I would love some recipes for healthier eating
January 2, 2011 12:36 PM   Subscribe

I need help making healthier dishes. Any recipe ideas or great sites for this?

Well, the all-important new year's resolution is in full swing. I'm trying to improve my diet for overall health and to lose about twenty pounds. I am in no hurry to lose the weight as I assume a healthier diet mixed with exercise will produce the results I want eventually.

I have noticed a bit of lopsided-ness in my diet and am working to correct it. I eat plenty of carbohydrates, protein, dairy and fruits as my tastes seem to really like these and always crave them. However, I want to cut down on these and add more things like vegetables, legumes, couscous and quinoa to my diet. I like beans and grains just fine here and there, but I have trouble finding tasty recipes for them. I have the same problem with vegetables. I like them enough to eat them but I have trouble eating a lot of them because I get tired of them quickly. I eat spinach salads because I just love spinach but it gets old if I eat it over and over. Also, I have a strong dislike for tomatoes. I only add that because tomatoes seem to be in an awful lot of healthy dishes.

Do you have any recipes or know of any websites full of recipes for vegetables and high-fiber grains, beans and such? And not just for the foods I mentioned, any other recommendations for healthy fiber-ful recipes welcome! Thanks and Happy New Year.
posted by smeater44 to Food & Drink (23 answers total) 55 users marked this as a favorite
101 Cookbooks focuses on whole grains, vegetables, and legumes.
posted by rebekah at 12:48 PM on January 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Fat Free Vegan and most vegan cookbooks/blogs are great for this sort of thing. Soups, stews and curries are the way to go if you want to eat tasty vegetables. Vegetable lentil stew, skillet shepherds pie, garden vegetable and bean soup and curried cauliflower sweet potato soup are some of my favorites. Check out the grain and the vegetable section of the blog too. I love Fat Free Vegan because she always has a picture and breaks down the nutritional information, and the comments are helpful.
posted by shoreline at 12:51 PM on January 2, 2011

*does secret anti-tomato handshake*

I like most veggies, but hate tomatoes - always have. Especially raw, and in big pieces. But I can tolerate them cooked and finely mixed into things like sauces. How do you feel about things like tomato paste?

Stews are great when the weather is cold. Lately, I've taken to making various lentil stews. You can turn a lot of chunky soup recipes into stews, by using a lot less water.

Here's one I've made a few times and enjoy (adjust amounts to your liking):
- garlic
- onions
- brown lentils
- peeled sweet potatoes
- red skinned potatoes
- carrots
- italian herbs (mixed, dried is fine)
- chicken or veggie bouillon
- ground black pepper
- tomato paste
- bay leaf
- olive oil

- saute onion and garlic. add in bouillon cube and smush around. add chopped carrots, sweet potato, and red skin potato. stir, saute a little. add everything else (herbs, bay leaf, tomato paste, ground black pepper, lentils). keep on low for a minute or two, then add some water - maybe 2 cups or so. depending on how chunky you like it. let simmer for about 30 minutes. eat as stew - on its own, or with bread if you'd like. very flavorful and hearty.

turkish red lentil soups are also delicious - there are tons of recipes on the internet. don't forget the fresh lemon and protein rich greek yogurt!

veggie chili is also great - skip the tomatoes, but do the tomato paste if you can handle it. eat by itself, or with some yummy flax seed tortilla chips.

soba noodles are also awesome - they're made of buckwheat, and full of protein and fiber. great when tossed with some stir-fried vegetables of your choice, and a little soy sauce and fresh lime juice.
posted by raztaj at 12:58 PM on January 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

Cannellini Minestrone - we make this all the time. There is an error with the recipe online (or there was) -- basically, soak the beans, discard the water, and then cook the beans in DIFFERENT WATER or in broth. We're not vegetarian, so we use chicken broth, but it's good with veggie broth (esp if you sub in about a cup of mushroom broth). Also, you can use fresh mushrooms, just clearly you don't need to reconstitute them.

Bean and Barley Soup - another favorite. This one uses a quick soak method for the beans, which is a good thing to have in your pocket.

Beans are most excellent when you use dried, but canned is sometimes just going to happen (or may be the only way you're willing to eat beans - I have no idea). In the event that you do use canned beans, rinse in a colander until no more foam appears on the beans. Also, here is a handy dried to canned beans conversion method.

Also, while you aren't doing any particular diet, I love Kalyn's Kitchen for healthy recipes (and she does South Beach, but in general her stuff is crazy-edible and you don't feel like you've sacrificed eating right for taste).

Hope that helps. Once you make each of these soups once, and depending on how much cooking experience you have and/or develop in general you can sub in other stuff for seasonality (sometimes it's hard to find chard - but use whatever, rainbow, regular, red, it's all the same for these purposes). Good luck!
posted by Medieval Maven at 1:00 PM on January 2, 2011

Seconding 101 Cookbooks, as well as Serious Eats (you might do well to focus on the various recipe series rather than allowing the site to get you bogged down about pizza, burgers, and sweets).

I'm also a big fan of the Veganomicon and other projects by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. I'm not vegan and will usually substitute in real deal dairy, eggs, and the like rather than her vegan equivalents. You can also exchange her tofu, seitan, etc. for lean meat, if it's more to your taste. Though expanding your horizons to vegetarian sources of protein is definitely a good thing.

Adding a poached egg or two to almost any vegetable dish can turn it into a main course.

Another thing I do a lot to make sure I'm still eating healthily even though I'm a vegetarian is to moderate my use of oils and fatty dairy. I just made this terrific recipe for home fries, which called for three tablespoons of butter. I'm OK with that today (I'm fattening up against my reentry into the cold New York City winter! Sure! Yeah!), but it's really not a great everyday approach to cooking. However, you could ultimately get the same result if you used canola oil, or if you drastically moderated the amount of oil by using a cooking spray.
posted by Sara C. at 1:18 PM on January 2, 2011

I really love the blog Cheap Healthy Good. Great, healthy, versatile recipes!
posted by chara at 1:21 PM on January 2, 2011

Wow! These are all really great recommendations! Thanks for so many good ones already! I deem all of your answers favorites. The 101 Cookbooks looks amazing. And raztaj, we are exactly alike when it comes to tomatoes. If it's not chunky, fine. But if you hand me a slice of tomato, it will be rejected.
posted by smeater44 at 1:27 PM on January 2, 2011

You need a food plan that is sustainable so that you don't turn around and gain the weight back as quickly as you lost it.

South Beach. Seriously. Combined with moderate exercise, both me and my SO lost 20 pounds a piece in a few months. The biggest challenge is Phase 1 but it allows you to 'reset' you cravings.
posted by quadog at 1:59 PM on January 2, 2011

FYI, couscous is high in neither fiber nor protein. It is white-flour pasta, just like spaghetti.
posted by rxrfrx at 2:29 PM on January 2, 2011

Picky Cook. Fantastic vegetarian food.
posted by bibliogrrl at 3:13 PM on January 2, 2011

Have you seen Cooking Light? It's a magazine that is published monthly, but you can get the vast majority of their recipes online. I can always find at least one or two recipes in each magazine that are fantastic. At this point, I'd say 90% of the food we eat is from Cooking Light. One important reason why I like Cooking Light so much is because the nutritional information is listed. When counting calories, it's important to, you know, actually count them. If you are interested, you can memail and I can give you some our favorites.

To a lesser extent, I use recipes from Ellie Krieger's (from the Food Network). She also includes nutritional content. Her emphasis is including vitamins and minerals, not just cutting calories.

Good luck!
posted by Hop123 at 4:07 PM on January 2, 2011

Agreeing with rxrfrx on couscous not being terribly healthy - try bulgur instead, both lower GI and much tastier.
posted by Coobeastie at 4:13 PM on January 2, 2011

Get How to Cook Everything. It's great for impulse-buying an interesting vegetable at the farmer's market, and then looking up a dead simple (and delicious) recipe for preparing it. He also suggests lots and lots of variations on each recipe, which should help you stay interested.

Also, go slow. If you try to change your entire eating pattern all at once, you will burn out. Try adding more vegetable to your schedule once a week, then when that's easy do twice a week, and so on. Or explore one vegetable/grain per week and try it a bunch of different ways. But take it slow.
posted by squasher at 4:13 PM on January 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ignore my grocer's apostrophe. (I meant Ellie Kreiger's recipes.)
posted by Hop123 at 4:14 PM on January 2, 2011

Oh, and TheKitchn freakin' loves quinoa.
posted by squasher at 4:16 PM on January 2, 2011

I have a vegan food blog listed in my profile. One of my favorite ways to eat lots of vegetables is soup. Another great way is to use them as filling in a main dish that would traditionally have meat or gobs of cheese: enchiladas, tacos, savory pies, etc. And, I agree with squasher about going slow. You could make one or two new things a week so that you don't get overwhelmed or discouraged by things that don't work or leave you hungry.
posted by zinfandel at 5:59 PM on January 2, 2011

I thought of something else: I often make vegetarian versions of meaty recipes by dividing the weight of the meat into thirds and replacing one part with a meat sub and the other two thirds with a couple of vegetables. You could do the same thing with recipes you already love but leave the meat in and just use a third as much. At least one of the vegetables will be something high protein like legumes or spinach or umami like mushrooms, and the might be anything that seems like it would go with the dish, like potatoes or peppers. For example, I have a vegan King Ranch casserole in the works and I plan to replace 1-1/2 pounds of chicken with 8 ounces of seitan, about 6 ounces of mushrooms and some white beans.
posted by zinfandel at 7:37 PM on January 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

Nthing 101 Cookbooks, Heidi's recipes generally turn out great. All of her recipes are vegetarian, but they are quite often heavy on the olive oil so watch out for that.

Also suggest looking into America's Test Kitchen/Cook's Illustrated light cookbook. They do tons of testing to figure out the best tasting light versions of recipes.
posted by lvanshima at 7:52 PM on January 2, 2011

The World's Healthiest Foods.
posted by 4eyes at 8:53 PM on January 2, 2011

If you like your carbs, but want to eat healthier, I would suggest eating healthier carbs. Switch to brown rice, for example, for more protein, fiber, and vitamins. I also use whole wheat pasta; since it has a stronger flavor and can overwhelm sauces, I use half white and half whole wheat. Most cookies, cakes, and other baked goods can also be made with half white flour and half whole wheat.

I also recommend Mollie Katzen's vegetarian cookbooks; her recipes always turn out well for me and they're full of flavor (not always true of vegetarian recipes).

Here's a recipe that I like that's healthy and full of vegetables: Fried Rice (adapted from the Cook's Illustrated recipe)

Dice up whatever veg you have on hand--I've used carrots, celery, golden beets, cabbage, bok choy, green beans, mushrooms, turnips, etc., etc. Saute in a bit of olive oil until crisp-tender (start the harder veg first--carrots, broccoli, etc.--then add the ones that cook faster). Add a minced garlic clove and let it cook for a minute. Stir in 3 cups cold leftover brown rice (that's 1 cup uncooked) and heat, breaking up clumps with your spoon. Also add any leftover meat or meat substitute if you like--chicken, pork, scrambled egg, whatever. In a small bowl, combine 3 T. oyster sauce and 3/4 T. soy sauce; pour that over the rice mixture and stir. Top with chopped green onion and bean sprouts.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 9:47 PM on January 2, 2011

I also was going to suggest brown rice. It always came out gummy and gross when I cooked it until I discovered Alton Brown's recipe for baked brown rice. It reliably comes out nutty and delicious. You can substitute broth for water and olive oil for butter depending on your tastes.

Steel cut oats also make a superior oatmeal if you're switching in better carbs.
posted by Logic Sheep at 11:34 PM on January 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Deborah Madison's "Vegetarian cooking for everyone"

One easy recipe: Muhjarraha (many variations of the spelling):

Basically, you cook lentils (I prefer the small french kind) and rice together--something like 1:2 parts of lentils to rice and 1:2 lentils/rice:water.

You can play around with seasoning--I usually keep it fairly simple with some thyme, salt and paper, maybe a bay leaf. coriander would be good too.

As it's cooking, covered, over medium heat, sautee slices or half moons of yellow onion in (optimally) olive oil or (still fine) canola or peanut oil until they turn dark brown. Let them drain on a paper town and then scatter them over the top of the cooked lentil/rice mixture. If you want to make it hot, harissa or regular old hot sauce will work.

This is super easy and delicious I think. The onions are crispy, savory and slightly sweet.
posted by SpicyMustard at 1:43 PM on January 3, 2011

Cook for Good has a downloadable (but not free) PDF cookbook complete with suggested menus for a month at a time, and an already-compiled shopping list for you. There are a few free recipes on the site. As a bonus, the recipes there are not just healthy, they're cheap and healthy (Cook for Good started as an experiment to prove you could eat healthy on a food stamps budget).
posted by timepiece at 1:51 PM on January 4, 2011

« Older Shopping for a stair carpet that goes far, flies...   |   C is for cookie, that's not good enough for me! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.