Blog Posts by CookingLight.com

  • Healthier fall eats and ghoulish treats

    Photo: Randy MayorPhoto: Randy Mayor

    No tricks here. Find sweet treats, fall menus, and kid-friendly snacks you can feel good about in this fun-filled recipe collection.

    1. Chocolate Spiderweb Cookies
    Get festive with these delightful chocolaty cookies. For the spiderweb glaze, snip a very small hole in the corner of the plastic bag. If it's too small, you can always make it bigger.

    View Recipe: Chocolate Spiderweb Cookies

    2. Candied Apples
    When we prepared these Candied Apples in our Test Kitchens, we were won over by their simple charm. In particular, we liked the way the cinnamon candy coating complemented the sweetness and cool crunch of the fruit in a classic flavor match. Our recipe uses cinnamon candies (Red Hots are a good choice) instead of the cinnamon and red food coloring used in other versions.

    View Recipe: Candied Apples

    Photo: Becky Luigart-StaynerPhoto: Becky Luigart-Stayner

    3. Spiced Pumpkin Biscuits
    These light, flavorful biscuits are the perfect complement to a fall meal. A light hand with the dough will help to ensure

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  • The best pb for your j

    From creamy to crunchy to natural options, here are our spread-worthy picks.

    Besides crunchy and creamy versions, you can find peanut butters labeled "low-sugar," "low-sodium," "no trans fats," even "made with Valencia peanuts." Regardless of the touts, most are made the same way: Peanuts are roasted, ground with salt and sugar, then mixed with an added fat component to prevent separation. During testing, we found some spreads so pasty we got an upper-body workout stirring them; other "spreads" ripped bread. A few had the aroma and flavor of just-ground glory―abundantly peanutty and perfect for spooning right out of the container. In the end, several staffers decided to ditch their household brand for these winners.

    BEST CRUNCHY―TIE!: Jif Extra Crunchy
    Price: $2.59 (18 ounces)
    Testers said: Raters loved this not-too-sweet, not-too-salty crunchy spread. If you like a lot of peanuts, this is the one for you. Cookies made with this butter were chewy, but crisp on bottom with

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  • The best and worst restaurant salads

    That bowl of greens may not be as good for you as you think. We navigate the best and worst restaurant salads and share our top picks. By Holley Grainger, MS, RDDan Dalton/Digital Vision/Getty ImagesDan Dalton/Digital Vision/Getty Images

    Restaurant Salads
    When the temperature starts to soar, a cool crisp salad seems like the ideal meal. But if you think you're getting a light, healthy bowl of greens when you're eating out at favorite restaurants like Romano's Macaroni Grill, California Pizza Kitchen, or Applebee's, you may want to take a closer look. While many restaurant salads are low in calories and loaded with healthy ingredients, others are diet disasters packed with calorific ingredients like fried chicken, full-fat cheese, and creamy dressings that are overflowing with hidden fat, calories, and sodium.

    Related: 5-Ingredient Salads

    Related: Superfast Salads


    Photo Courtesy of Panera BreadPhoto Courtesy of Panera BreadPANERA BREAD
    Thumbs Up: Panera Bread Strawberry Poppyseed Chicken Salad (pictured)
    This bright and colorful salad is filled with phytochemicals thanks to a healthy dose of Read More »from The best and worst restaurant salads
  • "Guy foods" lightened

    We've lightened favorite "guy foods" most commonly found on a bar menu (or on your coffee table during halftime). By making just a few small tweaks, you (and your man) can savor every bite to the fullest.
    - By Holley Grainger, MS, RD

    Andrea Bricco/Brand X Pictures/Getty ImagesAndrea Bricco/Brand X Pictures/Getty ImagesGuy Foods Lightened
    Guys get a bad rap for their "diet." From pizza and beer to fried chicken and wings, these stereotypical "man foods" can really pack on the calories, saturated fat, and sodium. Lighten them up by making just a few minor tweaks while still salvaging the flavors they crave. So go ahead, blame the guys (and enjoy your beer and wings with them). Here are a few of man's best food friends lightened.

    Read More: Healthy Unique Burgers

    Beer
    This drink of choice seems quite simple to lighten-simply drink light beer. We asked our Facebook fans which light beer they prefer and the answers varied with Bud Light and Amstel Light ranking highest. If light beer isn't your guys thing or if he isn't willing to give up his full

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  • Foods to make you beautiful

    Our guide to beauty foods gives new meaning to "You Are What You Eat."

    Beauty Foods
    If you've been filling up on doughnuts, soft drinks, and candy, it may be taking a toll on not just your health, but also your looks. Nutrient-rich foods can keep you fit and reduce your risk of heart disease and even some cancers. And research shows that some foods may enhance the radiance of your skin and hair, and give your metabolism a kick start. Here's our list of beauty foods to keep you looking and feeling fit and beautiful.

    Strawberries
    Did you know that in addition to being a delicious fruit strawberries can also keep your skin looking gorgeous? The vitamin C in strawberries acts as an important building block of collagen-the underlying supporting structure of skin. Just 1 cup of strawberries contains over 100% of your daily vitamin C needs.

    See More: Our Favorite Strawberry Recipes

    Chile Peppers
    Eating even one meal that contains capsaicin-the compound that gives

    Read More »from Foods to make you beautiful
  • Taste test: our favorite ketchups

    Just in time for grill season: America's favorite hamburger topping, rated.

    Randy MayorRandy MayorThe best ketchups hit all the right notes-honest tomato flavor, a well-balanced ratio of sweetness to tanginess, and a thick, robust body that holds up to the food it's paired with. Be careful how much you squeeze, though. On average, a single 15-calorie tablespoon of the condiment contains 190 milligrams of sodium. That's only 8 percent of your daily sodium allotment, but for ketchup lovers it can quickly add up. A few brands have introduced no-salt-added versions, but we found them overpoweringly sweet or too bitter. Two of our winners come in at a sensible 160 milligrams without shortchanging your taste buds.

    BEST REGULAR: 365 Tomato Ketchup, $2 (24 ounces)
    Flecks of spices set this ketchup apart from other brands. We loved the sweet and naturally clean flavor and applaud Whole Foods for making a great product with only 160 milligrams of sodium per tablespoon. Less salt but lots of flavor.

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  • Best pretzel picks for your health

    These five options are certain to satisfy a salty snack craving without blowing your sodium budget.

    Randy MayorRandy MayorPretzels, not being deep-fried, have a pretty good reputation on the nutrition front, as far as salty, crunchy snacks go. The problem is the "salty" part: It's tricky to take even a modest dip into a bag of some pretzels and stay within the daily 2,400-milligram sodium allotment. Among the many national brands and flavors we considered for tasting, seven had to be eliminated due to inordinately high sodium numbers. One brand contained an astonishing 630 milligrams per 1-ounce serving. But after culling some contenders by limiting sodium, we still found plenty of options that give you what you want in a good pretzel-crisp crunch and buttery saltiness-without raising the blood pressure.

    Read More: "Guy Foods" Lightened

    BEST CLASSIC PRETZEL (A TIE): 365 Organic Crunchy Mini Twists, $2 (8 ounces)
    Whole Foods' house brand offered a buttery flavor balanced with just the right

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  • 7 energy bars that deliver

    As a meal replacer, pre- or post-workout treat, afternoon snack, or protein source, here are our top picks for the best tasting and most nutritious energy bars. - By Maureen Callahan, MS, RD

    Photos: Beau GustafsonPhotos: Beau GustafsonOur Top 7 Energy Bars
    Spreading a little peanut butter on apple slices may be a healthier way to snack, but nothing beats an energy or protein bar for convenience. Trouble is, there are too many choices. So we munched and crunched numbers to find the best bars, ones that delivered on both taste and nutrition. It's a tricky business since a bar might offer lots of fiber (really good) and then negate things with trans fats (really bad). And sugars, even dried fruit, do add up. Here are our top picks for when you're ready to grab-and-go.

    Read More: Pre- and Post-Workout Snacks

    We set the "bar" high. Our criteria for healthy bars: Protein: 4-6 grams; Fiber: 5 grams (but 3 will work); Fat: mostly heart-healthy fats; Carbs: mostly whole grains with 10-20 grams sugar

    Read More: 12

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  • Good-for-you grilled burgers

    Find juicy, grilled burgers that are also good for you: not only beef, but salmon, lamb, and turkey, too.

    Photo: Charles Masters; Styling: Thom DriverPhoto: Charles Masters; Styling: Thom DriverBetter, Lighter Burgers
    The great American burger has been gaining weight like a cartoon sumo wrestler lately. In fast-food joints and fancy restaurants alike, it's all about superdupersizing.

    Read More: Portion Size Wise

    It's time to reclaim America's national food for folks who want to grill a juicy, delicious, and satisfying burger that is plenty big enough but fits into a healthy diet, too. The secrets to healthy burgers are now revealed. Less fat in the patty requires a few tricks in the kitchen to keep things juicy; those tricks are here. If you like it simple, try the brisket cheese-burger. If you like spice, the poblano burger is very nice. If you want fish, the salmon burger is the alpha and the omega 3 of fishburgers. There are flavors for every palate. So fire up the grill this weekend and get your better, lighter burger summer going.

    Recipes: All-American

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  • Guilt-free lasagna

    A trim yet tasty chicken-and-ham casserole is easier on the waistline―and conscience―of a Maine reader.

    Photo: Randy Mayor; Styling: Melanie J. ClarkePhoto: Randy Mayor; Styling: Melanie J. ClarkeTHE READER: Courtney A. Sparks, 29, graduate student and office manager for a real estate and construction company, Casco, Maine

    THE RECIPE: Chicken-Ham Lasagna

    THE STORY: Sparks first tried the lasagna recipe at work, when a coworker brought in leftovers. The rich and creamy dish was a hit, so she asked for the recipe and prepared it at home for her husband, Travis, a lasagna enthusiast. They both liked the results, which had lots of cream, cheese, and noodles. But Sparks, who tries to prepare healthful recipes and reasonable portions, knew it could be lighter. That way, she says, this casserole would be the type of dish she would take to a potluck or make for an everyday family dinner.

    Dinner Tonight: Pasta

    THE DILEMMA: With more than a cup of butter and a pint of half-and-half, plenty of whole milk, and a half-pound of cheese, Sparks says a serving "almost sank into

    Read More »from Guilt-free lasagna

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