our favorite special-treat meals is crepe night. We whip up a few batches of crepes and make an entire meal of them, starting with savory ham-and-Gruyere crepes (perhaps topped with a fried egg, called a “complete” crepe in French) and finishing with sweet versions — either lemon, butter and sugar, or the classic chocolate-hazelnut with sliced banana. In a throwback to our pre-kids life in Paris, our crepes are all served “street-style,” folded into large triangles and slipped into some parchment or laid on a paper plate. The family gathers around the kitchen island on barstools, and I play the short-order cook, serving crepes as they are ordered.

One of my daughters has become gluten-intolerant, however, so over the past year I’ve had to navigate the waters of a gluten-free world — learning swaps, and testing and retesting my old recipes in new gluten-free versions. And I’ve learned when to let go and accept that I simply cannot re-create a credible version without gluten (yes, I’m talking to you, croissants). Crepes fell into a category somewhere in between. We could make a passable version, but since the kids were on spring break and I was taking most of the week off to spend time with them, I figured I had the time to (finally) nail the gluten-free crepe. And I did.

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