On April 16th 2013, I gave birth to a healthy, happy, seven pound, two ounce baby boy named Zachary. Throughout my pregnancy, one of the most popular questions I got was, “Are you still going to be vegetarian?” I also heard a lot of, “Are you craving meat now?” and “If you crave meat, will you eat it?”
As tomato season picks up, you may be seeing more options out there, like the sweet yellow ones I serve with this smoky mesquite chicken. The technique behind the simple tomato side dish is macerating — a fun and super-cool way to jazz up a recipe. Macerating is similar to marinating, but the term is traditionally used when talking about fruits and vegetables. As fruits and/or veggies soak in acidic ingredients like vinegar, citrus juice, wine or liqueur, they absorb the liquid, soften, and develop a more intense flavor. For the best results, once you combine the fruits/vegetables and their soaking liquid, let them “brew” for at least 30 minutes to develop full flavor.
In this recipe, I partnered the tomatoes with tangy white balsamic vinegar (I used raspberry-seasoned white balsamic vinegar – YUM!). I also added a little sugar (not uncommon) to draw moisture out of the tomatoes and create a syrup. The result is a sweet and flavorful embellishment for grilled chicken. You can also serve the tomatoes with fish, shellfish, pork, and steak.
Mesquite Grilled Chicken with Macerated Yellow Tomatoes
When you make the move to a meatless diet, one of the first things you may miss is that familiar sink-your-teeth-into-it texture you got from beef, chicken and even some fish. Fortunately, there are so many plant-based foods that easily mimic the texture of meat and are versatile enough to be used in a variety of recipes, whether you’re craving a burger or anything else.
Mushrooms: Mushrooms have a savory umami flavor, making them a star ingredient in meat-free burgers. I’m not talking about those measly veggie burgers at restaurants that have just one floppy portobello mushroom cap slapped in a burger bun. I’m talking about a thick, filling mushroom burger like the one above (photo courtesy of Oh My Veggies), which also contains lentils and oats.
What if I told you that there was a “pill” that, when you consumed it, helped you get a better workout, which of course leads to more strength and better calorie burning? The same pill would also help you focus at work or home so you could get the important things in your life done better and faster. Oh, and by the way, it’s been shown to lead to an increased metabolism, lower calorie intake at meals and better weight loss. How much would you pay for that pill? $10 a bottle, $20, $40? How about free?
#1: Light Beer
I love kicking back with a light beer on a hot summer day. But if you’re guzzling 4 or 5 beers—the calories will quickly overflow. If you want to booze it up, the USDA’s recommendations are 1 beer per day for women and two for men. (And no, you can’t save all your drinks for a Saturday night.)
Although they may start out at a reasonable amount of calories (about 100 to 140 per half cup), many people eat WAY more. And when you add toppers like crushed cookies, syrups and other goodies, you sabotage a perfectly calorie-friendly treat. Keep a mindful watch on portions (especially from fro-yo machines) and go light on the toppings.
At just 33 calories each, spring roll wrappers deserve a permanent spot on your weekly menu. The ingredient list couldn’t be simpler: flour, water, salt. You can find gluten-free rice paper wrappers that work incredibly well too. Yes, wrappers make great casings for spring and summer rolls (as highlighted below), but check out all of the other ways you can enjoy them!
Soup and Salad Topping: Shred wrappers or cut into very thin strips. Transfer strips to a bowl and add a little olive oil. Toss to coat. Arrange strips on a baking sheet, in a single layer, and bake at 375 degrees for 4-6 minutes, until golden brown and crisp. Once cool, sprinkle over soups and salads.
Dessert Tostada: Arrange wrappers on a baking sheet, in a single layer, and sprinkle granulated sugar over top. Bake at 375 degrees for 4 minutes, until golden brown and crisp. Arrange on a plate and top with fresh berries and whipped cream.
Huge Ravioli: Top softened wrappers with a mixture of part-skim ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, frozen and thawed chopped spinach, and Italian seasoning. Fold over one side and pinch the edges together to seal. Steam in a colander over simmering water until cheese melts. Serve with pasta sauce and grated parmesan cheese. For toasted ravioli, arrange the filled wrappers on a baking sheet that’s been coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes, until golden brown.
What’s cool and crunchy and delicious all over? Slaws made with cabbage (or broccoli, or kale or any other vegetable you feel like shredding) are one of summer’s great ways to showcase produce. And the side dish doesn’t necessarily have to involve loads of mayo — but used in moderate amounts, the creamy condiment can still be a part of a healthy slaw. Here, Bobby, Guy, and Rachael go without mayonnaise, Ellie combines it with Greek yogurt, and Melissa uses just a tablespoon. Which version is your favorite?
Hold the mayo!
Bobby’s Red Cabbage Slaw (above)
#1: Paleo Diet
This plan recommends you eat like your caveman ancestors, emphasizing lots of fruits, veggies, lean meats and seafood. Dairy and grains aren’t allowed on the plan—omitting two important food groups and numerous important nutrients in your diet. This diet was ranked last by US News and World Report on their list of Best Weight Loss Diets. Their expert panel determined that there is a lack of scientific evidence to show that long-term weight loss can be achieved.
#2: Dukan Diet
Although celebs like Gisele Bundchen and Jennifer Lopez have reportedly followed this diet post-baby to shed pounds, it was ranked second to last by US News and World Report’s Best Weight Loss Diets. This updated version of the Atkins diet eliminated carbs, fruits and veggies (especially during the very strict first phase), while allowing unlimited amounts of lean protein. It’s a very restrictive plan that will have you losing weight rather quickly—actually too quickly according to safety guidelines set up by the National Institutes of Health. The end result: You’ll probably end up regaining your lost weight plus more.
Pay attention when you hit those touristy candy shops this summer: Some treats are better than others.
Red Licorice vs. Black Licorice
WINNER: Red licorice. Many people assume that black licorice root can alleviate health issues. This hasn’t been proven, but eating large quantities of black licorice may be dangerous to people 40 and older because a compound in it has been linked to heart problems, according to the FDA.
Boardwalk Fudge vs. Boardwalk Taffy
WINNER: Boardwalk taffy. A 1-inch square of chocolate fudge has more than double the fat of the equivalent amount of taffy (about seven pieces). Plus, fudge is higher in saturated fat, which can raise cholesterol in the bloodstream and lead to heart problems.
Classic Gummies vs. Sour Gummies
WINNER: Classic gummies. The calorie and sugar counts are almost identical, but studies suggest that sour candy erodes tooth enamel more than other types because it’s more acidic. And because gummies stick to your teeth longer than other sweets, sour ones pose a greater risk of dental damage.
Recommended daily amount of calcium: 34%
#2: Macaroni and 4 Cheeses (above)
There are so many sources of calcium in this cheesy recipe. Top contributors are cheddar cheese, milk, and Monterey Jack, with smaller contributions from the ricotta, enriched pasta, squash and Parmesan.
Recommended daily amount of calcium: 30%