How to Eat Healthy When Dining Out

You really never know how a meal is prepared when you’re eating out, and even the healthiest seeming salad can be packed with fattening cheeses, heavy oils, and excessive amounts of sodium. Instead of boycotting restaurants, use these smart tips for eating healthy while eating out.

  1. Know the lingo. When navigating the menu, recognize that words like “crispy,” “au gratin,” “creamed,” or “battered” are just as bad as “deep-fried.” Instead, look for dishes that are “grilled,” “poached,” or “roasted.”
  2. Choose restaurants with healthy or light menus. If you want to make navigating the menu even easier, research which restaurant chains offer separate menus of healthier dishes.
  3. Avoid appetizers. Instead of ordering extra food before your meal even arrives, eat your healthy entree and then reevaluate to see if you’re still hungry.
  4. Ask for sauces on the side. If you order a salad with dressing or a sandwich with a creamy sauce, ask for it on the side and only use as much as you need.
  5. Ask for a to-go box with your order. If your biggest challenge is overindulging, there’s no shame in packaging a portion of your meal up before you begin eating. This will ensure that you don’t go overboard.
  6. Don’t skip dessert. No, you don’t have to pass on dessert; just opt for healthier treats like fresh fruit, sherbet, or flourless cakes.

Deciphering the Menu [American Heart Association]
Ordering Your Meal [American Heart Association]
Tips for Eating Healthy When Eating Out [USDA]
It's About Eating Right [Eat Right]

Tips for Properly Cleaning Your Wooden Cutting Boards

If you’ve ever owned a wooden cutting board, you know just how finicky they can be. These kitchen essentials are ideal for chopping vegetables or serving a cheese platter, but they’re also very difficult to clean. Here are four smart tips to help you properly clean your cutting board.

  1. Use vinegar as a disinfectant. Using soap and water on your cutting board can cause it to weaken or crack. Instead, disinfect it with a full-strength white vinegar after each use to kill E coli, salmonella, and other dangerous bacteria.
  2. Remove odor with lemons. Rub your cutting board all over with the cut side of half a lemon in order to remove the odors left behind by onions, meat, or crushed garlic.
  3. Deep clean with baking soda. Every so often, deep clean your cutting board with baking soda to ensure that no bacteria is lurking beneath the surface. Scrub it with a paste made of one tablespoon each of baking soda, water, and salt.
  4. Remove stains with salt. If your cutting board is covered in oil stains, remove them by sprinkling each stain with coarse salt and scrubbing with a sponge dipped in hot water. Repeat as needed until the stain is completely gone.

How to Clean a Cutting Board: 7 Effective Treatments [Reader’s Digest]
5 Ways to Clean a Wooden Cutting Board [Food Network]
How to Clean a Wooden Cutting Board [Paula Deen]
Clean Wooden Cutting Boards Naturally with Lemon and Salt [The Kitchn]

How to Prepare Butternut Squash for Cooking

Butternut squash is very versatile, but if you’ve never prepared it before it may seem a bit confusing. Although it has an odd shape, butternut squash is fairly simple to prepare if you know the proper techniques. Follow these simple steps to peel and prep your squash like a pro.

  1. Slice off both ends of the squash using a large, sharp knife. It’s very important that the knife is sharp, as a dull knife requires more pressure from you and may result in a dangerous slip.
  2. Peel the entire squash using an extra strong peeler, preferably one made with carbon steel blades. Because the squash is curved in the middle, it’s best to peel lengthwise.
  3. Cut the squash in half at its center, which is approximately between the thin “neck” and the larger “body” portion.
  4. Slice the neck portion down the center to create flat, cylindrical pieces. Then, slice these pieces into wide strips and eventually cut them down into cubes.
  5. To cut the body, first slice it in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds and innards with a spoon. Finally, slice the two pieces into cubes the same way that you did with the neck.

How to Peel and Cut a Butternut Squash [The Kitchn]
How to Peel and Cut Butternut Squash [Cooking Light]
7 Steps to Cook Butternut Squash [Good Housekeeping]

Refuel and Replenish by Eating These Foods After a Workout

The foods that you eat before your workout help to increase your energy level, but it’s the food that you eat afterward that’s really important. What you eat after exercising helps to repair muscle tissue and to replenish glycogen, which is an important aspect of building the lean, toned body that you strive for. Here are some of the best foods to refuel with after a workout.

  1. Bananas. Bananas are high-glycemic carbohydrates, which provide you with an instant boost to replenish your energy quickly. Try slicing one up and eating it with peanut butter on top of a rice cake.
  2. Greek yogurt with berries. Greek yogurt is packed with protein, which is very important in building muscle. Your muscles are depleted of their usual amino acids after lifting weights or performing an intense cardio workout, and this healthy snack helps to build them back up.
  3. Tuna sandwich. The combination of healthy carbs and proteins is one of the very best things to eat after working out. Spread some tuna on whole wheat bread to refuel after that gym class.
  4. Water. Replenishing your body’s fluids is just as important as replenishing its food supply. Be sure to drink plenty of water after working out to avoid becoming dehydrated.

6 Smart Snacks to Eat After Your Workout [Fitness Magazine]
What to Eat After You Work Out [Spark People]
Food as Fuel – Before, During and After Workouts [American Heart Association]

Cream Of The Crop: Essential Farmers’ Market Eats

Farmer’s markets are cropping up all over the country, as people become more and more interested in getting food from local sources. Producers are bringing fresh food at great prices. Here are five foods you should certainly try from the farmer’s market next time you go:

Eggs are one of the best things to get fresh. The difference in consistency and flavor between a store-bought egg and one fresh from the hen is jarring. The yolk is brighter, firmer, and much tastier. If your farmer offers duck eggs, try those too – they fluff up amazingly and are great for baking.

Potatoes might seem like a funny thing to buy from a farmer’s market, but they are amazing. Usually much smaller than store-bought spuds, fresh potatoes are deeply flavorful and complex. Slice them thinly and roast them with onions.

Seasonal tomatoes are some of the best things to buy at the farmer’s market. In the late summer and early fall, when they’re coming fresh off the vine, you can get enormous heirloom tomatoes that are great for sandwiches or just eating with a little salt and pepper.

One of the best things to do with farmer’s market produce is teach yourself about pickling and canning. If you’ve never made pickled beets, they’re a delicious treat – sweet, tangy, salty, and savory all at once.

Local cheeses can be delectable as well. Many dairies produce artisanal cheeses that are robust with flavor. They also often provide samples to try before you buy.

Slow And Green: Vegetarian Cooking In The Crockpot

We all know how good slow cookers and crockpots are great for dealing with tough cuts of meat, but did you know that there are also tons of amazing recipes that use the device for vegetarian ends? If you’re looking for some fun new meal ideas, here are five to get you started.

Chili is one of the best things to make in a slow cooker, and it’s easy to do a vegetarian version. Use several different kinds of beans for hearty flavor and mix in a variety of chopped vegetables, including bell peppers, celery and kernels of corn. Flavor with paprika, parsley, oregano and basil and add chili powder to your desired level of heat.

If you’ve got summer squash, it’s easy to make a delicious, cheesy dish in the slow cooker with it and some cheese. Simmer the squash and onions in a pot until softened, then mix in the slow cooker with a bit of soft, flavorful cheese such as Gouda. This is an awesome side dish.

Some grains do really well in the slow cooker. One favorite recipe is mushroom, lentil and barley stew. This dish harnesses the deep and complex flavors of mushrooms to add interest to the lentils and barley. It’s a robust and earthy dish that is filling on a cold winter’s afternoon.

Slow cookers are exceptional for making applesauce, as they keep the fruit at a stable temperature and allow it to break down evenly without lumps. To make your applesauce a little more flavorful, try adding allspice or pumpkin pie spice.

A traditional French cassoulet requires a lot of meat to prepare properly, but you can make an excellent vegetarian version in your slow cooker. Soften onions and carrots in a skillet and add mushroom broth, bouillon and bay leaves as well as white beans. Stir occasionally as they cook.