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Spice Up Healthy Cooking (Fast!) with Food Network’s Robin Miller

Written on October 15, 2013 at 10:47 am , by

Don’t have enough time to make quick fix meals? “Just try one thing and see how it goes,” Robin says. Are you up to the challenge? You got it!

Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern

Healthy cooking becomes a chore when it involves extensive ingredient lists, advanced preparation and lengthy cooking times. Lucky for us, Food Network’s Robin Miller has made it her mission to help us simplify the process so we can spend more time enjoying our food with the people we love most. Her latest book, Robin Takes 5 for Busy Families, offers a wide variety of 5-ingredient recipes for breakfast, lunch, snacks and gluten-free dishes that taste gourmet with little work required on your end. During a recent visit to New York City, Robin dished how she keeps every meal quick, healthy and delicious so pull up a seat and dig into this!

What inspired your career in educating others on how to make quick and healthy meals for themselves and their families?

My kids, to put it simply. Before kids, I had all morning or all afternoon to deglaze, caramelize, test recipes and play in the kitchen. After kids, I didn’t have that amount of time, but I still wanted those flavors. It was my goal to create delicious meals that I can enjoy with my family in minimal time with minimal ingredients. I didn’t want to sacrifice flavor, but I wanted to get to the table faster and then spend more time there.

What do you find to be the greatest challenge with quick and healthy cooking?

I can’t start making dinner at 6 o’clock at night, chopping the onions and the mushrooms and the carrots, or deciding what to cook. So I like to plan ahead. I don’t do a week’s worth of meals on Saturday, but I’ll say in the morning, “What can I do today that’s going to make tonight easier?” And I find that that’s other people’s struggle, too, finding time in their head to prep ahead so that they can make meal time easier during the week. I like meal time to almost be assemble and serve, not start from scratch and wait.

Now that summer is over, how do you cope with the more limited selection of fresh fall and winter produce in your cooking?

I still feel like there are plenty of delicious produce items that are available throughout the fall and winter. We’re getting into grapefruits and oranges and other really nutritious fruits. The acorn squash, butternut squash and spaghetti squash are phenomenal. They’re loaded with nutrients and just scream fall. Also, frozen vegetables and fruits that don’t have any sugar or butter added and they are quickly frozen at the peak of their ripeness, which is at the peak of their nutrient value. So you should never feel guilty about going down the frozen vegetable and fruit aisle and loading up on that stuff too. I have plenty in my freezer, because I like to add them to soups and stews. They have all the nutrients I would hope to get from a farmer’s market or something I just got at the grocery store. They’re so convenient—always there in your freezer and ready to go.

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Fit Blogger We Love: Running to the Kitchen

Written on March 21, 2013 at 1:04 pm , by

 

Gina zeroes in on her CrossFit workouts to drum up a good dose of sweat.

After a tough workout, the first place we tend to head isn’t the shower, but the kitchen – gotta squeeze in that recovery fuel within a half hour! As someone who loves food just as much as we do, it’s safe to say Gina of Running to the Kitchen does the same thing. After all, it’s in her blog name! This CrossFit junkie makes us drool with all of her beautiful recipe images, and she’ll make you do the same. Go ahead and check it out – we bet you can’t prove us wrong.

My favorite way to work out: CrossFit! I know, I know, it’s all the rage right now and that’s a totally predictable answer, but I started CrossFit when it opened in my town last July and have been hooked ever since. It’s efficient, effective (hello, muscles I’ve never seen before) and an absolute blast. I think every box (read: gym) has  different vibe, but something that seems pretty consistent across the board is the rapport among members. It’s not only my workout for the day, but a time I get to hang out with like-minded people and have fun. An hour of endorphins pumping, music blasting and people cheering each other on beats any other workout I can think of.

On my fit life list: A strict unassisted pull-up. No marathons, no triathlons. Just one darn pull-up without a band or kipping.

My “I Did It” moment: Finishing my first half-marathon in less than two hours. 2010 was a year of a lot of change for me. I lost 20 pounds, revamped the way I ate (slowly) and started running. Having played sports all my life as a kid, running was always something I was “forced” to do, not a sport I enjoyed. When I decided to pick it up as an adult in an effort to live a healthier lifestyle, I had no idea I’d grow to love it as much as I do. What started as a little competitive bet with myself to run my first 5K ended with my first half-marathon seven months later. Finishing it in under two hours, when I couldn’t even run one mile eight months prior, was pretty awesome.

I’m happiest when I’m: Doing anything with food. Eating it, cooking it, photographing it – anything. As cliche as it may sound, food is definitely my life passion. I contemplated going to culinary school in my mid-twenties, and while that didn’t actually happen, my blog has become the perfect creative outlet for that passion.

Olympic sport I’d love to try: While I think I’d be horrendous at it, I would pick gymnastics! Considering I can stay in an unassisted handstand for about three seconds, at best, and still haven’t come close to mastering the muscle-up in CrossFit (both gymnastic-type skills), it would be interesting.

Do you have a favorite fit blogger you want us to highlight? Leave a comment below or email blog@fitnessmagazine.com

Fit Links: 6 Must-Do Office Stretches and a Delicious Fall Dessert

Written on October 5, 2012 at 12:58 pm , by

We found a peanut butter cup recipe that isn’t just shaped like a pumpkin—it’s filled with some too! (Photo by Amy Haskell)

This week’s fit links from around the web:

No More Bland Diet Food! 5 Low-Fat Flavor Boosters

Written on June 9, 2011 at 9:00 am , by

lemon slices stacked

Photo by Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The remedy for the healthy-but-boring dilemma is easy: Stock your pantry with a few strategic items that consistently bring a little “spark” to your cooking without adding significant cost or calories. Start with great basic ingredients, prepare them simply, and then add a punch of flavor to the dish.

Add flavor without all the fat by trying these five ingredients:

1. Lemon Juice
Squeeze half a lemon (just 6 calories per serving) over just about anything, and you’ll get a burst of flavor that’s bright and expressive. Here are some ideas:

  • Toss a bowlful of Bibb or butter head lettuce with lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper, and you have a fantastic alternative to bottled salad dressing.
  • Spritz lemon juice over steamed, grilled or sautéed green vegetables of any kind: broccoli, snap peas, fresh spinach, asparagus, green beans, zucchini. For even brighter flavor, grate the rind of half a lemon using a microplane or zester, and add that to the dish. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add lemon juice to marinade for chicken; when cooked, it will create a more tender and juicy dish. Squeeze lemon juice over a grilled steak.
  • Make a compound butter: Combine 1 stick of salted butter (softened at room temperature) with the zest of 1 lemon and 2 Tbsp. of finely minced parsley. Wrap in waxed paper; place in a zip-top bag and store in the freezer. Use this to sauté vegetables or to top grilled steak or fish; a little bit (35 calories per tablespoon) goes a long way—and adds a ton of flavor.

2. Garlic
Sure, you know about garlic. But here’s an insider technique that really brings out garlic’s flavor: Place a large unpeeled clove on a cutting board; place the blade of a chef’s knife flat to cover the garlic, and hit it sharply with your palm. This makes it easy to remove the papery skin. Trim off the root end and remove any green sprout inside. Hold the knife at about a 45-degree angle to the cutting board, and firmly draw the blade across the smashed garlic repeatedly, creating a paste. If your recipe calls for salt, then sprinkle some on the garlic as you work; the salt is abrasive and helps mash the garlic. Add this paste to salad dressing, marinade or a sauté pan instead of using chopped garlic.

3. Pepper
Think beyond basic black pepper and try pimenton, cayenne and red pepper flakes for a new range of flavors. Pepper is essentially calorie-free and doesn’t carry the health risks that salt (sodium) does. Try these varieties:

  • Pimenton is a smoked Spanish paprika that adds a spicy, smoky taste that’s hot (but still modest) and deeply flavored. Pimenton is fantastic on vegetables and wonderful on grilled meats.
  • Cayenne can pack a lot of heat, and the fresher it is, the hotter.  Add a pinch, then taste and see if the dish can take more heat.
  • Red pepper flakes aren’t just pizza toppers; they’re great in spaghetti sauce, as well. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes along with garlic when you sauté any vegetable, particularly if you’re going for an Italian flavor. You can also add a pinch to any marinade for some extra spice.

Keep reading for the last two low-fat flavor boosters!

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