Among the big holidays, Easter isn’t traditionally associated with excessive eating. But any family gathering has the potential to lead to overindulging. The best strategy: Plan your menu around fresh, healthy and seasonal recipes.
Rice is over. Couscous is passe. It’s all about alterna-grains these days. But don’t just stock your pantry with these exotic-sounding carbs and hope for the best. Those wheat berries won’t cook themselves! Here’s what to do with your kitchen’s latest grainy guest stars.
Triple Herb Freekeh (above)
Get your freekeh on! In a simple dish like this one, which is simply grains, onions, herbs and a light lemon dressing, the type of grain you use makes all the difference. Chewy, nutty freekeh (roasted green wheat) will make this one a standout.
Bring On the Three-Bean Salad
Just one serving a day of beans, peas, chickpeas or lentils appears to reduce “bad” cholesterol, a review of 26 controlled studies has found. According to the lead researcher, a single ¾ cup of these foods may lower LDL cholesterol by five percent, which can translate roughly to a five or six percent reduction in heart disease risk. Two factors may influence this. First, the foods have a low glycemic index, meaning that they keep blood sugar levels even (and eaters sated) by breaking down and getting absorbed into the body at a slow and steady rate. Second, they also appear to help rid our systems of the bad fats we ingest. The catch? We currently eat less than half a serving a day.
With spring in swing, it’s the time to welcome warm weather but also a bounty of new ingredients — like spicy radishes, buttery lettuces and beans and sweet peas. Which means you can give your spice rack a break and make natural flavors the star of the meal. And this month I’m excited to highlight a recipe that puts some of April’s arrivals to good use.
In this Easter and Passover-worthy salad, fennel, endive, mint and lamb provide all of the seasoning you need — no salt necessary. Fennel offers an herbaceous, licorice-like taste. The endive brings a welcome bitterness. The juicy lamb provides a natural salty kick. And a little fresh mint, lemon juice and olive oil add the right touch of sweet and sour to balance it all out.
“I started working out seven years ago,” says Anthony Martin, the executive chef and partner at Tru in Chicago. “I wanted to make the health aspect of my life as important as my career. I’ve seen a lot of chefs not being healthy and I didn’t want that.”
For Martin, getting into shape meant eating three square meals a day — often high-protein and vegetable-heavy dishes without processed ingredients or sugar — and working out regularly, both with weights and in the boxing ring.
Sharp, juicy radishes, a nutty cheese and an easy dressing are all you need to create a refreshing salad to usher in the spring season. Once tossed in a vinaigrette, radishes begin to pickle and soften. At this point, they can be left for up to an hour before you add the watercress and serve, which also creates pretty hues of pink. The salty, buttery texture of Pecorino cheese is just right accompanied by the bitter watercress and peppery radish sprouts.
Born in Ethiopia, adopted by a Swedish family and raised in Sweden, Marcus Samuelsson comes to cooking with a unique background. He credits his Swedish grandmother, Helga, with first introducing him to the joys of the kitchen. He spent childhood summers at her side learning to pickle fresh vegetables, make meatballs and other Swedish delicacies. But as an adult, he returned to his native Ethiopia and learned about the culture’s cuisine and intricate spices.
In 2010, when he opened his restaurant Red Rooster Harlem in New York City, he described the menu as “American comfort food with hints of my Swedish and African roots.” Here, the chef — who has also made appearances on Iron Chef and Chopped – opens up about what goes on in his own kitchen.
What are your favorite healthy foods?
My favorites are definitely anything fresh and raw. Fruits and vegetables I pick up from the farmers market in the morning after a run are ideal, and there’s this guy that sells the best peaches in the summer.
When it comes to eating well, casseroles need not be the enemy. Meaty, cheesy dishes full of refined carbs may be the retro take on casseroles — but these new one-pan winners prove that healthy eaters and comfort-food cravers can be on the same side after all.
Squash and Kale Casserole (above)
When it comes to eating healthfully, kale is king. But yellow squash and zucchini have their merits too. This casserole combines them all with brown rice and tops things off with a crisp, golden-brown breadcrumb topping — the casserole version of a cherry on top.
Whether by homing in on the nearest farmers market, creating a visual food diary or offering another easy way to eat better, these apps merit a spot on your smartphone.
As more burritos hit the frozen food aisle, Healthy Eats was curious to see which fit the “healthy” bill. Sure, making your own bundle of deliciousness is ideal — but sometimes you’re just in the mood for a grab-and-go meal. So which burrito to heat and eat?
Supermarket freezer cases are overflowing with burrito options, including vegetarian, beef and egg. But for the sake of simplicity, this taste test was narrowed down to chicken. Five brands of burrito were in the running, and each was heated in the microwave according to the manufacturer’s directions. The burritos were rated on calories, saturated fat and sodium, along with ingredients, flavor, texture and cost. Although some brands contain seemingly healthy ingredients, they can also have a laundry list of preservatives and additives. Each brand was rated on a 5-point scale, with 5 being highest.