Written on August 29, 2014 at 6:38 pm , by Samantha Shelton
It’s the unofficial bon voyage to summer and one of the final days off from work before hunkering down for the colder months. Invite your friends over, crank up the music and follow these tips to making the food at your bash the star of the show—and something to Instagram for weeks after.
Shop locally. Sure, a grocery store can be easier, but visiting the local farmer’s market is a guarantee for getting fresh, vibrant ingredients that’ll really make your guests’ taste buds (and Insta photos) pop. “The produce you’re going to get is from local farmers, which means it can be picked when it’s riper and ready because it’s not being shipped across the country,” says Gail Simmons, culinary expert and judge on Top Chef Duels. And the timing of Labor Day doesn’t get much better, thanks to the transition of seasons. “It’s the ultimate time to buy fresh fruits and vegetables; it’s when there are so many incredible things available, from the end-of-summer stone fruits to the early-fall apples.”
Chat up the sellers. Remember, the people you’re buying from at the farmer’s markets grew the products you’re after. Not only are they the prime source of information on how it was grown and which ones are the best to take home, but Simmons says they often have tons of ideas on how to cook with it, too. Hit them up when you’re lacking inspiration (or check out the recipes Simmons created below).
Douse your healthy eats with flavor. Many fruits and veggies have strong, robust flavors on their own, but adding an extra twist never hurt anyone. To give your guests a fresh spin on a summer salad—and an antioxidant boost—use tea. Simmons is a fan of the Pure Leaf brand because it’s brewed directly from tea leaves, and often uses it as a dressing for the summer salad recipe below. Otherwise, she suggests incorporating tea into meat marinades (try ginger and garlic brushed onto duck for a Chinese flavor palate) or using as a cocktail mixer with fresh fruits like watermelons and berries.
Turn off the oven. “The great thing about this time of year is that there’s so much great stuff available and you don’t have to do a lot of cooking to make it taste great,” says Simmons. For a no-cook option, toss a tomato salad with fresh herbs (think basil and mint), crumbled feta cheese, a drizzle of olive oil and salt to taste. Simmons also recommends firing up the grill for dessert—this how-to for peaches is a winner. Instead of a balsamic reduction, dilute honey with a little bit of Pure Leaf ice tea and whisk together to make the perfect caramel that you can drizzle over the fruit solo or pair with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Make a signature cocktail. Not only will you not have to play bartender all night, but friends will remember that one tasty drink you introduced them to long after the party is over. Make a big batch of whatever you’d like, or give Simmons’ recipes below a whirl.
Written on August 29, 2014 at 9:38 am , by Bethany Cianciolo
When the fittest woman on earth tells you not to weigh yourself, you should probably listen.
Camille Leblanc-Bazinet, 25, nabbed the title last month after her killer performance during the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games. She’s 125 pounds of pure muscle and believes—just like us—that strength is what’s sexy. Yeah. We’re already obsessed with her.
“For me, beauty is confidence, achieving your goal and becoming a better person,” she says. “I had a dark moment where I fell into being anorexic, and in my head, beauty was being as skinny as you could be. Now I see women who are successful because they work hard and they dedicate themselves to things that they believe in. In my eyes, those types of people are the most beautiful ones by far.”
But moving out of the “thin” mindset required a total diet transformation. Now, the Canadian beauty eats clean, simple, protein-packed foods that keep her fueled through the grueling CrossFit workouts she does five days a week. Her seven go-to superfoods: kale, sweet potatoes, blueberries, papayas, spinach, organic meat and avocados.
“Our body is like a little machine and I want to know exactly how to fuel it,” she says. For breakfast, she usually has three eggs with kale, strawberries and almond butter, and lunch and dinner are typically a combination of her fave superfoods with the occasional plate of salmon. Sometimes she’ll swap her blueberries for bananas, but you’ll generally find the same grub on her plate. “I like making salads with kale, blueberry, and chicken with some avocado slices.”
Feeling intimidated by her ridiculously clean diet yet? Don’t. The CrossFitter recommends making one small change to your meal plan each day, as going from a high-fat, high-sugar diet to nothing but lean, green plates overnight isn’t realistic. And cheat meals aren’t off limits. Even she allows herself a treat once a week—hello, ice cream!
“I think what people need to understand is I didn’t start as the fittest woman on earth,” she explains. “When I started CrossFit, I started like anyone else. I had to learn how to eat better and change my life habits. I think it’s really just taking one step at a time. So if it’s incorporating more greens into your meal, that’s one step. And then once that happens, you can go to the next one, but it’s a long process. If you can make one better decision every day, that’s already a winning situation.”
Images courtesy of CrossFit, Inc.
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Written on August 1, 2014 at 10:27 am , by FITNESS Intern
Written by Macklin Stern, editorial intern
Brace yourselves, FITNESS readers: A global kale shortage may be coming.
Are you still breathing?
Apparently kale is a lot more popular now than it was in 2012 (310 percent more popular, according to recent research from GrubHub), meaning our favorite leafy green may not be as readily available in the near future.
But don’t worry. We’re taking the necessary precautions to help our fellow green freaks cope. We’ve even placed “Kale missing; Reward: happiness and health” signs all over Manhattan (just kidding—though we would if it would help).
We also turned to nutrition expert Leslie Bonci, M.P.H., R.D., FITNESS advisory board member, to give us the scoop on some alternative green superfoods that provide similar benefits to kale. All are packed with Vitamin K, which promotes bone health; zeaxanthin and lutein, which are vital for eye health; and iron, which helps carry oxygen throughout the body. And because they’re so good for you (and so low-cal), Bonci suggests eating a cup of these raw veggies each day (or 1/3 cup cooked). Get ready to fill that crisper!
Collard greens: Sauté some onions, toss in a little curry, add a few golden raisins, and you’ve got your next mouth-watering way to gnaw on these babies. “It provides a sweetness that counteracts the natural bitterness of this green,” explains Bonci.
Mustard greens: Into eggs? Try some mustard green frittatas. “I usually take a bunch of different vegetables and egg to hold it together, and then spread about 1/3-cup of store-bought bruschetta sauce over the top,” she says.
Turnip greens: ”You can take on a Middle Eastern dish, like Sleek (a dish typically full of kale, bulgar wheat and black-eyed peas), but instead of making it with kale, add turnip greens,” she says. “You can sauté it in olive oil, then add in the traditional ingredients. It’s wonderful.”
Spinach: Sprinkle on some lemon olive oil or orange olive oil to bring out the flavor, recommends Bonci. “Doing this won’t bring back those images that people have of slimy spinach in the cafeteria, which is why most people don’t eat it,” she says. Yep, we remember.
Swiss chard: Throw some in a skillet and add a little lemon zest to amp up the “yum” factor, explains Bonci. Then you can use it to build your favorite lunch salad. Easy peasy.
If you do manage to get your hands on some kale and need an extra crunch, learn how to make some scrumptious kale chips. No need for greasy potato chips here.
Photo by Lisa Shin
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Written on July 22, 2014 at 10:00 am , by Colleen Travers
We get all hyped up over the green stuff as much as the next gal, but we’ll admit it – those tiny bottles can make a big dent in our wallets. That’s why we’re pumped about the founders of Pressed Juicery‘s new book (on sale today!), Juice: Recipes for Juicing, Cleansing and Living Well. In addition to dishing out how juicing can have a place in a healthy diet, they’ve shared over 70 recipes from the shop’s most popular bottles. Below, a sneak peek into the book with three juice recipes you’ll be dying to make today. The best part? Each recipe is surprisingly simple (some require a juicer, others just steep and sip) – with ingredients you most likely already have in your kitchen. Cheers!
Rich in vitamins C , K, and A, broccoli also has high levels of B vitamins and the minerals manganese and potassium. Broccoli is part of the cruciferous family, which is renowned for a laundry list of health benefits, most notably its anticancer properties. It also contains a key component that aids in hormone balance, specifically targeting harmful xenoestrogens found in substances such as plastics and conventional meat, dairy, and soy. Finally, it is a powerful anti-inflammatory and detoxifying agent, and it promotes colon and cardiovascular health. This recipe also includes alfalfa sprouts. We love sprouts for their concentrated vitamin content and increased enzyme count.
MAKES 1 TO 2 (8-OUNCE) SERVINGS
- Small handful of alfalfa sprouts
- 1 bunch watercress
- 6 sprigs fresh parsley
- 3 kale leaves
- 3 or 4 florets broccoli, to taste
- 1 Fuji apple
Lemon Ginger Mint Water
Crush the ginger and mint together with a mortar and pestle or a fork. Combine with the water and lemon slices and allow the mixture to steep for at least 45 minutes before drinking.
MAKES 2 (16-OUNCE) SERVINGS
- 3-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled
- 5 sprigs fresh mint
- 4 cups water
- 1⁄2 lemon, sliced
Vanilla Almond Milk
This is one of our most popular menu items. Remember to blend the almonds and water (see below on a quick how-to). Once the consistency is smooth, add the rest of the ingredients and blend again until smooth, then strain.
MAKES ABOUT 2 (8-OUNCE) SERVINGS
- 1 cup raw, organic almonds
- 2 cups purified water
- 1⁄2 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
- Seeds from 1⁄2 fresh vanilla bean, or 1⁄2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 date, pitted (optional)
HOW TO BLEND ALMONDS
For Soaking the Nuts:
- 2 cups of water for every 1/2 cup of almonds
For Blending the Nut Milk
- 2 cups of water to every 1 cup of almonds
Nut Milk Yields
- 1 cup of almonds and 2 cups water = 2 cups of almond milk
- 2 cups of almonds and 4 cups of water = 2 cups of almond milk
Add the desired about of almonds to a container with the required amount of purified water for soaking. Cover and soak for 1 to 2 days, then drain the almonds, rinse them with fresh water, and drain again. Place the soaked almonds in your blender with the required amount of purified water. Pulse the blender at low speed, and then increase the speed to the highest setting and blend until smooth, about 2 minutes. You know you’re on the right track when the almonds have formed a fine meal and the water is cloudy and white. (If you’re using a food processor, this step will take about twice as long.) Once the almonds and water are smooth, add sweeteners or other flavorings.
Reprinted with permission from Juice by Carly de Castro, Hedi Gores & Hayden Slater (Ten Speed Press, © 2014).
More from FITNESS: How to Juice for Your Health
Written on July 2, 2014 at 10:01 am , by Bethany Cianciolo
Slurping on cocktails and enjoying some mouth-watering grub with friends and family underneath the fireworks are our Independence Day musts. Throw in some bikini-approved nutrition facts and you’ve got a “flawless” Fourth of July bash. (We’re looking at you, Beyoncé.) We rounded up some super easy recipes that we know your taste buds will love and your body will appreciate, so go ahead and dig in.
Fourth of July Adult Snow Cone
Calories: 188 per serving
- 1 cup Clos du Bois Rouge
- 1 cup sugar
Mix 1 cup of Clos du Bois Rouge with 1 cup of sugar in a small saucepan over heat until the sugar has dissolved. Cool completely before pouring on crushed ice (your snow cone).
Recipe courtesy of Jung Lee
Photo courtesy of Clos du Bois Winery
Red Berry Sangria
Calories: 150 per serving
- 1 ounce CÎROC Red Berry
- 1 ounce rose wine
- 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 ounce simple syrup
- 2 ounces berry tea
Combine all ingredients and stir over ice in wine glass.
Recipe courtesy of CÎROC
Written on June 27, 2014 at 9:50 am , by Bethany Cianciolo
Jessica Alba loves salt.
Did that catch you by surprise? We about fell out of our chairs when she said it during a private cooking class last week with Chef Anthony Sasso of New York’s Casa Mono restaurant, but then again, it just means she’s up-to-date on her nutrition news. Maybe she reads FITNESS…
So why were we cooking with Alba? As the new brand ambassador for Zico Coconut Water’s “Crack Life Open” campaign, the actress helped Sasso create various dishes that can all be made using coconut water: a chicken marinade, salad dressing, ice pops, or even chocolate cake. Umm, yum!
Alba is no stranger to flavor (her weaknesses: cheese, crackers, wine, French bread, and all things Mexican—we can totally relate, girlfriend), but she knows what foods to stay away from. “I try to eat as much fresh and natural food as possible,” she says. “I don’t eat a whole lot of processed food or packaged food.”
Well, that explains her perfect bod. She loves kale and butter lettuce, and keeps an abundant supply of fruits and veggies at home for hubby Cash Warren and daughters Honor, 6, and Haven, 2. (When she’s on the go, it’s dried fruit and nuts.) She even has a hanging felt wall that she uses to maintain her herb garden. Amazing!
“We use bananas a lot in the house,” she says. “We use apples, strawberries, and watermelon, but then it also depends on what’s in season. We get a monthly delivery of organic fruits and vegetables and it’s whatever is in our box that we just use.”
Her secret to dishing up the perfect kale salad? “Massaging the kale was something that changed my life,” she says. “I tried to make it so many times at home and it’s just not the same when you don’t.”
Try it yourself: mix ¼ cup of Zico Coconut Water with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, a teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of black pepper to get the dressing. Knead the kale with your hands into the dressing until the kale becomes soft. Sweeten it up with some peach, plum, and nectarine slices, toss in some blackberries and almonds, and violà! You have a refreshing summer salad with dressing you didn’t just grab off the shelf, and are one step closer to following a Jessica Alba-approved diet. Sign us up!
Photo courtesy of ZICO Premium Coconut Water
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Written on June 9, 2014 at 10:18 am , by FITNESS Intern
Written by Anna Hecht, editorial intern
Dining out, while following a balanced diet, is hardly ever as simple as it seems—especially when the seemingly “healthy” restaurants have packed their meals with artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors and preservatives. So we couldn’t help but give three major cheers when Panera Bread announced that it will swear off all artificial ingredients and preservatives by 2016.
Founded on the belief that “quick food could also be quality food,” Panera plans to further its mission by retiring artificial ingredients, such as MSG and artificial trans fats. Instead, the company has built a comprehensive plan that will have all locations using clean ingredients, along with a transparent menu. Translation: customers are gaining more control over what they eat, even when they’re not cooking it themselves. Everybody now: big sigh of relief!
So what specific changes can you expect when you visit a Panera? First, all of those delish dressings and sauces can be served guilt-free, because there won’t be any artificial preservatives. And the bakery items (mmm…bear claws)—actually, everything on the menu—will no longer contain high-fructose corn syrup, and natural alternatives will replace artificial coloring in icing. Panera is even looking into different options for traditional deli meats, since those often have nitrites and artificial preservatives hanging around.
The problem with all of these artificial ingredients lies in what Panera is calling “a broken food system.” Even though many of us are health-conscious, the status quo over the past few decades has been to include artificial additives in pretty much everything—from snacks to fast foods and pantry ingredients. While choosing foods wisely can be somewhat of a chore, efforts like this will become a restaurant trend, improving the dining-out experience for those of us who are constantly on the go. Fingers crossed!
Photo courtesy of Panera
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Written on May 26, 2014 at 9:37 am , by Guest Blogger
By Dawn Jackson Blatner, R.D.
It’s the final week of National Salad Month and I’m super pumped about sharing this week’s post. All month long I’ve posted smoothie and salad recipes and now I’m putting it all together in one awesome meal plan. I’ve personally tested it and I love how simple, filling and nourishing it is!
Drumroll please….meet the “Eat More Salad! 5-Day Meal Plan.”
This plan has a complete grocery list to make shopping simple, an FAQ section and 5 days of menus. Each day has 3 meals + 2 snacks, totaling 1,400 calories, which is enough to fuel an active lifestyle without weighing you down. Oh, and this plan is super-charged with nutrition—each day averages more than 7 cups of vegetables!
Hopefully my posts have inspired you to eat salad more creatively all through the year. If you are looking for even more ideas, DOLE Salads’ online recipe libraryoffers more fun ways to enjoy your greens.
TAKE ACTION: Click here to get your Eat More Salad! 5-Day Meal Plan. I hope you love it as much as I do!
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Written on December 20, 2013 at 9:16 am , by mohrresults
We are questioned all the time about the healthiest this or the best that. Women in particular are looking for smart, convenient options to feed themselves and their kids. And, sure, we all know carrot sticks and hummus can be a smart, healthy snack, but there are other options that may come as a surprise…and others that you’d think would have a big red X over them, but don’t.
Nuts. They’re tricky because they are high in fat and calories compared to other munch-worthy foods. To make sure you don’t get fooled, watch your quantity. Two preliminary behavioral nutrition studies from Eastern Illinois University found that you may be able fool yourself into feeling full by watching what you eat—literally. In one experiment, empty pistachio shells may have helped curb calories by acting as a “visual cue” of how many the subjects had eaten. Subjects in this study who left pistachio shells on their desk reduced their calorie consumption by 18 percent, compared to those who routinely removed shells throughout the day. You might look like a bit of a hoarder at your desk, but whatever works, right? Either way, we still recommend clearing it all off before heading home.
Guacamole. Like nuts, this treat from avocados is high in fat, but a super healthy one that’s good for your bod. It’s easy to DIY: all you need is some avocado, a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lime juice. But if the thought intimidates you, Wholly Guacamole makes theirs out of nothing but pure ingredients. Try it out as a dip for veggies, or as a sandwich topper to use in place of mayo.
Frozen Meals. These can be healthy? Yep. In an ideal world, we’d all have beautifully balanced meals on the table each night like Mrs. Cleaver. But it’s 2013 and that’s not always realistic. So when you are faced with choosing a frozen meal options, look for one that’s not loaded with preservatives and sodium, and has a small ingredient list. LYFE Kitchen has a new line of tasty meals, and Amy’s Kitchen and Kashi have quality options. Again, this isn’t us giving you permission to pop one of these in the microwave every week, but are they good to have on hand in a pinch? For sure.
Fast Food. We’ve told you it’s possible to do drive-thru the right way, and we’ll say it again, in case you need a gentle reminder. The key is making the best decisions with what’s available. Subway does a good job of making that easy with the variety of menu items you’re offered, particularly when compared to many other burger or fried chicken joints. I prefer the oven roasted chicken and add spinach, tomato and olive oil. I get the protein I’m looking for, yet it’s not fried like foods you’d find at most other quick-service restaurants.
Written on October 11, 2013 at 1:11 pm , by FITNESS Intern
Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern
Get ready to twirl that fork—it’s National Pasta Month! One of our fave comfort foods has gotten a bad rap over the years due to its heavy carb count and fat-laden toppings, but a single half-cup serving of pasta actually comes in roughly 100 calories—not so bad. It’s naturally low in fat, contains no salt or cholesterol, and serves as a good source of folic acid and iron. In light of all that, we’re here to celebrate National Pasta Month with Top Chef New York’s Fabio Viviani. He dished on his favorite healthy ways to integrate this favorite comfort food into our meals all October long.
When it comes to cooking with pasta, simple is better, says Viviani, and everyone should try making it from scratch at least once—it’s surprisingly easy and tastes far better than its boxed counterpart. Homemade pasta’s simple ingredient list—egg, flour and water—transforms into a simple dinner within minutes. You can even steal Viviani’s own Perfect Pasta recipe here.
“Fettuccini is the easiest pasta to make,” he says. Pulse eggs, flour and water in a food processor with a blade attachment for 45 seconds. Take another two minutes to roll it, and that’s it! “Just spice it up with olive oil and Parmesan cheese. It’s one of the easiest meals and one of the most delicious.”
The real trick when it comes to pasta is portion control. We all know what happens when we sit down to a huge plate full of our favorite farfalle and just dig in. But Chef Viviani has two ways of measuring spaghetti and penne to prevent that oh-so-common carb overload: “The perfect portion of dry spaghetti for an adult is the diameter of a quarter, and for dry penne, a good portion is whatever you can hold in the palm of your hand.”
Here are some other helpful—and healthy—pasta cooking tips from Chef Viviani:
Cook pasta without water. Cook it straight in the sauce from start to finish because it will absorb much more flavor. Plus, you avoid overcooking it.
“Al dente” is easier to digest. Overcooked pasta absorbs way more water, which is why it feels heavy in your stomach and takes the body longer to process.
Adjust those ingredients. For more nutrient-dense pasta, trade one egg yolk for two additional egg whites, and replace white flour with a whole-wheat version. Add water as necessary.
When it comes to the sauce, lose the salt and grab the spices. Chef Viviani likes to use paprika, saffron, black pepper and chili flakes to really zest up the flavor without adding salt or calories.
Avoid oil until the end. Instead of using extra virgin olive oil in the cooking process, add a little drizzle on top of it at the end to reap its nutritional benefits without overdoing it.
Never eat leftover pasta as is. Traditional Italians refuse to reheat and eat leftover pasta the next day because it’s overcooked. Try tossing it into a soup or using it as an ingredient in a new recipe instead.
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