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Best Healthy Recipes of 2016

I guess it’s that time again.  After all the holiday gluttony (and general comfort food craving this time of year), everyone is making resolutions and getting back to the gym and meal planning.

Honestly, I’m not.  I know myself well, and I have to have small, sustainable life choices vs. a diet or life change.  I try to eat healthy (except when I’m traveling) and work out every day (even when I’m traveling), and overall that works for me.  I let 15-20 pounds sneak up on me in late 2014, so I started tracking everything I eat and do in MyFitnessPal and finding healthy recipes I actually *liked*.  And by spring of 2015 I was back to normal and have been able to maintain.

So the good news is that I have a bunch of healthy recipes to re-visit from the last couple years, all now listed in one place for 2017 healthy living ease!

Don’t forget to look at all these great healthy recipes I posted at the beginning of 2015.  There are a ton of yummy make-ahead breakfast options, easy healthy dinners that also make satisfying lunches to pack for work, and (duh) healthy desserts.  Because I don’t believe eating healthy should be sad or boring or a chore.

Main Dishes:

beef-cabbage-stir-fry-pinterest

“Crack” Beef & Cabbage Stir Fry

Sweet and savory and crunchy and super satisfying.  But mostly cabbage, which is both cheap and super healthy (yay colon health!).  This is crazy fast and makes good lunch leftovers as well. [Read more…]

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“Crack” Beef & Cabbage Stir Fry

This was my first “back on the healthy train” recipe since coming back from quite a bit of travel over the past few months—including a week and a half inhaling pastries on the French Riviera.  So I didn’t need normal healthy, I needed SUPER healthy.  A sort of food detox, if you will.

Beef & Cabbage Stir Fry...healthy, easy, yummy

What I didn’t expect was for this to be SUPER yummy as well.

beef-cabbage-stir-fry-green-onions

And cheap and easy.  Fast, cheap, healthy, easy, and yummy is like a unicorn of a recipe.  I mean, it’s no mac and cheese, but it’ll do.

beef-cabbage-stir-fry

This is going into my regular rotation of uber healthy meals.  It’s got a ton of fiber from all the veggies, is surprisingly satiating, and still has just enough protein from the beef.  You could definitely use a whole pound of beef instead of a half-pound (or substitute turkey, chicken, pork, whatever), but I didn’t feel cheated by the amount of meat, and it lets you stretch your meat further.  This was lunch leftovers all week for me, and I didn’t get sick of it, which is a miracle in and of itself. [Read more…]

Souper Jenny’s Hungarian Mushroom Soup

All this cold weather and the snow days we’ve been having have made me crave soup. So I dug out some old Souper Jenny recipes and this guy jumped out at me.

Hungarian Mushroom Soup from Souper Jenny

Souper Jenny is an Atlanta (Buckhead, to be specific) institution. The owner and her staff have been serving healthy, fresh soups, sandwiches, and salads to crowds often backing out the door for over 15 years. A while back a few co-workers and I got to do a cooking class with the head chef, where she walked us through making five of their awesome soups in a couple hours.

Hungarian Mushroom Soup spoonful

When perusing the recipes initially, I was least excited about mushroom soup. So I was shocked when we were tasting everything later and this may have been my favorite—or right up there with the lamb & Guinness stew. The flavors were so much more complex than I expected, the scent was amazing, and the creaminess really hit the spot. It was also super easy, a win in my book. [Read more…]

The Healthy Train…Starting with Breakfast

I don’t know about you guys, but this has been a pretty brutal winter. (I mean, I do know, my mom gives me the weather report nationwide.) I won’t pretend Atlanta’s weather has been worse than, say, New York or the Midwest. It hasn’t. But for us and our very poorly-insulated homes, it’s been tough. Not only has this affected moods and energy, I realized it has also caused a 10+ pound weight creep over the past two months. Cold weather + travel + ice storms + need for comfort food means I haven’t been able to get as much exercise as usual and I’ve defaulted to less healthy (like 3 variations on mac & cheese) and more convenient (I seriously ate my body weight in Chinese like 5 times) options. Plus practically no fruits and veggies. It’s amazing I haven’t succumbed to scurvy.

But no more! There is sun and warmth on the horizon, fruits and veggies will be back in season before you know it, and the fresh air is calling our names! I’m really focusing more on consciously planning my meals and snacks—I’ve slipped into a bad habit of not really eating breakfast over the past few crazy months—and having things on hand to get all the right vitamins and minerals. I’ve switched to organic whole milk (blech, I know, but after reading about how terrible skim milk is, I just can’t anymore; I’d love to find a raw milk resource in the Atlanta area), added some raw honey into my diet, and am trying to avoid GMOs where I can. Which is super hard.

I thought I’d pull together a few of my most favoritest tried-and-true super healthy recipes to have top of mind while planning out my next few weeks, and am sharing here in case you’re in need of inspiration. For breakfast, convenience is key, so it either needs to be made ahead in bulk, or a smoothie I can take to work with me. I rarely cook during the week since I work so much, so making a big meal on Sunday that becomes great leftovers is the focus. And not too expensive on all counts. I’ll post a dinner/lunch/leftovers one separately.

healthy breakfast breads [Read more…]

Quinoa Salad with Butternut Squash & Dried Cranberries

Blah blah blah resolutions blah. Seems like that’s all anyone talks about this time of year. But the fact of the matter is, there’s nothing magical about January in terms of getting healthy. In fact, it’s harder to make a drastic change mid-winter (when, let’s face it, your body is craving sleep and warm comfort food) than to make gradual changes over time that you can actually sustain.

Quinoa Salad with Butternut Squash & Citrus Honey Dressing

For me, the two major things are exercising almost every day and eating healthy at home since my job often entails lots of eating out, drinking, and treats. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned about myself, it’s that I’m not going to stick with a diet that I don’t enjoy. That’s why one of my big focuses in the past year has been finding super healthy recipes that I absolutely love.

Quinoa Salad with Butternut Squash & Citrus Honey Dressing closeup

Make a list of the most healthy foods and ingredients you should be eating—superfoods, whole grains, spices, etc.—and then see how you can work them into recipes. Everyone’s list is going to be different. For me, I haven’t found anything involving lentils that I enjoy and brown rice is dry and bland when eaten as leftovers. But conversely I’ve found a lot of quinoa and barley recipes that I like and are great to take to work the next day. I love kale, brussels sprouts, all squashes, okra, and spinach, but there is no recipe or list of healthy benefits that can convince me to eat cucumbers, green peppers, or fresh ginger.

quinoa salad with butternut squash roasted

Once you find ingredients you enjoy, hunt up all sorts of different recipes using them. That’s where this recipe comes in. I’ve found that quinoa salads like this one and my sweet & savory chicken quinoa and quinoa & kale salad with feta & pecans are easy, healthy, filling, and affordable. And that’s quite the combination. [Read more…]

Maple & Citrus Grilled Salmon

I’ll be honest. I was really scared to try grilling fish on my electric grill.

Don’t get me wrong, the grill has been awesome so far (it’s this Char-Broil one in case you’re wondering—I had trouble getting good recommendations). My chicken has been super moist and juicy, veggies have been great (except the grilled romaine, which we won’t speak of ever again), and my hamburgers were juicy and held together really well. But both times I’ve tried to grill steak, it’s been tough and chewy. So I was understandably scared about fish.

maple citrus salmon grilled

See, I luuurrrrve fish. Particularly more “fishy” fish (as my co-worker Lucy would say) like salmon. But dry fish? Blech. I want moist, flaky fish. I’ve tried making salmon in the oven in the past but haven’t had a ton of success getting it to the right consistency. But this grilled salmon was a REVELATION.

Maple Citrus Salmon

My mom and I made this a couple days after my surgery, so simplicity was key. I was mostly useless, and cooking in someone else’s kitchen is always hard so we wanted to keep it easy on her. I found this delicious-sounding marinade/glaze on Pinterest and, since I had all the ingredients on-hand, decided it was the perfect thing to try.

We were both so shocked by how good it was, how perfect the consistency was, and just how easy the recipe was. I was really sad that we only had two tiny fillets, because I would have DESTROYED, like, an entire salmon if it’d been available. Mmmmm, salmon. [Read more…]

Sweet Potato, Red Pepper, & Kale Frittata with Goat Cheese

I’ve mentioned how much I rely on frittatas to have a real meal when I haven’t really planned ahead. Lately, with all the house drama and packing and such, I seem to be constantly caught off-guard when it comes to meals. A lot of the time, I’ll just throw together a pasta with whatever’s on-hand, but frittatas are actually a healthier, protein-packed option.

sweet potato red pepper frittata finished closeup

I’ve already shared what is still my current favorite, the spinach frittata with sweet potato hash crust (and goat cheese). So you may be sensing a theme here. I used the same idea of scallions and sweet potatoes to create a delicious, almost caramelized crust, but made a few changes based on what I had in my fridge. I still used the goat cheese, but added kale instead of spinach and threw in a red bell pepper I’d bought for no good reason. Plus, I pre-baked the sweet potatoes in the microwave to cut down on cooking time—cut it almost in half.

sweet potato red pepper frittata assembled

As long as you use basic frittata proportions (for me, that’s 8 eggs and a 1/2 cup of milk), you can basically add anything you want based on what’s in season or in your fridge—zucchini, tomatoes, corn, peppers, greens, any kind of cheese, fresh herbs, potatoes. Go crazy with combinations! [Read more…]

Souper Jenny’s Broccoli Corn Chowder

A few weeks ago, my co-workers and I got to do a cooking class at Souper Jenny with one of our media reps. It was a fun night of drinking wine, asking the chef questions, and stuffing ourselves full of five different glorious soups (plus some awesome chicken salad). Souper Jenny is one of those Atlanta institutions that anyone who has ever lived or worked near Buckhead knows about, but basically they’re all about fresh, healthy soups, salads, and sandwiches (with many vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free choices too). I had only been once before, so all the recipes were new to me. When it came time to try one on my own, I knew what I’d try first.

broccoli corn chowder finished

As I’ve discussed here many a time, soup is not something I usually consider a meal in its own right. This soup is definitely an exception, since all the veggies plus the bacon make it quite hearty. I paired it with maple-cranberry cornbread (so moist!) for a lovely cold Sunday night dinner.

broccoli corn chowder bacon cooked

Plus, BACON. Who doesn’t love bacon??

Let’s begin, shall we? [Read more…]

The Pinterest hit known as “Man Pleasing” Chicken

I am not a mustard person, which is why I had pinned this recipe quite some time ago but have been finding reasons to put off trying it. But I had company coming over and needed a quick, easy dinner I could throw together.

man pleasing chicken finished closeup

I was really worried that the three main ingredients—dijon mustard, maple syrup, and a sweeter vinegar—would just make this way too intense, all the flavors fighting each other. But I was pleasantly surprised by how the flavors actually kind of balanced each other out, making the end result sweet, tangy, and with just enough bite to keep your interested.

man pleasing chicken finished

The other nice flavor component was the rosemary. If you don’t have it the recipe is still great, but the fresh rosemary just adds another great layer of flavor with the mustard-maple sauce.
[Read more…]

Roasted Cauliflower & Aged White Cheddar Soup

Here’s the thing anyone who knows me well (particularly my co-workers) can tell you: I love soup, but I refuse to acknowledge it as a real, standalone meal. Soup is delicious, but it is a PRELUDE to a meal. A pre-meal.

So what happens is that I see all these amazing soup recipes on Pinterest and pin the heck out of them, then they just sit there because I don’t want to go through the trouble of making both a soup and a real entree. And a dessert, because let’s face it, dessert is an important part of any home-cooked meal.

cauliflower aged cheddar soup finished

cauliflower aged cheddar soup cauliflower florets closeup

This soup, however, was surprisingly hearty and stayed with me for quite a while. I think I had other food with it initially, but I ate the leftovers by themselves and they made several great meals. The cheese added a great flavor (and saltiness, because sometimes vegetable soups can be very bland), but the cauliflower itself was the star. [Read more…]

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