Popular diet advice can be confusing; it's always changing, and it often contradicts itself. One day, low-fat diets are in, and the next, avocado and olive oil are "good-for-you fats" that help you lose weight by keeping you fuller longer. It's almost impossible to know what we should (and shouldn't) be eating. The result of these ever-changing dietary recommendations? We mistakenly believe that some of the foods that our bodies need to function should be avoided. We're simply afraid to eat certain healthy foods.
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One of the nutrients most stigmatized by shifting dietary advice is fat. Fat plays an important role in our bodies, and it is essential for good health. Eat too little fat and your body won’t be able to absorb certain essential vitamins. Some signs that you don’t have enough fat in your diet? Your skin may dry out, you might have difficulty concentrating, and you’ll have a hard time staying warm. Yet, despite the importance of fat in our diets, the recent popularity of low-fat or no-fat diets has led us to believe that foods with fat are bad for us. In reality, eating heart-healthy unsaturated fats can help us stay fuller longer — which makes it easier to control what we eat the rest of the day. The key is choosing the right kinds of fats and controlling our portion sizes.
Even diets that don't limit fat have a tendency to point to one single ingredient or nutrient as the cause of weight-loss or weight-maintenance failure. Low- or no-carb diets are another great example; they have led us to believe that lots of healthy, whole-grain foods are bad for us. Healthy carbohydrates not only help us stay full and eat less over the course of the day, but can also help stabilize blood sugar and encourage our bodies to burn stored fat. As with fats, choosing the right carbohydrates and eating them in the right proportions help us stay healthy.
Many nutritionists agree that the key to staying healthy is eating a variety of wholesome foods and controlling portion sizes. If you’re ready to take a more balanced approach to healthy eating — and incorporate a wider range of foods into your diet — we’ve got 9 great recipes to get you started.
Casarecce with Swordfish and Eggplant
This flavorful and easy-to-make pasta dish can help promote brain health. The combination of the omega-3 fatty acids in the fish and the complex carbohydrates in the pasta will protect your brain cells, improve your mood, and help your brain function at its best. If you can’t find the casarecce that this recipe calls for, substitute another shape of pasta that can stand up to a chunky sauce, like cavatelli or penne.
Chicken, Avocado, and Cheddar Melt
Any sandwich labeled “melt” has the potential to pack a ton of fat and calories, but this delicious version has all the flavor and none of the guilt. With wholesome whole grain bread, lean chicken, and creamy avocado replacing mayonnaise, this melt will keep you fuller longer, making it easier for you to stick to your healthy eating plan.
Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal’s Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.
9 Cocktail Recipes to Make You Feel Like a Mixologist
Instead of going out to a swanky cocktail bar, why not bring the cocktails home? These recipes go way beyond a basic gin & tonic, and show you that mastering a few mixology tricks is easier than you’d think. Cheers to that!
1. Prosecco Negroni
The Negroni is everywhere these days, and we love the idea of giving it a lighter twist. This bubbly cocktail is simple to make at home: Just mix Prosecco with sweet vermouth and Campari and call it a night. Get our Prosecco Negroni recipe.
2. Red-Chile Guava Margarita
Turn up the heat on a classic Margarita. This fruity cocktail uses guava nectar to add sweetness and a tropical vibe. You’ll need to make the spicy chile-infused tequila in advance. We suggest making extra and getting creative with the leftovers. Now that’s hot. Get our Red-Chile Guava Margarita recipe.
3. Copa Verde
Your drinking should be just as adventurous as your cooking. This creamy blended cocktail recipe, a mix of tequila, citrus, thyme, and avocado, is the perfect place to start: It’s easy to make but the flavors are sophisticated. If you’ve never tried avocado in your cocktails, now’s the time to start. Get our Copa Verde recipe.
4. Elder Fashion
Elderflower is a popular ingredient at cocktail bars, and it’s time for you to find out why. The best way to enjoy it is in a simple cocktail like this one, which highlights the elderflower liqueur instead of hiding it under layers of other flavors. Just add gin and a dash of bitters and get drinking. Get our Elder Fashion recipe.
5. Slushy Strawberry Vodka Lemonade
Slushies for adults are a brilliant idea, and this cocktail is a perfect example. Fresh strawberries give it a pretty hue and sweeten up the tart lemon juice. Now all you need is a swirly straw to make it really fun to drink. Get our Slushy Strawberry Vodka Lemonade recipe.
6. The Flying Fig
Muddling fresh figs with vodka, elderflower liqueur, and fresh lemon juice yields a sweet and tart cocktail. This drink looks and tastes elegant and complicated, but it couldn’t be more simple to make in your own kitchen. Get our Flying Fig recipe.
7. Full Moon Punch
Fall has arrived, and we’ve got the drink to celebrate the season. This brightly colored punch is ideal for a party: Mix up a big batch in advance of guests. With plenty of fresh citrus juice, ginger ale, white rum, and plenty more, it’s a festive way to get in the autumnal mood. Get our Full Moon Punch recipe.
8. Fox and Hounds
Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder. Embrace it at home with this creative bourbon cocktail recipe with a touch of absinthe, orange juice, and an egg white. It’s the kind of drink that will impress even the most discerning drinkers. Get our Fox and Hounds recipe.
9. Ward Eight
Riff on a sour with this bright pink Ward Eight cocktail. You need bourbon, lemon juice, orange juice, and grenadine. A drink like this one is testament to how a few simple ingredients can combine to make something greater than the individual parts. We like to serve it with a cherry for garnish, but it’s just as fantastic on its own. Get our Ward Eight recipe.
1. Sweet Potato Nachos
This recipe swaps processed tortilla chips for sweet potatoes. Without the chips, you'll cut back on fat and gain a whole host of benefits, including immunity-supporting vitamin C and gut-healthy prebiotic fiber, says Kellie Gragg, MPH, RDN, a dietitian with Strata Integrated Wellness Spa.
If you're dairy-free or you want to remove all saturated fat from this recipe, Gragg suggests leaving out the cheddar cheese or swapping it for a plant-based option, like cashew cheese. "This is a smart swap considering saturated fat is a contributor to elevated LDL cholesterol," she says.
If you don't have fresh tomato, onion or jalapeño, you can skip a trip to the grocery store and use a half-jar of salsa instead, says registered dietitian Maria Sorbara Mora, RD. Salsa is typically made with many of those same ingredients — just double-check for added sugar!
Get the Sweet Potato Nachos recipe and nutrition info here.
Why Student Debt Is a Racial Justice Issue
Student loan debt burdens more than 44 million Americans, and prevents millions from buying homes, starting businesses, saving for retirement, or even starting families. This debt is disproportionately affecting Black families, and Black women in particular.
Higher education has long been held as a critical gateway to getting a job and achieving economic stability and mobility. But because of long-standing systemic racial discrimination, Black families have far less wealth to draw on to pay for college, creating barriers for Black communities to access higher education and build wealth. Black families are more likely to borrow, to borrow more, and to have trouble in repayment. Two decades after taking out their student loans, the median Black borrower still owes 95 percent of their debt, whereas the median white borrower has paid off 94 percent of their debt.
Students of color pursue higher education in a social and economic system built on racist ideologies that is set up to work against them and perpetuate racial wealth and income and achievement gaps. To redress this systemic inequality, the ACLU, Center for Responsible Lending (CRL), and more than 300 other organizations are calling on the Biden-Harris administration and Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona to use their authority under the Higher Education Act to cancel $50,000 of student debt per borrower, and Congress must act as well.
To understand the systemic issues rooted in the student debt crisis, we must start with its history. Though we have normalized the idea that students must take on debt for college, historically students benefited from broad public investment in higher education. However, not all students benefited equally: Black students had little access to GI Bill benefits and, even a decade after Brown v. Board of Education (1954), predominately white institutions (PWIs) in many states resisted integration and equal treatment. Further, state and federal governments continued to inadequately and inequitably fund historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) despite the high-quality opportunities they provided and the critical function they performed for Black students and communities. This created and cemented the racial wealth and resource gap in institutions of higher education.
It was in this context that Congress and President Lyndon B. Johnson passed the Higher Education Act of 1965. Recognizing the value of broad higher education access, Johnson hoped the legislation would open the doors of opportunity to everyone, especially Black students and other students of color, through Pell Grants and other subsidies.
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Yet by the end of the 20th century, just as Black and Brown students and women gained entry after decades-long legal battles and social struggles, reactionary policymakers shifted the significant costs of higher education from the public to individual families. What had been considered a public good when it was predominantly for white men, became a public burden to be shifted to families.
This shift away from public financing, which accelerated after the Great Recession, led to predictable and damaging results: Today the cost of higher education is beyond imagination. It is out of reach for most families, especially Black and Brown students, unless they agree to unsustainable debt. In effect, we are perpetuating the ugly legacy of redlining and housing discrimination by requiring the same Black families that were historically denied wealth to take on a greater debt burden than their white peers.
The student debt crisis is just one of the latest iterations in the long and shameful history of too many unkept promises to Black and Brown communities. This country didn't keep its promise to give formerly enslaved people the land that they worked on to build wealth following the Civil War. Then from redlining, inaccessible GI benefits, and now the decreased value of college degrees, Black people have continuously had the roads to economic success blocked outright.
Canceling $50,000 in student debt can help secure financial stability and economic mobility for Black and Brown borrowers who are disproportionately burdened by this student debt crisis and the impacts of the racial wealth gap in this country. But even after graduation, Black and Latinx people face substantial job discrimination and earn far less than their white counterparts. This income gap makes building financial stability and managing student loan repayment even harder. A college education actually deepens the wealth gap due to the high costs and structural issues in our system. Yet, higher education is a necessity, not a luxury, for today's workforce.
Due to these persisting inequalities, even with $50,000 cancelation per borrower, there will still be millions of borrowers with debt. That number will only grow unless we overhaul loan repayment altogether and create a debt-free college system. The Center for Responsible Learning argues that the federal government should improve repayment by: (1) clearing the books of bad debts, such as debts that have been in repayment for longer than 15 years (2) restoring limitations on collections and making student debt dischargeable in bankruptcy and (3) making repayment truly affordable and budget-conscious through a new income-driven repayment plan open to all borrowers. For new students, a new social contract could also double the Pell Grant and increase funding and support for HBCUs.
We have an opportunity to help millions of families realize their American Dreams, secure financial stability and economic mobility for Black and Brown families, and take a critical step toward closing the racial wealth gap. The charge is clear, the moment is here, and the time for action is now: The Biden administration must cancel $50,000 in student debt per borrower.
Pretty much any way to cook potatoes is tied at number one in my book, but scalloped potatoes might have a slight edge over all the other recipes. They're creamy, the perfect amount of crispy, and just incredibly flavorful. If you make this recipe in a bigger dish, keep in mind that commenters recommend making extra sauce — otherwise, the potatoes might get a tiny bit dry.
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The basic problem with salt is that it encourages fluid retention in the body. Normally, your kidneys deploy a precise balance of potassium and sodium to remove extra water from the blood. But when you consume too much salt, this fragile sodium–potassium balance is shot to hell. As a result, your kidneys remove less water from your system. This puts damaging pressure on blood vessels in your kidneys, and your arteries bulge to accommodate the extra fluid.
Nitric oxide (NO) is a critical chemical compound in your body that is released by the cells in your arteries, signaling muscle fibers in your cell walls to relax and allow more blood to flow. The ability of your endothelial cells to pump out nitric oxide (NO) is a direct marker of the health of your vessels.
This baked oatmeal doubles as a breakfast casserole and a dessert! Try serving warm with some frozen banana “nice cream”.
When you get a flat tire, do you get out of the car, slash the other three tires and set your vehicle ablaze on the side of the road? Of course not. So when you stumble with your health goals, what should you do to ensure you still make it to your planned destination?
The versatile Daily Beet Burger recipe sends this pizza soaring with Italian style “meatballs” made from beets!
New recipe! These tasty oat bars are kid approved and great for on the go snacks that are filling and travel well.
Initially, when making the switch to eating more plants, it can be really hard to adjust to the amount of time you spend in the kitchen. We have been conditioned to make meals as quickly as possible, and no one has ever taught us to embrace extra work with food. So how do you make the added effort a love language to yourself? We believe that your mindset is the most important tool in your toolbox.
It’s true, olive oil does have trace amounts of vitamins… but you’d have to guzzle 10 tablespoons of it to meet your daily requirement for both. You’d also have to guzzle half a pound of olive oil—about 2,000 calories worth—in order to reach your daily recommended intake of omega-3 fatty acids. I can’t think of a better way to stop your heart than by quaffing down a half pound of oil!
One of my favorite meals growing up was a plate of frozen Stouffer’s macaroni and cheese, which I’d make myself whenever my parents went out to dinner. This macaroni not cheese would make childhood me just as happy!
This recipe for dairy free, nut free stuffed shells will likely become a new family favorite. It’s easy to make and will be quick to disappear. It’s perfect for Sunday dinner or to share during holidays. It’s just as delicious as the stuffed shells you remember eating as a kid - only these are made PLANTSTRONG!
This is perfect for a crowd, whether it’s a Super Bowl party, regular football Sunday…or any day, really.
These are perfect for a crowd, whether it’s a Super Bowl party, regular football Sunday…or any day, really. Pair them with your favorite plant-strong burger for a filling, delicious and nutritious meal.
This pizza is both fresh and refreshing! Use our whole grain pizza crusts as a base for this nutrient dense recipe, or substitute a no-oil lavash or low-sodium whole grain bread.
The idea for this recipe came from the popular egg, cheese and bacon casseroles so popular at brunches – only this one is PLANT-STRONG!
These are perfect for a crowd, whether it’s a Super Bowl party, regular football Sunday…or any day, really. Pair them with your favorite plant-strong burger for a filling, delicious and nutritious meal.
Place brats in a skillet over medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes, rotating them every minute and a half. If cooking on a barbeque grill, rotate them every minute or two until the brown rice paper starts to bubble and grill marks appear.
Jalapeno Firecrackers - plant-strong appetizer the whole family will love. Feeding a crowd? Or your local fire station? This recipe will get everyone’s attention.
Rustic Black Lentil Stew—A PLANTSTRONG Instant Pot Recipe
Why do we love our greens so much? Not only are they health-strong, but they’re also earth-strong. Learn more about the benefits of plant-based foods.
Build your Chili Cheeze Fries appetizer for a crowd or individual servings, but stacking the fries, chili and cheeze sauce. Add hot sauce, salsa, avocado, green onion, jalapeños or any other type of garnish you wish to the dish.
25 Easy Recipes With Only 3 Ingredients
Cooking at home is usually healthier and cheaper than going out, but lingering pandemic complications make quick and easy recipes essential. Forget about hunting down a long list of ingredients and embrace the simplicity captured in the TikTok phenomenon of "Uunifetapasta" (the baked feta pasta dish the world went crazy for as 2021 rolled in) we've rounded up our favorite three-ingredient recipes — 25 of them, ranging from breakfast to dessert. As long as you have kitchen staples such as salt, pepper, and olive oil, these tasty recipes will be a breeze.
6. Chili Sin Carne Cornbread Pie
Chili is a perfect “clean out your pantry” dish, but Emma D’Alessandro‘s Chili sin Carne has a little something extra. Not only is it vegan but it’s topped with a warm cornbread, which can be made gluten-free if needed. You can skip the dippin’ because it’s already there for you.
Roasting the vegetables, along with a trio of umami-rich ingredients (miso, mushrooms, and kombu), give this meat-free broth a deep, satisfying flavor.
For an even deeper, nutty flavor, toast the cashews first (or buy them that way, but make sure they’re unsalted). Skeptical? Think hazelnut coffee, but with cashews instead.
Recipes you want to make. Cooking advice that works. Restaurant recommendations you trust.
Our Most Popular Easy, Healthy Recipes of 2016
Looking for easy, healthy recipes your whole family will love? These recipes are must-try favorites – our most popular recipes of the year – as chosen by you, our readers!
2016 was a big year around here, full of changes and new beginnings. And we have all of you – our wonderful, supportive, enthusiastic readers and friends to thank for the successful, surprisingly fun year it turned out to be!
You might remember that it all started with a sad farewell – as Gretchen (my bestie and one of THK’s original, diabolical, founding masterminds) stepped away from the blog to begin a new career helping special needs kids in our local schools. (For the umpteenth time … I miss you so much, G!)
What to do … what to do. How would THK even be THK without her.
But, we regrouped and refocused. We came together as a family to make this effort uniquely our own – to keep bringing you healthy recipes that we love, in the hope of inspiring all of you to try cooking healthier recipes at home, too.
(And BTW … if you’re curious to peek at some more all-time TOP healthy recipes from our site – besides just from 2016 – take a look at our video below! It showcases some of our most popular recipes EVER, and how to find them on our site!)
No doubt, this year was a bit of a whirlwind, with a definite learning curve (so many of Gretchen’s talents and strengths that we had to learn to recreate without her) – but somehow, little by little, we did it!
Looking back on 2016 now, most of all I want to say THANK YOU! Thank you for cheering us on, for encouraging us to keep going, and for letting us know what types of recipes you’d like to see and which of our recipes you’ve loved most of all.
As we do every year, we’ve gathered up the list of our most popular (most viewed) new recipes, to share one more time in case you missed one along the way. Looking for great, healthy recipes to kick off 2017? You’re sure to find a little spark of inspiration here!
And speaking of little sparks … thank you again. Really. Thank you for being our little spark of inspiration and encouragement, for pushing us along even when we weren’t sure how this year would all work out. We can’t wait for another year with you!
Happy, Happy New Year, friends!
This fun, super-easy twist on chicken parmesan was an instant hit, and quickly became a runway favorite with our readers, and on Yummly and Pinterest. All the satisfying flavors of a classic chicken parmesan casserole, but ready in just 15 minutes! You can even make them completely ahead – and they’re freezable, too! Perfect for grab-and-go eating on the run!
I started making these for Ty as an after-school snack, and the recipe immediately became a favorite we just had to share with other busy families! We’ve definitely noticed that pizza-inspired recipes are almost always a guaranteed hit with our readers, and this unique quesadilla was no exception. It takes just minutes to throw together, and features lots of whole grains and protein – absolutely perfect as a quick meal or a hearty, nourishing, keep-you-powered-up snack!
These are terrific as a freezable, make-ahead breakfast for busy mornings, or as a fun, personal-sized breakfast dish for holiday brunch buffets. These cute little quiche cups take just a few minutes to prep, and (because of their mini size) they bake extra-quickly! And with no crust, they’re also gluten-free. Truly versatile, and seriously yummy!
Inspired by a greasy, artery-clogging food court indulgence, these incredibly delicious pizza fries are loaded with pizza flavor, yet so much healthier! They’re really easy to make, and our whole family was just crazy for them, from the very first time we made them. Turns out, our readers love them as much as we do!
Also known (in our house at least) as Apple-Dapple Crunch Wrap Supremes, this recipe puts a fresh-tasting spin on your same-old, same-old peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Filled with a satisfying combination of sweet, crunchy, chewy and creamy ingredients, these wraps quickly became Amy’s go-to school lunch request. Easy to make ahead, and so perfect for on-the-go meals!
A delicious way to change-up taco night, this skillet meal is a cinch to throw together – in just 30 minutes (of mostly hands-off cooking time). And for those extra-busy nights, we’ve got make-ahead strategies, too! Another of our family favorites we couldn’t wait to share with you this year!
A gluten-free, super-nutritious twist on tabouli that still tastes just like … well, like tabouli! So vibrantly fresh and delicious! We debuted this recipe last spring at a farm market where we’d been invited to do some cooking demos. Our whole family had a great time that day, especially seeing little kiddos’ faces light up with surprise and delight as they tried healthy recipes they weren’t really sure they would like. Our best compliment of the day? When a tiny little farm market shopper named Marcus cracked a huge grin and dubbed this tabouli “Exploding good!” Could it possibly get any better than that. Plus, this recipe makes a big, big batch that keeps well for several days – exploding good as a make-ahead recipe, too!
The perfect grab-and-go breakfast to fuel you up on busy mornings! These freezable Breakfast Burritos are filled with sweet chicken-apple sausage and butternut squash, savory cheese and red peppers, and fluffy scrambled egg. (I’m desperately craving these all over again, just typing this!)
So this was kind of a surprise – finding that two of our Top 10 recipes this year were for puppy treats – recipes that we’d mainly created just as a way to use up leftover chicken that I had on hand from concocting so many rotisserie chicken recipes . Huh. Go figure! Leave it to a cute, fuzzy little pup to turn a simple, 2-ingredient recipe into a Top 10 hit! Thanks, Finny! And really – no matter how many times we make these, Finn never stops being excited about them. Doggy tested, doggy approved … again and again and again!
Ditto everything I said above! But I truly do pinky-swear promise not to turn THK into a doggy blog … no matter how much everyone loves our doggy treat recipes! It actually is pretty cool, though, that every single member of our family – even little Finny – got to put their mark on our family blog this year! To be honest though, I don’t think Finn cares much about all of that. He’s probably way more worried that his supply of these treats is frighteningly low at the moment – only two left! (So if you whip up some for your pup today … feel free to send some our way!)
Every year, Gretchen and I each always used to pick one personal “sleeper” favorite – a recipe we dearly loved that somehow didn’t make it into the Top 10. She and I used to joke that it was pretty much an impossible task – like choosing a favorite child.
This year, I asked both of my favorite kiddos (and Scott, too!) to help keep the tradition going. Each member of our family (except Finny – since #1 he has a hard time with big decisions and #2 his favorite recipes are both already in the Top 10) to choose just one fave to spotlight.
I thought it was really interesting what each of us chose … four more recipes you should definitely try in 2017 because (at least around our house) they’re way, way too good to miss!
Why Scott picked these: “Because – if I remember correctly – I was innocently eating a Flatout PB&J when I noticed that I was eating a hippo head. In that brief moment of discovery, the lightbulb actually turned on – and I knew I finally had something to offer to THK. Also, I love PB&J. And Hippos.”
Why I picked this: “I love everything about this recipe … the back story of how it evolved, and the collaborative effort as Scott and I scoured local stores for authentic Indian ingredients (and then tested and tested until we came up with work-arounds for those of you who might not be able to find those ingredients). But, as a mom, I also treasure this specific photo and all that it represents. Those are Ty’s sweet hands wrapped around the bowl. He’d arrived home from school just as I finished this photo shoot, and standing in for this shot was one more way that he helped in shoot after shoot all year long. My little photography assistant! Oh … plus the chili is seriously delicious! Try it!!”
Why Ty picked these: “I love the Reuben Nachos because … who doesn’t love nachos? And they’re healthy. And they’re reuben. Nachos + Reuben + Healthy = Awesome.” Oh – and in case you were worried (which I’m pretty sure you weren’t) – Ty gets his favorite recipe listed before Amy’s since he’s older … by about 45 seconds, but that still counts!)
Why Amy picked these: “I just love these muffins! They’re always a go-to for snacks and desserts, plus they’re super versatile, with tons of ways to enjoy them! I especially love them warmed up with vanilla ice cream ! And, with Valentine’s Day coming up, these are definitely in season!” (BTW … if we would’ve listed the Top 11 recipes of 2016, instead of only the Top 10 … these would’ve just snuck in under the wire at #11. Amy knows a winner when she see one!)
Here’s to another exciting, deliciously healthy year together, friends! Happy 2017, from our healthy kitchen, to yours!