Remember when pomegranate juice hit the shelves along with a lot of marketing hype about its super powers? While pomegranate juice does have laudable health benefits (it might help quell the growth of prostate cancer, prevent heart disease and improve memory), eating pomegranate arils may be even better. (FYI on the lingo: Arils are the seeds encapsulated by jewel-like juice sacs.) In fact, for all fruits and vegetables, getting the whole form is usually better than the juice, as whole fruits are packaged in perfect portions.
They’re rich in health-promoting flavanols. Flavanols are plant compounds that give pomegranate juice and the whole fruit most of its most-promising health benefits (see above: cancer and heart disease prevention, memory).
They take a long time to eat. Consider grapes: They are big, plump, sweet and easy to eat. You can down a couple cups of grapes (200 calories) without even realizing it. Pomegranates, on the other hand, make you work for those arils within. And the arils themselves contain seeds that require chewing.
Fiber! A half cup of pomegranate arils gives you 4 grams of fiber. Eating enough fiber is important for several aspects of your health: It makes you feel full, which can help keep your calorie intake in check, it can lower your cholesterol and it prevents your blood sugar from spiking. Women should get at least 25 grams per day; men need at least 38 grams.
They’re a good source of vitamins and minerals. Pomegranates are a good source of vitamins C and K, which support supple skin and strong bones, respectively. They also have a smattering of numerous other vitamins and minerals, making them an excellent addition to a healthy diet.
Celebrate the season with holiday fare that will make your guests feel good, not stuffed. These bites are perfect for passing around a cocktail party and are so enticing, revelers won’t even realize they’re on the lighter side.
Fresh Ricotta Crostini: Wow your guests with this made-from-scratch fresh ricotta.
Smoky Spiced Pepitas: Smoked paprika gives these toasted pumpkin seeds just the right earthy note.
Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Dip: Sweet-tart pomegranate molasses and rich walnuts make this a wonderfully flavorful dip.
Stuffed Mushrooms: Giada De Laurentiis’ recipe for stuffed mushrooms calls for heart-healthy olive oil, rather than butter.
Prosciutto Rolls with Asparagus and Arugula: This is a great way to get greens on the table at your holiday party in slightly more sneaky fashion. Or try the perennial favorite: Prosciutto-Wrapped Figs.
Shrimp Cocktail: You can’t go wrong with shrimp cocktail; the simple, classic app is always a hit.
When it’s dinner and you need to put food on the table, it can be tempting to just phone in an order from a favorite nearby restaurant. But lots of take-out food is rife with too much salt, sugar and oil — and not enough vegetables! The truth is, many of your favorite take-out meals can be made healthfully and just as quickly (most in under 30 minutes, which is faster than it takes to get delivery!)
Here are 17 recipes to try, no matter what you’re craving:
Continue Reading Healthier Take-Out Ideas
I’m all for eating with the seasons, but by the time it gets to March (at least in the Northeast, where I live)…there is virtually nothing fresh. Storage crops, like root vegetables and apples are no longer exciting and it’ll still be a couple months before green pea shoots and tender lettuce appear in the farmer’s market. That’s probably why this month has officially been dubbed Frozen Food Month. Before you dig into the abyss of your freezer, know that the secret to using frozen vegetables is to incorporate them into meals, rather than to just steam them as a stand-alone side. Here are a few ways to embrace frozen foods for tasty meals.
Peas: This has to be the most versatile frozen food — the one that makes you wonder if fresh peas are even worth the trouble of shelling them. One easy way to use them is in a quick rice pilaf: saute an onion, add rice and peas and broth or water and you have a perked-up side. Alternatives include a “fresh” pea soup or a surprisingly easy, yet elegant dish of peas with shallots and pancetta (pictured above). You could add them to the risotto cakes in this Sunday pot roast. Pistou soup will get you some summer flavor when you need it most: in winter.
Continue Reading Best Frozen Foods to Stock in Your Freezer
Last week I told you why pumpkin mania is a boon to your health (find out the health benefits of pumpkin). Now we get to get down in the kitchen with America’s favorite squash. While it’s plenty easy to find pumpkin recipes that are doused in butter, sugar and cream, I wanted to highlight the health aspects of pumpkin with some of Cooking Channel’s healthiest pumpkin recipes. Here they are in no particular order:
Continue Reading Healthiest Pumpkin Recipes
Meatless Monday is a global movement, a way of life. It’s not a campaign to turn everyone in the world vegetarian or vegan; in fact, many involved are meat-lovers. Eating less meat has been proven to reduce the risk of disease, curb obesity and has important environmental impacts, too. Will you join us in giving up meat, just for one day a week?
Vegetarian burgers have a bad rep, but can actually be quite delicious. You just need the right recipe, and these really simple black bean burgers are it. Mashed black beans help bind the patties while the whole beans bring a hearty texture. Give your burgers a Cajun spin or stick to the classic seasonings. This recipe is a great starting point for a number of fun variations. All you need to know is that it’s easy and tastes good, too.
Continue Reading Meatless Monday: Veggie Burgers
If you’re spending a long, lovely day on the beach, you’re bound to get hungry and thirsty. Rather than wasting money and calories on the less-than-stellar boardwalk fare, why not pack a cooler of goodies to keep you refreshed all day long? Here are some beach-worthy picks to keep you company at the ocean:
Raw veggies: Munch on raw veggies for a satisfying crunch and extra hydration. Cucumber coins, cherry tomatoes and sugar snap peas are great on their own or with a dip like hummus or tzatziki.
Isn’t it great when months of booking hotels, drafting itineraries, hoarding suntan lotion and dusting off beach chairs finally culminates in that magical week of seasonal bliss? Summer vacation is almost here for me, and boy do I need it!
Before skipping town for a week in Cape Cod, I had to do what any upstanding food fan would: clean out the fridge. A little something you might not know about me — I LOVE a good “yeah throw that in” bowl of pasta. Putting an assortment of deliciousness into a bowl with some pasta, sauce and cheese can only, by law of deductive reasoning, end up even more synergistically delicious than at the start. It’s a no-brainer and always a crowd-pleaser.
Speaking of crowd-pleasing, the other beautiful thing about this pasta is how perfect it is for a backyard BBQ. Take advantage of an already active grill by bringing prepped vegetables, cooked pasta and prepared pesto to your next cookout. Throw the vegetables on the grill when you arrive and then toss everything together and serve — instant pasta salad!
Safe travels (and good eats) to everyone traveling on vacation this summer!
Continue Reading Dinner Rush! Backyard Pasta with Mint Pea Pesto
I see no reason for hot, muggy summer nights to put a damper on my delicious pizza-consumption time. Sure, turning on the oven to the highest setting it’ll withstand to produce that crispy, crispy crust would be a tasty choice. It would also be an express ticket to sleeping on the couch (the air conditioner is in the bedroom and my husband doesn’t suffer the heat too gladly). Enter old faithful: the trusty grill.
If you’ve made pizza at home before, then you know that heat is your friend. You crank that oven up as high as you possibly can, the idea being that you want a browned crust and melted cheese quickly. When grilling your pizza, it’s important to be a bit more reserved with those gas knobs. Since the heat of a grill is more direct than a traditional oven, hanging out in the “medium” range is your ticket. That is, of course, unless you love a charred pizza. I didn’t think so.
Now that you and pizza have been united in summertime backyard bliss, the only decision left to make is what should go on the pie. Here’s an idea:
Continue Reading Dinner Rush! Grilled Garden Vegetable Pizza
Asparagus’ green spears are a sure sign of spring. If you’re wondering about the health benefits of this seasonal must-have, this blog’s for you.
It’s low in calories: Five large spears have just 20 calories and 2 grams of fiber, making this a flavorful guilt-free food.
It’s nutrient-dense: Asparagus packs a lot of nutrition. It’s an excellent source of vitamin K (the vitamin that helps your blood to clot) and a good source of vitamins A and C, folate, iron and some B vitamins.
It acts as a diuretic: Asparagus contains high levels of the aptly named amino acid asparagine, which acts as a diuretic. This can actually help to lower high blood pressure.
Continue Reading 5 Health Benefits of Asparagus