All Posts By Emily Lee

5 Pasta Salads You Won’t Regret

by in Healthy Recipes, May 19, 2016

Pasta salad is just as emblematic of the American cookout tradition as a juicy cheeseburger, whether you prefer yours with bow ties or macaroni, diced celery or bell pepper, or creamy mayonnaise or zesty vinaigrette. But what you might consider a modest serving could very well pack enough sugar and fat to knock you into a dreaded food coma for the rest of the day. If you’re eager to indulge in this classic summer side dish a whole lot more now that barbecue season is upon us, consider trying new ways to lighten up your go-to recipe. Reducing the mayo and cutting the sugar in the dressing — and loading up on wholesome, in-season vegetables — are excellent places to start.

American Macaroni Salad
Food Network Kitchen’s lighter take on macaroni salad has all the creaminess that’s expected, even though the recipe requires just half a cup of mayo. A little bit of sour cream is also mixed in, adding a tangy element — along with the cider vinegar — to this typically mild dish.

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7 of the Quickest — and Healthiest — Side Dishes Ever

by in Healthy Recipes, In Season, May 12, 2016

Here’s the predicament: You’re having guests over for dinner tonight, and while you’re at the grocery store gathering ingredients for your carefully thought-out dessert and entree, you realize you completely forgot to plan a side dish. Don’t panic — we’ve all been there. When you’re short on time, it’s wise to avoid slow-cooking grains and zero in on the produce aisle instead. Spring peas, asparagus, edamame and fresh salad greens are just a few of the season’s lifesaving ingredients, each one quickly and easily transformed from its raw state into a flavorsome, complementary side. Here are seven of our easiest and lightest spring sides that are ready in 20 minutes or less. Tuck these ideas away in your recipe arsenal to consult the next time you’re hosting — no one will know the dish was an afterthought.

Green Salad with Strawberry-Balsamic Vinaigrette
Time: 5 minutes
Rachael Ray’s simple five-minute salad embraces the flavors of spring with fresh greens, strawberries and a sweet-tart vinaigrette.

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6 In-Season Sides That Kids Will Love

by in Healthy Recipes, In Season, April 28, 2016

Buying and preparing in-season produce is part and parcel of maintaining a healthy diet, but it’s much easier to eat nutritiously when the whole family is on board. In a world full of boxed mac and cheese and freezer-friendly chicken nuggets, we can understand why packaged or prepared foods are a reliable fallback. But we’re hopeful that the right seasonings and preparation methods can turn arugula, carrots, spinach and more into healthy homemade dishes for the whole family to enjoy. Here are six recipes that incorporate spring produce in ways that will appeal to even the pickiest eaters.

Arugula
Getting kids to eat their greens can be the biggest hurdle of the day, but this Quinoa Salad with Apricots, Basil and Pistachios makes crisp, peppery arugula appetizing for younger palates. Combine the seasonal green with fluffy quinoa, sweet dried apricots and dollops of tangy goat cheese and you’ll hear zero protests when the dish hits the table.

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6 Quick Ways to Serve Carrots This Spring

by in Healthy Recipes, April 21, 2016

Crisp, versatile and exceptionally rich in vitamin A, carrots are a strong ally on busy weeknights, well worth utilizing all year long — not just in the throes of winter, when root vegetables dominate the produce scene. A few additional items like cheese, toasted nuts and fresh herbs can help to break the crunchy orange veggie out of its overplayed role as a garnish or crudite-platter staple and elevate it as the star component of flavorsome spring dishes. Whether glazed, roasted, pureed or shaved into ribbons, these quick carrot sides are great in a pinch, no matter what entree you’re planning to serve.

Carrot, Date and Feta Salad
Carrots add natural sweetness and, most importantly, antioxidants to this fresh, low-calorie salad. Toss the delicate orange ribbons with feta and chopped dates for a salty-sweet element, then let it rest so that the flavors marry while you prepare the main course. Don’t forget to toss in some toasted almonds, for crunch.

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5 Fresher Ways to Prepare Asparagus — Sensational Sides

by in Healthy Recipes, April 14, 2016

We associate asparagus with hollandaise sauce the way we associate peanut butter with jelly. But it’s high time we divorced these tender green spears, rich in antioxidants, fiber, thiamin and iron, from an exceedingly caloric topping that only serves to mask their fresh, vegetal taste. Fresh herbs, lemon juice, and salt and pepper alone can do wonders to cut through the intense earthiness of asparagus without drowning it out completely. For your next spring soiree, consider one of these light and wholesome methods for preparing this quintessential spring vegetable:

Asparagus and Smoked Salmon Bundles
Rosemary-laced asparagus finds its ideal flavor and textural counterpoint in the form of tender smoked salmon. Bundle each individual spear in a slice of the smoked fish — or bundle several spears together.

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Balance Spring Meals with These Leafy Green Salads — Sensational Sides

by in Healthy Recipes, April 7, 2016

If you’ve visited your local farmers market lately, you may have noticed a spike in arugula, bok choy and other salad greens. The return of these leafy vegetables signals the end of produce purgatory, a period otherwise known as winter, when the only produce available to us seems to be root vegetables and cabbage. If you feel your diet’s been lacking in fiber these last few months, then grab these springtime vegetables and start pairing your dinners with leafy green side salads. Here are five recipes that require little time and effort, but a whole lot of in-season produce.

Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese and Walnuts
You can find spinach year-round at most grocery stores, but the tender green peaks in freshness during the spring. Skip the saute pan for a change, and serve fresh spinach in its tender uncooked state with a red wine vinaigrette, chunks of tangy goat cheese and toasted walnuts. Add some grilled chicken for a simple yet balanced weeknight dinner.

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5 Spring Sides for a Healthier Easter Feast — Sensational Sides

by in Easter, Healthy Recipes, March 24, 2016

Whether you’re serving a juicy glazed ham or a stately crown roast of lamb this Easter, you can count on a filling — and most likely meaty — main dish. If you’re determined to save room for dessert, your best bet is to keep the side dishes light by showcasing fresh spring produce. Your local farmers market will likely have an ample selection of asparagus, peas, and arugula and other fresh greens at this time of year, so make the most of it while the short season lasts.

Here are a few dishes to help turn your Easter celebration into a feast of spring produce:

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5 Cupcakes That Are Secretly Lighter — Comfort Food Feast

by in Healthy Recipes, March 17, 2016

Winter is nearly behind us, and that alone is cause for celebration. If you’re planning a coming-out-of-hibernation party, be sure to fill your spread with festive dishes that give comfort-food season the sendoff it deserves. As Julia Child once said, “A party without cake is just a meeting,” so don’t even think about skimping on dessert. To make hosting easier, skip labor-intensive layer cake and whip up a few quick batches of cupcakes instead. That way, you won’t have to deal with cutting and serving. Portion control is yet another benefit of serving cupcakes, especially for the host if there are leftovers. We’ve got devil’s food, red velvet, carrot cupcakes and more — all of which happen to be lighter than your average cupcake recipe, thanks to a few clever modifications.

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5 Better Ways to Put Bacon on Everything — Comfort Food Feast

by in Healthy Recipes, March 10, 2016

There is perhaps no other food that inspires the same degree of fanaticism and controversy as bacon. From a near-cultlike following that’s led to the creation of bacon-themed apparel to the less-than-glowing WHO report from late last year warning that those who eat diets high in bacon and other processed meats might be elevating their cancer risk, it’s safe to say the crowd is split 50-50 between blind devotion and fearful skepticism. Where does that leave us when we’re trying to clean up our eating, but we also really want a comforting slice of bacon crumbled into our salad or sandwich?

Let’s work with the facts: Bacon is delicious, and while research has made a pretty strong connection between daily processed meat consumption and the possibility for illness down the road, dietitians have said that occasional bacon consumption is perfectly fine, especially when you buy “uncured” bacon.

Rather than using bacon as the centerpiece at mealtimes, we should be thinking of it as a garnish or topping — a small flavoring component, like an herb or spice. Careful with “topping,” though. We’re all intrigued by the notion of a bacon-lattice apple pie, but unless it’s Thanksgiving, it’s better to stick to the “in moderation” mantra.

Need a few examples? Try using bacon as …

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5 Healthier Ways to Enjoy Peanut Butter for Dessert — Comfort Food Feast

by in Healthy Recipes, March 3, 2016

A creamy swirl of peanut butter can improve almost any dessert: cake, cookies, brownies … you name it. But, as with all good things in life, adding peanut butter means adding calories — 94 per tablespoon, to be exact. Still, peanut butter offers more nutritionally than, say, a sugar cookie, so there’s no reason to shun it altogether. You can give your dessert a nutty protein boost by adding peanut butter and rein in the calories elsewhere with reduced-fat dairy, natural sweeteners and so on.

Here are five examples to show you how it’s done:

Healthy No-Bake Chocolate-Peanut Butter Bars
These creamy bars contain natural peanut butter, tangy Greek yogurt and reduced-fat cream cheese, plus a chocolate-cookie crust. No baking is necessary; the dessert sets in the refrigerator.

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