Forget chips and salsa! This recipe is perfect for any fiesta or afternoon snack and it’s far more nutritious than your average bag of potato or tortilla chips. I added a touch of heat to these kale chips with a dash of chili powder and used sesame oil instead of olive oil for a savory taste you’ll love all spring.
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This bean salad is perfect for any celebration, but it bursts of flavor make it ideal for Cinco de Mayo. Aside from classic Mexican ingredients, this bean salad takes a twist using white beans instead of black, Greek yogurt instead of sour cream and almonds instead of pepitas. This salad can be served as a light, vegetarian main meal or as a side dish for lunch and it’s perfect for the warm weather that’s headed our way!
Mix up a batch of lightened-up margaritas, then cook up a bunch of these fiesta-inspired favorites.
Soup, Starters and Sides
Fresh ingredients and lots of spice make these appetizers and side dishes healthy crowd-pleasers.
My 22-month-old, Hudson, is a great eater as far as I’m concerned. But that doesn’t mean he won’t dive into a bag of Goldfish crackers and devour them all. It takes a certain amount of effort to offer our little ones snacks that are nutrient rich and likeable. Sure, its easy to fall into the rut of Cheerios, cookies and crackers and there is a place for all of this in a balanced diet. I also believe our kids learn to like the foods we give them regularly. So try these healthy snacks out for size and your little one will benefit from the added nutrition a cracker doesn’t always have.
- Beans: Like a Cheerio, beans are a great, packable, finger food. Having a cabinet full of canned beans like chickpeas and black beans is as simple as being stocked up on cereal. Pop open a can, rinse the beans and offer them as part of a meal or packaged in a baggie as a snack for on-the-go. Packed with fiber, protein and lots of nutrients this is a no-brainer. Plus, soft beans like cannellini are easy on gums.
- Dried Fruit: A great alternative to fruit snacks, dried fruits like apples and cherries are a tasty finger food that have a good shelf life, pack easily and of source are loaded with antioxidants and nutrition. Look for no or low-sugar options. Read more
Buttery flavor, big crunch, and subtle sweetness sums up these medium-sized round nuts. Although native to Australia, Hawaii has since taken over as the largest exporter in the world. With a famously hard outer shell, you’ll most often find these nuts cracked and ready to eat.
One ounce of macadamia nuts (about 10 to 12 kernels) contains 200 calories, 21 grams of fat, 2 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber. They also offer a decent amount of thiamin, iron and copper. Macadamia nuts are rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. A small study conducted by a popular macadamia manufacturer reported that subjects who ate 1.5 ounces of the nuts per day showed improvements in cholesterol (lower total cholesterol and lower LDL “bad” cholesterol ) over a 5-week period.
Freekeh (pronounced free-kah), is an ancient grain that’s had new-found popularity lately. If you haven’t seen it on supermarket shelves or on the menu at your favorite restaurant, be on the lookout; you will soon.
What is Freekeh?
In Arabic, the word freekeh means “to rub.” About 2,000 years ago, the grain was created by accident when a Middle Eastern village was attacked and their young green wheat crop was set on fire. The villagers rubbed off the burnt outer layers and cooked up the grain, and thus freekeh was born. It has a crunchy, nutty taste, which has been described as a cross between brown rice and barley.
What Makes Freekeh So Healthy?
One half cup of cooked freekeh has about 130 calories, 1 gram of total fat and 8 grams of protein. It’s free of saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. This ancient gem is an excellent source of manganese, providing 70% of your recommended daily amount. It’s also a good source of fiber (with 4 grams per ¼ cup dry), plus phosphorus and magnesium. Freekeh is a whole grain so adding it to your diet can help you meet the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines to make half your grains whole.
Freekeh is also rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, two plant chemicals that have been shown to aid in eye health. This ancient grain also seems to work as a prebiotic, helping good bacteria flourish in the digestive tract.
Work Your Way Up
Start from the bottom and work your way up to the dressing. First course of action: Select your greens. Good choices include romaine, spinach, or a combo of field greens. Keep in mind that iceberg lettuce contains fewer nutrients than darker greens, and build your salad on a plate or in a bowl — stay away from the calorie-laden crunchy taco shell.
Choose several colorful veggies to top your salad like tomatoes, carrots, radishes, cucumbers and bell peppers. More colors mean a wider variety of nutrients. This is a great opportunity to use leftover veggies that are lingering in the fridge—and a perfect way to minimize food waste.
With so many hip grains like quinoa and millet on the market it is easy to forget about options like wild rice. This nutty, fiber and nutrient-rich grain is not only good for you but when mixed with long grain brown rice it’s an inexpensive, whole-grain option. The chewy rice lends nicely to the dense, chewy dried fruits and when paired with the crunch of nuts and seeds this salad is very inviting.
Choosing the Right Can
Both water and oil-packed tuna can be used create a healthy recipe. At the market, the most common water-packed varieties are albacore and chunk light. Albacore comes from a larger species and has a milder flavor, while chunk light comes from a smaller fish and tends to have a stronger flavor. Three ounces of tuna canned in water has around 100 calories, 1 gram of fat, and 22 grams of protein.
Oil-packed varieties have more calories and fat than water-packed tuna, and the price is usually higher than water-packed. Three ounces has about 170 calories, 7 grams of fat and 25 grams of protein. Splurge on oil-packed on a special occasion and drain to help remove some of the fat.
Tuna is even more convenient than ever — you don’t even need can opener to enjoy it; you can now find tuna in pouches. The pouches are available in the same oil and water-packed varieties with similar nutritional content to canned. Some companies like Starkist also pack their tuna in extra-virgin olive oil or sunflower oil and have low-sodium options available.
We’ve all heard of the health benefits of quinoa but I love it because it is so easy to prepare. Like rice, you combine 1 part quinoa with 2 parts cooking liquid, boil, cover, simmer for 10-12 minutes and it’s done. Quinoa is naturally nutty and delicious but I love adding spices to the cooking liquid for even more flavor and nutrition. A mix of curry, cumin, mustard, herbs, seeds and beans makes this recipe a nutrient-packed side dish or meal in itself.