Gifts We Love (and How to Use Them)
We all want to give presents that will be appreciated, right? We've rounded up pretty yet practical objects that will get a workout.
A HEALTHY IMMUNE system doesn't come from vitamin C alone; you need a calibrated combination of different nutrients. Certain foods in particular bolster your defenses not only during cold and flu season but all year long. This soothing, hearty soup combines six immunity-boosting ingredients, making each bowlful a prevention powerhouse.
Active: 30 min. Total: 1 hr.
This recipe yields a big pot of brothy soup that you can make ahead and enjoy for a couple of days; the flavor just gets better over time. You may be wary of the large amount of garlic, but keep in mind that it mellows considerably after being cooked.
SERVES 8 (serving size: 1½ cups)
CALORIES 253; FAT 6.5g (sat 1g, mono 3g, poly 0.9g); PROTEIN 28g; CARB 22g; FIBER 6g; SUGARS 5g (est. added sugars 0g); CHOL 54mg; IRON 2mg; SODIUM 581mg; CALC 116mg
UP YOUR GAME this year by exploring the food trends that will have you eating better, healthier, and more sustainably.
SWEET POTATO LEAVES A perfect example of no-waste, root-to-fruit cooking, these tender, lightly peppery leaves work in the same ways you would use spinach or kale. Find them at farmers markets and Asian groceries.
GRADE B (DARK) MAPLE SYRUP It's brimming with more antioxidants and deeper maple flavor than Grade A. Available at most super markets.
FERMENTED VEGGIES Fermented raw produce delivers gut-healthy probiotics. We love the organic offerings from Caldwell's, such as beets and carrots. wisechoicemarket.com
EXO CRICKET FLOUR PROTEIN BARS Eco-friendly cricket flour packs protein and iron into these chewy, delicious snacks. exoprotein.com
SKYR This Icelandic low-fat, high-protein dairy is loaded with live cultures and is creamy-smooth and even thicker than Greek yogurt. Our faves are Icelandic Provisions and Siggi's, available at stores nationwide.
BEYOND MEAT BURGERS Vegans and vegetarians rejoice: Beyond Meat's plant-based burgers, with a whopping 20g protein per patty, offer a pretty darn close approximation of ground beef taste and texture. At Whole Foods.
THE DO-IT-YOURSELF craze for making condiments and other typically store-bought foods is admirable and impressive, but not always practical. Case in point: Seventeen-ingredient homemade Worcestershire sauce? Mmmm, nope. But some foods are absolutely worth making yourself, especially if they're cheap, easy, and more delicious than anything you can buy.
Take labneh, the strained Middle Eastern yogurt—it's hard to find at stores and pricey when you do. In our version, two staple ingredients and one day of giddy anticipation yield the richest, creamiest healthy spread imaginable. And DIY can be incredibly instructive: Scratch-made sauerkraut is like a hands-on class in fermentation science, where you watch cabbage and salt turn day-by-day into tasty relish, with customizable tang and crunch. Try your hand at these two simple projects, and you'll be hooked.
Active: 15 min. Total: 2 weeks
Sauerkraut is an easy entry point to the glories of fermentation. It's easy to make and nearly foolproof, and you can let it ferment to suit your taste (the longer it goes, the softer and more sour it gets).
SERVES 16 (serving size: ¼ cup)
CALORIES 15; FAT 0.1g; PROTEIN 1g; CARB 3g; FIBER 2g; SUGARS 2g (est. added sugars 0g); CHOL 0mg; IRON 0mg; SODIUM 250mg; CALC 24mg
Active: 5 min. Total: 24 hr. 5 min.
Labneh (LEB-neigh) is a strained yogurt with a rich texture similar to whipped cream cheese. Use as a bagel spread, or drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with Aleppo pepper for a dip, as shown.
SERVES 10 (serving size: 2 Tbsp.)
CALORIES 26; FAT 1.6g (sat 1g, mono 0.4g, poly 0.1g); PROTEIN 2g; CARB 1g; FIBER 0g; SUGARS 3g (est. added sugars 0g); CHOL 6mg; IRON 0mg; SODIUM 110mg; CALC 40mg
CLEAN EATING means simple cooking: fresh, seasonal ingredients prepared with minimal fuss so the whole foods can shine. The trick? Do more with less. These three dinners show you exactly how, with smart technique tips to make every bite sing.
Active: 15 min. Total: 15 min.
Shaving raw root veggies into a side-dish salad is a fantastic approach. They're ready in just a few minutes, their earthy flavors stay vibrant, and a simple vinaigrette tenderizes them while retaining some crunch.
SERVES 4 (serving size: 1 tuna steak and about 1¼ cups salad)
CALORIES 366; FAT 15.6g (sat 2.4g, mono 11.2g, poly 1.9g); PROTEIN 43g; CARB 12g; FIBER 3g; SUGARS 8g (est. added sugars 1g); CHOL 66mg; IRON 2mg; SODIUM 636mg; CALC 37mg
Active: 15 min. Total: 25 min.
This one-pan meal is a crowd-pleaser and testament to how 4 ingredients can come together to form a supremely satisfying dish, ready in a flash. We broil the steak over the veggies so the meat juices baste them as they cook.
SERVES 4 (serving size: 3 oz. steak and about 1 cup vegetables)
CALORIES 289; FAT 15g (sat 4g, mono 7.9g, poly 0.8g); PROTEIN 26g; CARB 13g; FIBER 3g; SUGARS 3g (est. added sugars 0g); CHOL 39mg; IRON 1mg; SODIUM 574mg; CALC 32mg
Active: 23 min. Total: 23 min.
Use a stainless steel pan instead of a nonstick here, if possible. A stainless surface will better collect fond (also known as browned bits) from the pork, which is then deglazed to lend rich flavor to the mushrooms and onions as they cook.
SERVES 4 (serving size: 3 oz. pork and about 1 cup mushroom mixture)
CALORIES 243; FAT 9.8g (sat 1.4g, mono 5.3g, poly 2.5g); PROTEIN 27g; CARB 12g; FIBER 2g; SUGARS 6g (est. added sugars 0g); CHOL 74mg; IRON 2mg; SODIUM 560mg; CALC 25mg
WHEN IT COMES TO SUGAR, how it's delivered makes all the difference. Naturally occurring sugars in fruit, veggies, and even milk typically don't need to be on your worry list as they come bundled with nutrients, fiber, vitamins, and antioxidant benefits. But added sugars—sweeteners in processed food, from cane sugar to honey and high-fructose corn syrup—deserve scrutiny.
IT'S EASY TO BLOW your added-sugar budget on a few small bites of dessert—sweets are often loaded with empty calories and void of benefits. Instead, try a treat you can actually feel good about. These rich chocolate-hazelnut bites don't have a grain of added sugar, and they're packed with protein, fiber, and nutrients. Best of all, they taste divine. Naturally sweet dates blended with creamy almond butter, cocoa, and a hint of salt form a perfectly balanced bite (two, in fact) that leaves you satisfied.
Active: 20 min. Total: 1 hr. 10 min.
These two-bite treats taste rich and indulgent, with absolutely no added sugar. Each also contains 3g fiber and 3g protein. We find one to be satisfying, but don't feel bad about eating two—that's only 222 calories. Store chilled in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
SERVES 20 (serving size: 1 brownie bite)
CALORIES 111; FAT 7g (sat 0.8g, mono 4.4g, poly 1.4g); PROTEIN 3g; CARB 12g; FIBER 3g; SUGARS 9g (est. added sugars 0g); CHOL 0mg; IRON 1mg; SODIUM 47mg; CALC 41mg
IF YOU'RE NOT a water person, tossing back 64 or more ounces a day can seem punishing. One little trick makes it less daunting, and even kind of fun: the rubber band challenge. At the start of the day, put rubber bands around your water bottle—the number of bands is determined by the size of your bottle and your personal intake goal (on a 20-ounce bottle, you might use three bands). When you finish the bottle, remove a rubber band. Refill and repeat. Cooking Light staffers swear by this approach. "It's more about a game than actually drinking water—and hydration is the prize for playing the game," says Senior Designer Nicole Gerrity.
MANY OF US instinctively go for a sweet, starchy breakfast—jam-topped bagels, honey-tinged wheat flakes, syrup-drizzled waffles—but research shows that refined flour and sugar are the worst foods to eat after an overnight fast. "[Sugar] rapidly raises blood sugar at a time the body is least able to process it, with adverse effects throughout the day," says David Ludwig, director of the Optimal Weight for Life Program at Boston Children's Hospital. Concentrated sugars may give you a quick boost, but you'll crash by midmorning, drowsy and unable to concentrate.
THE FIX Switch up your morning routine and think savory. A sensible diet has a little wiggle room for added sugars, but don't use them all up by 9 a.m. Breaking the fast with whole grains, berries, and even vegetables gives you a far better chance to hit daily fiber goals, stay full until lunch, and avoid that midmorning slump. Check out our six simple upgrades for standard sweet breakfasts—some save you more than a day's worth of added sugar.
The Usual: Instant flavored oatmeal
The Upgrade: 1 cup steel-cut (or overnight) oats topped with ⅓ cup thinly sliced avocado + ¼ cup pico de gallo + 1 Tbsp. crumbled feta cheese + 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
The Savings: 12g added sugar
CALORIES 272; FAT 12.3g (sat 3g, mono 6.1g, poly 1.9g); PROTEIN 8g; CARB 36g; FIBER 7g; SUGARS 4g (est. added sugars 1g); CHOL 8mg; IRON 14mg; SODIUM 365mg; CALC 240mg
The Usual: Refined-flour waffle with butter and syrup
The Upgrade: 1 frozen whole-grain waffle (such as Van's 8 Whole Grains) + ¾ oz. thinly sliced smoked salmon + 1 poached egg + 1½ tsp. chopped fresh dill + 1½ tsp. chopped fresh chives
The Savings: 20g added sugar
CALORIES 173; FAT 8.2g (sat 1.6g, mono 1.8g, poly 1g); PROTEIN 14g; CARB 13g; FIBER 4g; SUGARS 1g (est. added sugars 0g); CHOL 196mg; IRON 2mg; SODIUM 596mg; CALC 58mg
The Usual: 2 pieces of white-bread French toast with berry compote and powdered sugar
The Upgrade: 2 slices whole-grain French toast + 1 slice cooked and crumbled center-cut bacon + ¼ cup thinly sliced pear + 1 Tbsp. shaved Parmesan cheese
The Savings: 45g added sugar
CALORIES 294; FAT 10.7g (sat 3.9g, mono 2.7g, poly 2.1g); PROTEIN 18g; CARB 32g; FIBER 5g; SUGARS 8g (est. added sugars 2g); CHOL 199mg; IRON 2mg; SODIUM 519mg; CALC 151mg
The Usual: White-flour bagel with cream cheese and strawberry jam
The Upgrade: 1 toasted whole-grain English muffin, split + 2 Tbsp. hummus + 2 Tbsp. shaved carrot + 2 Tbsp. shaved zucchini + 2 tsp. roasted salted sunflower seeds
The Savings: 30g added sugar
CALORIES 229; FAT 8.7g (sat 1.3g, mono 0.5g, poly 1.8g); PROTEIN 8g; CARB 30g; FIBER 6g; SUGARS 2g (est. added sugars 1g); CHOL 0mg; IRON 3mg; SODIUM 361mg; CALC 90mg
The Usual: Yogurt with honey and granola
The Upgrade: ¾ cup plain 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt (or skyr) + 2 Tbsp. thinly sliced cucumber + 6 halved cherry tomatoes + 1 Tbsp. toasted walnuts + 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
The Savings: 23g added sugar
CALORIES 220; FAT 12.9g (sat 3.4g, mono 4g, poly 4g); PROTEIN 16g; CARB 12g; FIBER 2g; SUGARS 10g (est. added sugars 0g); CHOL 11mg; IRON 1mg; SODIUM 62mg; CALC 132mg
The Usual: Honey-cluster oat cereal
The Upgrade: 2 large shredded wheat biscuits soaked in ½ cup 1% reduced-fat milk + ⅓ cup thinly sliced banana + 1½ tsp. warm almond butter + 1½ tsp. toasted sliced almonds + dash of ground cinnamon
The Savings: 13g added sugar
CALORIES 322; FAT 8.2g (sat 1.5g, mono 3.9g, poly 2g); PROTEIN 12g; CARB 57g; FIBER 9g; SUGARS 13g (est. added sugars 0g); CHOL 6mg; IRON 2mg; SODIUM 72mg; CALC 212mg
ABOUT THAT CUP OF COFFEE you need first thing in the morning to rev your motor: It's a waste of perfectly good caffeine. Why? Your body's level of cortisol—an energizing hormone triggered by stress and low blood sugar—peaks early in the morning, and the hormone flows freely up until about 10 a.m. Caffeine inhibits cortisol production, leaving you with less energy. So your system comes to rely on caffeine, which is ultimately less effective than a natural "stress hormone" boost. Moreover, you build caffeine tolerance in the long term.
The solution is simple: Wean yourself off the early-morning cup, and soon you'll find that hormones get you humming instead. Cortisol levels drop as the day wears on, so your coffee will have the biggest energy impact between 10 a.m. and noon and again in the afternoon starting around 2 p.m.
THERE'S NO SHAME in a little adult beverage indulgence over the holidays—it's fun, and you earned it. But it can take a toll on mind and body. With party season in the rearview, now's the time for moderation (maybe you even want to try a dry January). But you can still enjoy delicious drinks. These three simple soda bases have just a handful of fresh ingredients and spices that deliver bold flavor and fizzy refreshment with a fraction of the sugar in store-bought soda. And no special equipment is required: Just mix the syrup with seltzer water. To your health!
Active: 7 min. Total: 1 hr. 7 min.
Combine 9 Tbsp. brown sugar, ¾ cup water, 6 peppercorns, 4 cinnamon sticks (broken into small pieces), 3 allspice berries, 3 cloves, and 1 crushed cardamom pod in a saucepan over medium-high; bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat; steep 1 hour. Strain syrup; discard solids. Cool completely. Stir 1½ Tbsp. syrup into 1 cup (or more, depending on desired flavor) seltzer water. Store syrup chilled up to 2 weeks.
CALORIES 44; FAT 0g; PROTEIN 0g; CARB 12g; FIBER 0g; SUGARS 10g (est. added sugars 10g); CHOL 0mg; IRON 4mg; SODIUM 3mg; CALC 11mg
Active: 15 min. Total: 1 hr. 15 min.
Combine 9 Tbsp. sugar; 1 cup water; ⅔ cup fresh pink grapefruit juice; 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice; and the rinds, peeled in strips, of 2 lemons and 2 large pink grapefruit in a saucepan over medium-high. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat; steep 1 hour. Strain syrup; discard solids. Cool completely. Stir 5 tsp. syrup into 1 cup (or more, depending on desired flavor) seltzer water. Store syrup chilled up to 2 weeks.
CALORIES 43; FAT 0g; PROTEIN 0g; CARB 11g; FIBER 0g; SUGARS 10g (est. added sugars 9g); CHOL 0mg; IRON 0mg; SODIUM 0mg; CALC 4mg
Active: 14 min. Total: 1 hr. 14 min.
Combine 9 Tbsp. sugar; 1½ cups water; ¾ tsp. celery seed; 4 finely chopped celery stalks; and the rind, peeled in strips, of 1 lemon in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat; steep 1 hour. Strain syrup; discard solids. Cool completely. Stir 4 tsp. syrup into 1 cup (or more, depending on desired flavor) seltzer water. Store syrup chilled up to 2 weeks.
CALORIES 38; FAT 0g; PROTEIN 0g; CARB 10g; FIBER 0g; SUGARS 10g (est. added sugars 10g); CHOL 0mg; IRON 0mg; SODIUM 3mg; CALC 6mg
SNACKS CAN BE a delicious part of a healthy approach to eating, and the number of smarter choices on the market is increasing. We've selected the following options, which keep sodium and calories in check and provide the salty-sweet-crunchy satisfaction to carry you through a busy afternoon, no matter what's on your plate.
We all want to give presents that will be appreciated, right? We've rounded up pretty yet practical objects that will get a workout.
Lessons learned after a six-month, 45,000-mile odyssey through hundreds of restaurants in 20 cities: eat more bread, do more day drinking and don't pass up the bologna.
It’s officially party season. Time to invite friends over, fire up the grill, and chill the rosé. We tapped the coolest.