There’s been a lot of buzz about kale chips lately. They’re so hot you can even buy them pre-made in packages, like potato chips. And like potato chips, they have a satisfying crunch, but unlike traditional potato chips, kale chips are baked in the oven and not fried. Kale chips are low in calories, are full of powerful antioxidants and are a good source of calcium, vitamins A and C and fiber. Don’t be tempted by the bags of kale chips at the grocery store. You can make your own in minutes.
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In parts of Italy, men sport a sprig of basil on their lapel if they’re looking for love. Although an interesting fashion statement, we’ll enjoy basil as part of our healthy eats instead.
The herb basil (Ocimum basilicum, Labiatae) is part of the mint family. It seems to have originated in India about 4,000 years ago. The ancient Greeks called it the “King of Herbs.” The herb gained popularity in England in the 16th century and was brought to the Americas by English explorers.
Basil can be found in different shapes, sizes, and colors — there are over 60 varieties. The most common are large-leaf Italian sweet, purple opal, Thai, lemon, tiny-leaf and African blue. Sweet Italian (a.k.a. sweet Genovese) is probably the one most recognized. The bright green leaves are rounded, have a pungent flavor that’s a cross between licorice and cloves.
The main producer in the U.S. is California, but basil is also grown commercially in India, Israel, Mexico, Yugoslavia, Italy and Morocco.
Don’t ask us why Junk Food Day is a national food holiday, but it is, and just because it is, doesn’t mean you can’t partake responsibly. Snack on your favorite “junk foods” today, minus the guilt. Stick to our list of Healthy Eats-approved recipes and you won’t miss out on this national celebration of nostalgic junk food.
Chips and Dip:
5-Layer Mexican Dip (pictured above)
We covered the basics of making your own ice pops, now it’s time to get fancy. From sweet to savory and icy to creamy, grab some Popsicle molds (or paper cups and wooden sticks) and get chillin’.
Ice pops are a healthy indulgence. They can be made with nutritious ingredients like fruit, fruit juice, herbs, milk and yogurt. A little sugar, honey, or even alcohol can make them extra special. Since they’re portion controlled, there’s no need to feel guilty.
You can freeze almost anything into an ice pop – use these simple tips for success every time.
- Always use freezer-safe containers.
- Allow at least 6 hours to freeze (overnight is ideal), then run molds under warm water to release.
- Adjust amounts of sweeteners and other flavorings to taste.
- Watch portions of alcohol – use too much and the pops won’t set up properly (you’ll have slush instead).
Not sure how to prepare okra in a healthy way? Fried okra is a classic, but this green-hued veggie can also be prepared with few calories and fat added. Here are 5 mouthwatering recipes to get you started.
Pickling is an easy way to preserve the summer goodness of produce. Prepare the pickling mixture and just sit back and relax—that’s all there is to it.
RECIPE: Pickled Okra
Gobs of mayo and butter can wreck this summertime goodie. Lighten up your favorite recipe and dive in!
Restaurant offerings for lobster rolls range from 600 to 1440 calories and 34 to 98 grams of fat per serving! Lobster certainly isn’t the problem: 3 ounces of cooked lobster meat contains 83 calories, 1 gram of fat and 17 grams of protein. It also packs in 44 percent of the daily requirement of vitamin B12 and more than 50 percent of the mineral (and antioxidant) selenium.
Shellfish like lobster does contain a fair amount of cholesterol: a 3-ounce portion has 20 percent of the daily recommendation. But since shellfish like lobster and shrimp are low in saturated fat, they can still be incorporated into a heart-healthy diet.
So if lobster isn’t to blame, what is? Heaps of mayo and butter are to thank for the skyrocketing calorie counts.
Today is a day of celebration for the French, known as Bastille Day or La Fête Nationale (The National Celebration). If you’ll be celebrating the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille, or just happen to be craving some French fare, fear not, there are plenty of healthy French options — it’s not all butter, cream and escargots.
Fête on This:
Ratatouille: Not to be confused with the popular Disney movie about the little Remy-the-rat who dreams of becoming a chef, ratatouille-the-dish hails from Provence and is composed of eggplant, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, zucchini, garlic and herbs—all simmered in olive oil. Ratatouille can be served hot, cold or at room temperature, either as a side dish or as an appetizer with bread or crackers. If you keep the oil in check, ratatouille is a healthy way to eat up the produce that’s just begun to flood the markets. Ellie Krieger’s version is light on the oil so the calories are few; it makes a hearty side dish or colorful vegetarian main.
Try: Ellie Krieger’s Grilled Ratatouille Salad (pictured above)
When it comes to soups, salads, stews, sandwiches, casseroles, pasta and pizza, you can find an abundance of veggies used to add flavor, crunch, and necessary nutrients. But the one place you may not find your fill of vegetables is in breakfast foods. With the average American only getting about two servings of veggies each day, that morning meal is a crucial place to make sure you’re meeting your veggie mark. Here are some mouth-watering ways to get vegetables in your breakfast each day.
Green smoothies have risen in popularity ever since celebrity health fanatics like Dr. Oz have started touting their benefits. Aside from their fame appeal, green smoothies really are good! Dark leafy greens, which are high in vitamin A, can easily be blended in fruit smoothies as a way to pack more nutrients in to your breakfast beverage. Your drink will be green but it won’t taste like you’re drinking a salad – I promise! Leafy greens aren’t the only smoothie-worthy veggies; carrots will lend a mild sweet flavor to your smoothie, and so will a scoop of canned pumpkin.
Finally…plum season has arrived! This juicy stone fruit is only in season a short period of time. Be sure to enjoy it while it lasts.
What, Where, When
The plum (Prunus domestica, Rosaceae) belongs to the rose family with cherries, peaches, and apricots. There are hundreds of plum varieties grown throughout the world. Common varieties include French, Italian, Imperial, Greengage, Long John, Castelton, and Fellenburg.
Plums grow on trees in clusters, have smooth skin and a pit in the center. Plums can be oval or round in shape. The skin can be deep purple, red, green, blue, or multicolored. The flesh can be orange, red, purple, yellow, or white. Plums also vary in taste—some are sweet while others are tart. They’re available from July through October.
If you’ve never tried cooking in foil or paper, trust me . . . it’s easy! En papillote is considered a healthy cooking method as it uses heat (not fat) to cook food, keeping calories in check. Here are simple steps to get you started:
En Papillote Basics
En papillote is French for “in parchment,” so the food is baked inside parchment paper or foil. The main food and accompanying ingredients (like herbs, vegetables, or sauce) are placed inside packets and either baked in the oven, cooked in microwave, or even grilled. As the food bakes, steam is created which cooks the food. As the steam is released, it also causes the parchment paper to puff up into a dome shape. To serve the meal, all you need to do is slit open at the table to reveal the goodies inside.