I don't really diet actually. I'm big on balance, so if I've had a weekend of rich restaurant meals, I follow it up with nutritious food prepared very simply. The real trick is making satisfying meals that fill you up. Greens, for example, are easy to prepare healthfully and you can eat a bushel of them for very few calories.
Soup is another great food for restoring dietary balance because you can make it filling and healthy and still eat a ton of it. Since last week was too hot for soup around here, I wanted something light and spicy, so I made this pasta dish with sauteed broccoli raab, chickpeas and whole wheat fettucine.
Take a look at that big, 12-inch skillet full of delicious, hearty pasta. All that food consists of just 4 oz. of pasta, a cup of beans and one bunch of greens. It's the right amount for two very healthy meals that aren't the least bit skimpy or "diety." I sort of just put this one together without a recipe, and I liked it so much that it's totally a keeper. Here's what you do:
Whole Wheat Pasta with Broccoli Raab and Chickpeas
- Trim and chop up one big bunch of broccoli raab and blanch for 3 minutes in boiling water. Transfer greens from pot to a colander with a slotted spoon and drain. Keep the water boiling, add salt and cook 4 oz. of whole wheat fettucine or linguine.
- Meanwhile, heat 1 tbs. olive oil in a large skillet. Saute 3 fat cloves of garlic, slivered, hot pepper flakes to taste and the drained broccoli raab until stems are tender. Add 1 cup rinsed and drained chickpeas; season with salt and pepper. Add 8 roughly chopped kalamata olives.
- Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water and drain pasta. Add pasta to skillet and toss. Add about 1/2 cup pasta water to moisten and use more if you like. Squeeze some lemon juice on pasta and check seasoning. Dish into 2 bowls and top each with 2 tbs. grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Makes great leftovers.
Another favorite (and easy!) healthy dinner is baked salmon with mashed sweet potatoes, so that's what I had the following night. I do nothing with my salmon but coat it with cooking spray, season with salt, pepper and maybe spices like cumin and chile powder. Roast it at 400 for around 20 minutes and it's completely delicious. The only things I add to my mashed sweet potatoes are a little milk and spices like cinnamon and chile powder (and of course salt and pepper). Another healthy favorite is salmon with lentils - it really doesn't get more nutritious or satisfying than that.
When I want to eat really well, I also pay close attention to my portion sizes, even measuring and counting calories. I've sort of had an automatic calorie counter in my head since I was a teenager and, for better or worse, it does help to know just how much you're really eating.
This weekend, we're still eating pretty healthy, and we might make a batch of my carrot-ginger-curry soup, which Mike loved. There was also still plenty of room to include pizza - our favorite Friday night staple - in our healthy eating plan.
We came up with this pizza as we were sitting around waiting to have our taxes finished yesterday afternoon. It was Mike's idea to put our favorite dish from our favorite tapas bar - mushrooms in a creamy sherry sauce - on a pizza (with my whole wheat pizza crust, of course). We added shredded chicken and shaved Manchego cheese. It was an awesome and rather healthy dinner along with some Italian red wine.
So that's how I diet...what are the tricks you use when you want to eat healthy?