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I'm tired of healthy food

Help me like it again. What's your favorite lean and leafy recipe?

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  1. Not necessarily leafy stuff, but my big hurdle with healthy food has been white-flour foods (bread, pasta). I'm not a fan of brown rice, bulghur, or a lot of other whole grains.

    My best discoveries have been: barley cooked in chicken broth (substitutes well for small pasta shapes in recipes), quinoa (substitutes well for rice in many recipes), and brown rice cereal (makes a great substitute for grits and polenta).

    1. Salmon or Tuna rubbed & pan seared over spinach, either a salad with vinaigrette or sauteed in olive oil.

      Seared scallops over sauteed swiss chard.

      Swordfish steak in red wine reduction with baby bok choy. (wasabi + soy in the reduction)

      1 Reply
      1. re: luniz

        those are really good, basic recommendations.

      2. Not a fan of leafy greens like salads. But cooked greens I like - spinach, bok choy, broccoli, chinese broccoli (and a bit of oyster sauce, yum!). Any of those with a tiny bit of olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice.

        I've started to really enjoy roasted veggies, too. Last night I broke up a head of cauliflower and tossed with with olive oil (not too much, just a thin coating on parts), garlic (I love garlic, sorry), and cumin. I also tossed in some beets in foil (to eat another night). Sweet potatoes are also good, as are squash, asparagus, parsnips, and apparently kale (I haven't tried it).

        I like fish as a lower-fat dish over chicken... salmon and scallops are good. If the salmon is quality, all you need to dress it is some salt and lemon.

        Barley is my favorite rice-sub. Since it's chewier than rice, it takes me longer to eat it (no scarfing down) and I tend to eat less than I would if it were white rice. However, I do use white rice with Thai curries because it just tastes so much better soaking up the sauce.

        I hate healthy food, too, but I've found that simple (i.e. not dredged in sauces) meals are good when you use citrus, herbs, spices, and vinegars.

        1. Braised kale. I love this stuff! Packed with vitamins, iron, and antioxidants, and full of rich, tangy goodness. You can use as much or as little oil as you like (and remember to use a heart-healthy oil).

          I learned how to cook and love this vegetable from a recipe in this thread:

          And there are some other nice recipes in this thread:

          Also, scroll down in the second thread to see the post about Caldo Verde (Kale & Potato soup) - this soup is lean and leafy and really fabulous.


          1. chicken stock with some garlic and ginger simmered for a few minutes, then add chopped watercress. cook down and finish with cubed tofu and red pepper.

            same method to cook broccoli, but i add some hot and sour soup paste and edamame.

            1 Reply
            1. I'm a big fan of meal salads, year-round. You need to use at least a bit of crispy greens like romaine, iceberg or cabbage - the rest can be spinach or whatever other dark greens you ike.

              In the winter, I like to make taco-style salads, with sautéed peppers, portobellos and onions, salsa and warm fat-free refried beans or veg chili on top. Or I'll do and Indian-style salad with daal and roasted veggies on the greens (maybe even some paneer or cottage cheese).

              One that tastes decadent is greens and roasted veggies topped with a poached egg and a few parmesan shavings.

              Also, Asian-style salads that are basically a stir-fry on greens instead of rice. You can add tofu or edamame for protein, or toss in seaweed for minerals and an extra kick. If you don't want to make the dressing/sauce, try Newman's Own Lighten Up! Sesame Ginger.

              9 Replies
              1. re: piccola

                I made one of EMeril's recipes, a first time for me, and to my surprise, all the ulra food snobbies in my family loved it. Roasted butternut squash on top of greens with a maple creme fraiche dressing. I made the creme fraiche from whipping cream and buttermilk because you can't buy it here, but it was really good. It's on the Food Network website. It's nice because you don't really feel like you are eating salad, according to the salad haters.

                1. re: alex8alot

                  creme fraiche made from cream and buttermilk isn't very healthy, even though it's a salad.

                  1. re: luniz

                    a little bit in the dressing isn't going to kill you. It isn't monounsaturated fat, obviously, but you can cut it with evoo to lighten it I suppose

                    1. re: alex8alot

                      But, those "oh a little bit won't hurt"s add up fast! And cream and butter milk are pretty darned big "little bit"s!

                      1. re: abowes

                        It is very difficult to buy anything other than lowfat buttermilk these days, so perhaps, if the ratio of cream to buttermilk errs in favor of the buttermilk, this truly isn't a very decadent dressing. I'm not sure--I've never made creme fraiche, but I just thought I'd throw it out there since there seems to be somewhat of a misconception that buttermilk is high in fat, when in actuality full-fat buttermilk is almost impossible to find, at least here in Philadelphia. I believe that lowfat buttermilk is comparable to 1% or 2% in terms of its fat/calorie composition. Thanks!

                        1. re: abowes

                          Buttermilk is not fatty in the least bit, especially if you (as noted right here) buy low fat. It's a viable flavor ingredient for those looking to cut calories and fat in their diets and add flavor.

                      2. re: luniz

                        My MD doesn't find cream or buttermilk un-healthy. What he does find un-healthy are sugars, flour, and most products made with them. All things in moderation, even a daily dose of dark chocolate

                        1. re: Candy

                          Dark chocolate with a high cocoa content is actually great for you. Mood enhancer, anti-oxidant, etc etc.

                          1. re: ballulah

                            Oh I know. Give me 70-85% dark and I am one happy camper.

                  2. I am recently on a Mache kick.
                    Great base for a yummy salad.

                    - get a big plate and pile on the mache
                    - add dollops of cottage cheese or low/non fat sour cream
                    - add you favorite veggie-steamed
                    - optional: shrimp or chicken breast, etc...
                    - drizzle with a fun sauce

                    fun sauces:
                    - your favorite BBQ sauce from a bottle
                    - grainy mustard blended with orange juice
                    - miso/soy sauce/rice vinegar/sesame oil
                    - salsa
                    - nonfat sour cream blended with dill and parsely
                    - etc

                    1. I am not a fan of lettuce-based salads - very boring with minimal nutritional benefit. For texture, flavour, colour (presentation) and, of course, nutrition, I've been making a salad with a variety ingredients, depending on what is fresh and looks good. Some of the favourites are:

                      Broccoli (florets and sliced stems blanched and shocked)
                      Green beans (french cut, blanched and shocked)
                      Yellow beans when in season.
                      Red onion, sliced
                      Tomato, cut into small, bite-sized chunks
                      Sweet corn (fresh off the cobb, cooked ,when in season;other wise canned)
                      kalamatas olives
                      red or yellow bell pepper, cut into chunks
                      water chestnuts, sliced

                      I make a simple vinaigrette and serve with a high quality alabacore tuna or grilled chicken breast. Very simple and oh so yummy!

                      1. Not leafy, but delicious. Salad of chopped mango, chopped jicama, cilantro, with a citrus vinegrette (lime juice, a T of OJ concentrate, a bit of water, a bit of sugar (tsp), salt and pepper, a bit of olive oil). Can add any other fruit you like-- raspberries, strawberries; the original recipe called for cucumber, but I don't use it. Serve this over a bed of lettuce. Incredibly yummy.

                        Fruit salsa or homemade chutney over fish makes it so much more interesting.

                        Lots of good vegetable soup recipes-- a borscht thick with beets, cabbage, onion and carrots; a veggie soup with just enough beef to flavor it, beans instead of noodles or any other starch; mushroom barley soup.

                        I love a big lettuce salad with a chopped apple, some toasted walnuts, purple onion, sprouts, cucumber, tomato, and raisins, with a yogurt-based dressing; this seems so much more special than a standard salad to me. Add feta or other low-fat cheese or a boiled egg to get the protein in there.

                        (Of course, it's easy for me to sit here and give advice. Have I been eating lean and leafy? No. I've been scarfing down Girl Scout cookies.)

                        1. Love egg white omelettes with onions, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, and hearts of palm, and maybe eggplant.

                          Grilled veggies (doused heavily w/ garlic salt--eggplant, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, zucchini, then chopped and stir-fried (w/ Pam) with roasted chicken breast and shirataki noodles, then add in some Bragg's Amino Acids, a little lemon juice, salt and pepper...

                          Love mashed cauliflower and mashed butternut squash (w/ cinnamon and salt)

                          Ahi seared in pam, served w/ ponzu or citrus ponzu

                          Blackened halibut or sole w/ a tomato, onion, and balsamic vinegarette salad

                          Whole wheat tortillas and low fat cheddar and jack for quesadillas

                          Oatmeal pancakes (oats, egg whties, cinnamon, splenda, vanilla)

                          Rice/barley Pudding (FF or LF cottage cheese, barley, cinnamon, splenda, vanilla heated til gooey)

                          I'm a big fan of chicken breasts poached in chicken broth with garlic cloves... I also take chicken breasts cut 5-10 slits in em and stuff with garlic cloves, then put in a pan with more garlic cloves and white onions and chicken broth then bake. Serve w/ roasted veggies.

                          Miso soup w/ greens (collards, kale, mustard), wild mushrooms, aspargus, bragg's, garlic, and tofu or drizzled in egg whites beaten with garlic seasoning.

                          Salmon croquettes made with onions, egg whites, and crushed Ak-Mak crackers, and old bay seasoning.

                          1. Mmmmmm...
                            Lots of these sound yummy. I'm already a big fan of kale and roasted veggies. The fish tends to be of poor quality in my town, which means I eat chicken until I feel like I'm about to start laying eggs myself. Also not much of a tofu lover, though I eat a lot of tempeh. Here's one of my favorites:
                            Cube tempeh and soak in a mixture of water, vinegar, soy/Bragg's, and any spice you like (I often use five spice powder). Fry until golden in a small amount of oil (anyone know if broiling works well with tempeh?). Remove from heat and saute chopped kale. Add some chopped garlic and red pepper flakes, then serve it up over your carbo of choice. I eat a LOT of white rice, so I'm going to give barley a try - I've never had it before.

                            Keep em coming!

                            1. I just made a yummy dinner salad (from the Foster's Market cookbook): shredded roast chicken (I roasted a couple of bone-in breasts); roasted sweet potatoes and shallots (in large chunks, tossed with some olive oil and balsamic, which evaporates to form a balsamic glaze, and some thyme); cooled and tossed together with some shredded fresh basil and a good amount of arugula, in a balsamic vinaigrette. This kept well for about a week (with the arugula stored separately), had nice strong flavors and was incredibly filling.

                              I'm also a big fan of quinoa - this is another good base for a hearty salad that you can make in large quantities on Sunday and take for lunch all week. One of my favorites is quinoa, edamame, pecans and dried cranberries, in balsamic vinaigrette.

                              Finally, last night I made roasted asparagus with two poached eggs on top (with a piece of whole-grain bread). Simple and tasty, and I felt very sophisticated!

                              1. boiled kale, as laid out in the Zuni Cookbook.
                                sounds boring, tastes great.

                                in a small pot
                                sweat a couple sliced onions in a minimum of olive oil (roughly 3 minutes)
                                stir in a couple cloves minced garlic, a pinch of chile flakes, and a bunch of lacinato kale sliced into ribbons - thin as you can get them. Let that cook into a wet mass for a few minutes, stir very little.
                                Add water to cover by at least 1/2" - or up to 1 1/2", if you want it soupy. Simmer for 20 minutes.
                                Salt to taste. Even better, add shaved parmigianno.
                                It shockingly delicious and rich for such a nothing prep.

                                Serve over toast as bruschetta, or poach an egg in the liquid and eat that over toast with the greens. Or just have it as soup with some parm.

                                1. Love mashed cauliflower - I can get the consistency and taste very close to mashed potatoes with my stick blender. Like others, I love chopped salads with minimal to no lettuce, and some type of light vinagrette.

                                  I just did grilled boneless chicken breasts, marinated 20 -30 minutes in fresh lime juice, lots of chopped garlic, olive oil, and coarse sea salt. It was great. I love any of the steamed greens with that.

                                  1. Because of medical reasons, I NEED to eat healthy (basically low GI foods). Thus, I have gotten very creative in making tasty and flavorful dishes. I have a whole slew of dishes and I'm putting together a cookbook. My new favorite is sesame chicken and broccoli, but if you want more let me know and I can list them.

                                    --Chicken (leftover, roasted, cut up breast pieces, grilled, etc)--any kind you want, somewhat shredded
                                    --Broccoli cut up

                                    mix a couple of tbsps of rice vinegar, some garlic, ginger, salt and pepper (a bit of sugar or splenda if you want) in a bowl. Pour over broccoli and chicken and mix. Add a splash of sesame oil and sprinkle sesame seeds (white or black). Mix it and let it marinade.

                                    This is a wonderful dish to eat that you can prepare beforehand and take to work. The longer it sits the better it tastes. You can also warm it up too by stir frying it.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Jacey

                                      That sounds good. Im going to try it. I would also be interested in any other recipes that you are willing to share...Thanks

                                    2. Are you are fan of fresh fruit? Lots of wonderful veggie/salad suggestions so far. Fresh fruit also makes for a wonderfully refreshing meal, lighter main ingred. substitute and dessert choice. Whether its cut up and arranged room temp on a platter, pureed, smoothie or a baked fruit consider adding seasonal fruit to your weekly recipe plans.

                                      Dozens of recipes appear on Chowhound.

                                      1. I think you should fall off the wagon and eat something really bad for you every now and then...a rack of ribs, for instance, or anything with a ton of butter. It's all about moderation and balance...just a little splurge might reawaken your appreciation for 'lean and leafy'.

                                        1. In addition to the above (veggies, salads), I'm a big fan of beans -- my new favorite dish is chickpeas with onions and cooked spinach (or any other dark green), I also carmelize the onions a little for some extra flavor and add some raisons.

                                          1. I don't eat meat and the fish here is not appetizing to me due to mercury levels--but I vered off healthy eating--eating meat and within a few months I was feeling sluggish and not well--so I back to healthy--and feel a lot better-a Greek salad and some soup is great-soup warming on a cold day like today in NYC--I will eat chicken soup even while avoiding meat and poulty because it makes me feel good--

                                            1. For lunch, I have been eating canned tuna mixed with cannelini beans, red onion, cilantro, red wine vinegar, and lemon juice. The sometimes I mix that with cottage cheese, stuff it all into a whole wheat pita and douse it with Choloula Hot Sauce.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: KellBell

                                                Do you worry about eating canned tuna everyday? It is not recommended more than once or twice a week, I believe. The mercury can effect basic decision making, and some peoples hair falls out.
                                                I wish I could have it every day, I love it, but I've learned to alternate with canned trout from Trader Joes-it's delicious and no worry of mercury.

                                                1. re: rabaja

                                                  tj's also often has smoked trout and smoked mackerel which are very healthy too.

                                                  1. re: rabaja

                                                    I don't eat it every day...but I do actually eat it often. So, nope...I guess I don't worry about it. Sometimes, I also use chicken instead of the tuna. I have to eat lots of protein. So, I guess its just an easy way for me to get it. Oh, also I practically OD on Biotin (a B vitamin) because my hair thinned after a surgery and my hairstylist (also my sister) has informed me that my hair is now back thicker and healthier than ever.

                                                2. Bok Choy stir fried as Gingered Greens & Tofu:


                                                  It's so crisp and gingery, with sauce to soak up in your rice.

                                                  1. Thai-inspired shrimp and mango stir-fry:
                                                    Sautee a diced white onion in a bit (a bit!) of oil. Add one diced sweet pepper (I like red for the colour), 1-2 tbsp minced ginger (according to your taste. 2 tbsp is quite spicy) and 1-2 cloves of crushed garlic. Dice one ripe but firm mango. Add to skillet with 1 lb of peeled raw shrimp. Pour over 1/4 cup of mango juice, the juice of one large or two small limes, 1 tbsp of soy sauce and 1/4 cup of orange juice. Cook until shrimp are bright pink and mango has softened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

                                                    I also add a 1/2 tsp of Chinese chili-garlic sauce, and will sometimes throw in some green veg like bok choy or asparagus with the red pepper. I serve this over jasmine rice, but you could do it over brown or another absorbent grain or whole wheat noodle like soba.

                                                    Super easy and tasty, and very healthy.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: Sweet Pea

                                                      That sounds delicious. But beware of recommending soba as a whole wheat noodle, as I did recently. There was a recent thread about this detailing that most soba is made with only a little buckwheat flour but is mostly white flour.

                                                      1. re: Sweet Pea

                                                        Mmmm, this sounds delicious and like something I would consider a treat (which is one of the hard parts about healthy foods - so few "treat" items).

                                                        1. re: renshiwo

                                                          I am definately going to have to try this! Sounds great. I don't eat rice but I will just do the stir fry by itself.

                                                      2. I've been going to international markets and trying produce and spices I never used before, just to give myself a different taste jolt. I tried chayote (not much of a jolt there), culantro (*that* was jolting!), papaya, different kinds of mushrooms. Also try garam masala, cardamom, corriander, saffron, and "specialties" of common spices like smoked paprika and Vietnamese cinnamon from Penzeys. I also bought different kinds of salts (pink Hawaiin, chardonney, gris de mer, smoked) and they are fun but salt is salt.

                                                        1. Last night I decided to try something new: making my Armenian-style pilaf with brown rice. What had put me off of the idea was the fact that the rice I have needs to be rinsed, and I'd thought this would interfere with the parching in butter, but I figured I'd try it anyway...and it worked just fine. Mrs. O even told me she likes it better than the white-rice version, so that's a big hurdle overcome right there!

                                                          Goes like this: 1 cup of rice, 1 cup (or a bit less) of crushed angel-hair vermicelli (the kind that comes in nests), 2 Tbs butter, 2 cups of chicken broth, cayenne and salt to taste. Melt the butter in a 2 1/2 qt. pan and cook the vermicelli in that, with a good sprinkling of cayenne, stirring with a wooden spoon until it's golden brown. Then stir in the rice, and keep cooking until the rice grains begin to turn chalky white. Pour in the broth all at once - it WILL foam up - give it a good stir, add some salt, and put the lid on. When it threatens to boil over turn the heat down to low, and simmer very gently for about 40 minutes, or until the liquid is all absorbed. Put a folded dish towel between pot and lid and let it sit for about ten minutes, then fluff with a fork and serve.