Blog Posts by CookingLight.com

  • Best (and worst) choices at seafood restaurants


    We'll show you the healthiest choices (and splurge-only dishes) to help you order wisely at seafood restaurants.

    When you want to eat out healthfully, you just head to your local seafood joint, right? After all, fish is low in calories and saturated fat, and can be one of the best sources of brain-boosting, heart-healthy omega-3s.

    Not so fast. Fish may start out as a wonder protein, but it can undergo a drastic transformation when it hits a commercial kitchen. Seafood restaurants have a long history of serving heaping baskets of heavily battered, deep-fried fish paired with even more deep-fried accompaniments. If there's a green vegetable to be found, it's the cabbage slaw swaddled in mayo.

    See More: Superfast Seafood

    But that's changing. Many chains now devote entire menu sections to blackened and broiled options. Red Lobster, the biggest national seafood chain, even offers half-portions (a satisfying 5 ounces) of grilled fish. This makes us happy as clams. Speaking

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  • Top lower-sodium foods

    Trying to cut back on salt but fond of convenience foods? These delicious packaged items manage to dramatically slash sodium without sacrificing flavor. By Maureen Callahan, MS, RD

    Experts encourage moderation when it comes to salt (sodium chloride) since excessive amounts of sodium not only raise blood pressure but can damage artery linings. Since the lion's share of sodium comes from processed foods, we sampled our way through the supermarket to find the best-tasting lower sodium products. Government standards define low sodium as 140 milligrams of sodium or less per serving, but we've included a few noteworthy products that cut sodium levels by 50 percent or more. Not seeing your favorite convenience food on this list? A smart shopping strategy courtesy of the newest Dietary Guidelines: Compare soups, breads, and similar foods and buy the brand with the lowest sodium numbers.

    See More: Meet the New Nutrition Labels

    Boar's Head All Natural Cap-Off Top Round Oven

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  • Store-bought shortcuts for dinner, fast!

    Be brilliant in much less time: delicious dishes that have at their heart a work-done-for-you supermarket ingredient.

    Healthy Shortcut Dinners

    Speed up the cooking with versatile, healthy supermarket convenience foods that help you turn out vibrant, healthy main dishes. The prep time for each of our featured shortcut recipes is slashed to about 20 minutes. We guarantee that these helpful tips and products will help you turn out a delicious, made-with-care meal in no time.

    See More: 100 Easy Chicken Recipes

    Shortcut Pizza: Refrigerated Fresh Pizza Dough

    Store-bought dough yields pizzeria quality. Ask for it in the bakery of your supermarket, or check specialty retailers like Trader Joe's. In a pinch, buy dough in tubes from the refrigerated section of the grocery store (it's higher in sodium than fresh dough). Just bring the dough to room temperature while the oven preheats.

    Roasted Vegetable and Ricotta Pizza

    Ingredients:
    1 pound refrigerated fresh

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  • Salt content in fast food chicken strips


    You'd think fat would be the problem with chicken strips. Not so. But some have a full day's worth of salt.

    Dietary Guidelines for Sodium Intake

    The new Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend 1,500mg of sodium daily for those at risk for blood-pressure-related diseases, and 2,300mg for everyone else. For a little perspective on how easy it is to hit those marks, look at how heavily the salt shaker is deployed with these eight fast-food chicken strips.

    For each restaurant example, we chose the smallest-available serving. Differences in serving size account for some of the sodium variation.

    See More: 22 Healthy Lunch Ideas

    Hardee's

    The Facts:
    3 pieces per order
    260 calories
    2.5g sat fat
    770mg sodium

    McDonald's

    The Facts:
    3 pieces per order
    400 calories
    3.5g sat fat
    1,010mg sodium

    See More: Top Lower-Sodium Foods

    Arby's

    The Facts:
    3 pieces per order
    360 calories
    2.5g sat fat
    1,160mg sodium

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  • Recipe Makeover: Carrot Cake

    We radically slim down one of the most egregiously over-the-top cakes in the universe. By Sidney Fry, MS, RD

    Some time back, carrot cake became the poster child for a healthy-sounding food that is actually a fat and calorie disaster. But we'd forgotten how much of a disaster it could be until we looked at an online recipe from a celebrity chef who shall go unnamed. There it was, in all its splendor, weighing in at 1,460 calories and 28 grams of saturated fat in one gargantuan three-layer slice.

    See More: 10 Nutrition Myths

    Few are the recipes that have been made over quite this dramatically. We shaved about 1,000 calories and 89 grams of total fat. Yet, it's delicious: Creamy butter and smooth buttermilk create a perfectly moist, tender texture. Earthy brown sugar brings out the warm cinnamon spices. Real-deal cream cheese and butter maximize frosting flavor. Low-fat fromage blanc and a light sprinkle of toasted pecans make it a special, vastly lighter treat.

    See

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  • How calories really count

    A calorie is a calorie, no matter how you eat it, right? That was the thinking, but the thinking is changing. By Janet Helm, MS, RD

    Last summer, Mark Haub, Ph.D, an associate professor of nutrition at Kansas State University, made headlines when he lost 27 pounds after two months of living on Twinkies, Ho-Hos, Little Debbies, and other convenience-store snack cakes.

    Haub's experiment reinforced the calories-in/calories-out equation: If you drastically cut back-as Haub did, from 2,600 to 1,800 calories per day-you will lose weight, no matter how nutrient-deprived your diet may otherwise be. Anyone who knows what calories are-units of energy-knows this to be so.

    But lost in the brouhaha surrounding the so-called Twinkie Diet was a more interesting trend: a revision of the idea that all calories are equal. New studies hint that the body may burn calories from whole foods better than it does calories from processed foods like Twinkies. Essentially, it appears the body can

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  • 10 whole-wheat flour recipes

    Whole-wheat flour recipes can have all the allure of regular baked goods. We have the breads, scones, muffins, and cookies to prove it.

    See More: Decoding Whole-Grain Food Labeling

    Baking With Whole-Wheat Flour
    When baking with whole-wheat flour, it's important to not dive into a regular recipe and just replace regular flour with whole wheat. There are definite texture and flavor differences. It's safe to replace half of all-purpose flour with whole-wheat in most recipes. For recipes that use more than 50% whole-wheat flour, it's best to use a recipe that's been developed and tested using the good stuff (fiber-rich whole-wheat flour).

    In Fig, Date, and Walnut Quick Bread, equal parts of whole-wheat and all-purpose flour serve as the base, and potassium- and fiber-rich dried figs and dates offer moisture and even more nutritional punch.

    Fig, Date, and Walnut Quick Bread

    Yield: 12 servings (serving size: 1 slice)

    Ingredients:
    3/4 cup low-fat

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  • Decoding whole-grain food labeling

    How can you tell if a product is really a whole-grain food? Stick to the ingredient list for the answer, and find 10 common products here and see if they pass our whole-grain test. By Sidney Fry, MS, RD

    Walk through any supermarket and you'll find an array of whole-grain claims on packages. But how can you tell if a product is really a whole-grain food? We've done the homework for you, and we've learned to always focus on the ingredient list, and not on the often-confusing health claims on the front of the package. We've selected some common products-crackers, chips, popcorn, cereal, baking mixes, breads, and more-and evaluated whether they're a whole-grain food or not. Our explanations for each will help you to evaluate some of your favorite products yourself to see if they pass the whole-grains test.

    See More: 10 Foods for Strong Bones

    Wheat Thins Original Cracker
    YES: Touting 11 grams of whole grains per serving, these crispy thins are made with whole-grain wheat

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  • 7 whole-grain salads



    Make whole-grain salads in advance, chill, and enjoy for easy, quick-to-serve lunches and dinners.

    Healthy, Hearty Whole-Grain Salads

    With their nutty taste, mild flavor, and irresistible chewy texture, whole grains are a fitting canvas for salads because they harmonize with the bright, fresh flavors we enjoy most.

    Start with recipes with lots of herbs and vegetables, like this bulgur salad, as a basis for customizing your own grain salad. Stir in leftover chicken or shrimp to vary the flavor if you prefer.

    View Recipe: Bulgur Salad with Edamame and Cherry Tomatoes

    Colorful Quick Quinoa Grecian Salad

    Featuring peak summer produce and protein-rich quinoa, this colorful recipe was a finalist from our Ultimate Reader Recipe Contest. Save leftovers to serve for lunch throughout the week.

    View Recipe: Colorful Quick Quinoa Grecian Salad

    Cracked Wheat Salad with Nectarines, Parsley, and Pistachios

    Great with grilled chicken, lamb, or salmon, this

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  • 100-Calorie Salad Boosters



    Start with 1-1/2 cups of fresh mixed greens. Add a tablespoon of your favorite vinaigrette. Then pile on the good stuff. By Sidney Fry, MS, RD

    The Entrée Option

    A salad in a supporting role is always a safe choice, but what about when you want a plate of greens to take center stage? To that we say, double the greens and dressing, pick your favorite flavor booster, then add extra protein for a super salad supper that clocks in under 400 calories.

    • Flank steak (3 ounces broiled): 375 calories

    • Chicken breast (3 ounces roasted): 360 calories

    • Shrimp (¼ pound grilled): 345 calories

    See More: Superfast Salads

    Southwestern

    Give your salad some south-of-the-border inspiration with this flavor combination.

    100-Calorie Topping:

    2 tablespoons rinsed and drained black beans + 2 tablespoons sweet yellow corn + 2 tablespoons crumbled queso fresco + 2 tablespoons cubed avocado

    Perfect Pear Up

    There are some combinations that are no-brainers. This

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