Marks Daily Apple
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Archive for the ‘ Healthy Tastes Great! ’ Category

16 Feb

If I See 1 More Carrot-Cauli-Broccoli Blend, I’ll…

Smart Fuel

You know what I am sick of? Boring vegetable blends! No wonder people don’t eat their vegetables.

Every restaurant, catered buffet and frozen blend seems to feature the same old julienned carrots, pale broccoli chunks and soggy cauliflower (does anyone really, truly love cauliflower?).

Let’s not forget the ubiquitous cucumber slices with bitter skins and the endless selection of pithy, depressing tomatoes.

I refuse to eat boring, soggy, uninspiring vegetables. Why eat broccoli stem chunks when you can stuff yourself with olive oil-drizzled broccolini? Why deal with yet another white onion when you can try out shallots for the same price?

I’m not exactly what you’d call a chef, but fortunately, coming up with meals that taste amazing is incredibly easy if you just expand your idea of what “getting your veggies” means. It’s just about impossible to mess up vegetables.

So try something new this weekend. There are plenty of really flavorful, interesting plants to nosh on in your quest for flat abs and more energy.

Here are a few to try:

Heart of palm

We can’t get enough of this stuff around the Sisson household. You can slice these stalks up like potatoes au gratin and bake them with a little ricotta, goat cheese or cottage cheese for a really indulgent but healthy meal. Heart of palm is almost nonexistent in the calorie department, and provides a lot of fiber. The texture is similar to canned artichoke or bamboo but is far more rich and satisfying. Heart of palm has the perfect amount of chewiness and a mild, salty flavor that makes it perfect for replacing starchy items like potatoes or pasta – and it makes a great snack.

If you’ve tried and failed at tofu, you will love heart of palm.

heartofpalm

Thanks to Chodta for the picture!

Okra

If you’re from the South, you already know (and possibly love) okra. A lot of people hear “okra” and think “slime”. But prepared right, okra is…off the chain. I buy frozen chopped okra, thaw it, and rinse it thoroughly several times. It takes a little work to drain and press the goop away, but what’s left is a vegetable that makes a mean stir fry. I cook okra over a really hot grill to get it a little bit seared for maximum flavor, dryness and crunch. Goes great with chili flavors and hot sauces. Okra is just about the easiest way to lose that belly fat – you can eat an entire bag for fewer calories than a slice of cheese.

okra

Sea vegetables

Seaweed is just the beginning. Look around – health food stores, organic and vegetarian aisles, and ethnic food stores all carry many types of unusual sea vegetables. Some of them are passable, but some are so good I don’t know why anyone continues to suffer through green-white-and-carrot. Experiment. Sea vegetables are nutritionally dense – they’re particularly good for the thyroid and the cardiovascular system.
seaveg

Herbs

All those little packets of fresh herbs? Start buying and eating them. A lot.

Herbs are pretty foolproof. Chop them up and throw them into every recipe for amazing flavor, antioxidants, and vitamins (herbs are really just another type of lettuce, if you think about it). Certain herbs go better with certain meat and vegetable combinations, but you’ll almost never create anything that tastes bad. Basil, rosemary, dill, chives and ready-picked blends are all great.

mint

Thanks to photographer Sarah Williams.

15 Feb

Healthy Tastes Great!

Egg White Omelet

2038 recipe eggs l

Note: you can leave the yolks in for an extra boost of valuable antioxidants, protein, and vitamins. Yolks contain valuable enzymes and co-factors involved in improving mental health, nutrient absorption and cholesterol – yes, you’re reading that right – management. Don’t buy into the “yolks are bad” hype.

2 Feb

Sisson’s Super Bowl Tips

And we were just getting over the carb onslaught of the holidays. The Super Bowl presents a little dilemma for guys (and gals) who are health-minded: how to simultaneously hang with buddies, drink beer, maintain healthy eating habits, not feel like a pig, avoid celery and carrot sticks, and all without spending the entire time manning the kitchen island. It can be done.

Here’s what I plan to make (or enlist the rugrats to make while I mess with all the electronics after suffering through customer service in vain for two hours).

I have a strict 20-minute prep rule for all game day foods, but I also like to eat food that tastes better than greasy pizza, stale chips, and dips that all taste pretty much like flavorless goop.

The following things are really easy to make. They taste great, and you can mess around with seasonings and extras as much as you like without really ruining anything.

Here’s how it works:

Guacamole

Plan on at least one avocado for each guest.
Halve and peel avocados.
Plunk in large bowl.
Mash with utensil.

Add in a few tablespoons of salsa, a teaspoon or so of salt, and juice of one lime or lemon (or a few squirts of ready-to-go lemon juice). Stir.

Result for 5 minutes of effort: completely healthy dip everyone loves, and enough Omega 3′s to write home about.

guac

What to dip into this? Veggies, veggies and more veggies.

Spinach and artichoke dip

Most spinach-and-artichoke recipes are really just mayo and parmesan with a little green stuff thrown in. I do the opposite for a result that tastes just as good but is a lot healthier.

You’ll need:

1 bag of frozen spinach (partially thaw in the microwave for 1 or 2 minutes)

1 bag of frozen artichoke pieces or hearts (thaw these puppies, too)

1 cup of parmesan (any kind, but I like fresh grated)

1 teaspoon of salt (any kind, but I like coarse)

A few tablespoons of olive oil (enough to help mix all the ingredients)

Dump it all into a medium-size glass or metal dish, mix, and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.

Total prep time to get to your mouth: 13 minutes. (Don’t forget to pre-heat that oven.)

For extra flavor: chop up some garlic, or, if you’re really, really lazy, when you’re picking up all your game day groceries, toss a small container of truffle oil or pre-chopped garlic into the cart. Add all you want into the mixture for awesome flavor.

arts

20 minute chili

For 6 guests, you’ll need:

2 pounds of fresh ground beef (I go for organic)

1 big can of chopped tomatoes (fresh is best, but hey, we’re being lazy this weekend)

1 big can of tomato paste

1 big can of chicken or veggie broth (again, organic)

1 or 2 cups of water (just eyeball it until it looks right, remembering that the meat will add juices)

1 chopped onion (you can buy this pre-chopped)

1 can of sliced jalapenos (don’t drain)

Seasonings: I like to add about a teaspoon of paprika, some crushed garlic cloves, a few teaspoons of chili powder, and several dashes of tabasco. You can fool around with different spices – I’ve even heard of some people adding mole sauce and others adding dark chocolate. It’s hard to mess up chili.

Brown the meat (you know how to do this, right? It should take you about 10 minutes). While that’s going on, in a big pot, dump in all the other ingredients. Once the meat is browned, drain it and add it to the mix. Cook the whole thing on medium heat for 10 minutes. Stir a few times, turn the heat down to low, and by the time your guests arrive, the chili will be perfect.

This is filling, totally unprocessed, easy to make, and tastes great. Don’t forget bowls, genius.

chili

Garlic lime chicken skewers

This is one of those recipes that is really easy and always impresses guests. They’ll think you’re a rock star in the kitchen…if only they knew. You do need to start this one on Saturday.

Here’s what to do:

Buy a bag of free-range chicken tenderloins or chicken breast pieces. Thaw.

Next step: place pieces in a big dish. Drench with the juice of four or five squeezed limes (lemons are okay, too).

Next step: drench with several tablespoons of olive oil. I never measure.

Next step: sprinkle with a teaspoon or two of salt.

Next step: sprinkle with a handful of chopped garlic (you already bought some pre-chopped at the store)

Next step: enlist your teenager to get in there and mix it all up. Remember, kids love chores.

Next step: Let sit in fridge overnight.

When your guests arrive and complain of starvation, run some skewers through those tenders, grill a few minutes on each side, and serve. Cooking time is about 8 minutes. Depending on how fast your teenager moves, prep time isn’t much longer than that. The result is a high-protein finger food with zero processed junk in it.

chicken

Mango salsa

Another “exotic” recipe that takes a joke of an effort.

You’ll need:

A jar of salsa.

A package of fresh chopped mango (available in most produce sections now for about five bucks. It’s worth it to save the peeling and slicing time).

Ready for this? Mix them together in a bowl.

Time to get to your mouth: about 30 seconds. Salsa is almost negative when it comes to calories, and a little mango is a nice twist that doesn’t add too much sugar.

mangosalsa

If you’re not a total crudite-phobe, you can put out some fruit and veggie platters care of the local deli, too. It takes about 10 seconds to whip up an olive oil and balsamic vinegar dip (bowl, I’d like you to meet olive oil and vinegar).

fruitplatter

Beer

This takes a lot longer than 20 minutes to make, and it’s also not technically healthy (though a guy can always hold out hope), but if you stick to the vegetable and protein based snacks above, a few cold ones will not be a problem.

goodbeer

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