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Tell me your favorite HEALTHY, but delicious recipes that may or may not require effort and are semi-exciting and creative! (Is that too tall of an order?)

Let me start by saying that I'm not one of those girls obsessed with staying thin. I don't count every calorie that goes into my mouth; I can't think of anything more cumbersome, or more of a buzz kill unless you're on a diet and trying to lose some weight, which I'm not. I just try to make sure that 5 days a week, I watch it, especially for breakfast and lunch. Friday night and Saturday and Sunday are when I might allow myself extra calories (not all day, but at least at one meal) and cook exciting new dishes or go out to dinner with family, friends, or my fiance.

But generally, I tend to be a good girl during the week for the sake of my figure, and that means I sometimes fall into a rut, especially once July hits. Does anyone else get like this, or am I the only one doing this entire season wrong? I mean, I ADORE the Farmer's Market. I delight in purple potatoes and heirloom tomatoes and gorgeous asparagus stalks and green garlic and summer squash and sweet corn and mango and strawberries and cherries and the 739282828 other items you can find around this time of year. And the seafood is amazing and people are busting out their barbecues and pouring a lot of fine wine.

Yet I find myself growing bored and restless with everything come the 4th of July. For months on end, I regularly wind up grilling chicken with herbs or broiling tilapia or salmon with fruit salsa or lemon and olive oil, and then sauteing or roasting vegetables, or sometimes having wheat pasta with grilled produce and protein. Or I make big salads with various greens and fruit and some grilled/roasted/lightly sauteed prawns. Yawn. It's all delicious from mid-March to late June, and then I hit a wall.

What recipes do you make when you want to:

1) Stay moderately healthy, at least in the sense that you are not drowning yourself in cream and butter and all things fried;
2) Eat something filled with flavor;
3) Fill your plate with a dish that isn't necessarily boring;
4) Say that you cooked something that takes more thought that throwing a steak on the grill and tossing a vinaigrette?

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

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  1. It's funny, I get the same exact way, except in the winter time. I go crazy and say, "If I eat one more root vegetable or another helping of cranberry sauce, I'm gonna lose it!"

    For me, the solution is trying out food from different cultures and countries as often as possible. If you get creative, you can do this without a lot of extra kitchen time (I know the weekdays can be hard, with work and everything else going on) and too many added calories.

    The only chicken dish I will recommend to you is this:
    Moroccan Chicken with Lemon and Olives
    http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/moro...

    The preserved lemon, cinnamon, paprika, and green olives have your whole house smelling delicious, and the taste is ridiculously delicious, as if you've made something far more complex than you actually have. I make it with couscous, but you can definitely substitute in some brown rice, and eat it with the breast rather than the thighs to keep it all relatively healthy.

    Other than that? Step away from the chicken! Most girls tend to turn to chicken breast over and over again in an attempt to keep their weight down, but that's the easiest way to get bored, and fast. Turn to turkey, lamb, even leaner cuts of beef, in the name of keeping it interesting.

    Turkey burgers with tomato jam, olives, and feta:
    http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

    I've made these several times, and they're always so good. I think if you had one with a small, simple side salad, your waistline would not suffer.

    Broiled Lamb Chops with Mint Chimichurri:
    http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

    I've made this four times, and I always get raves on it. It has a little butter and oil, but once again, if you keep everything else simple, like maybe some steamed vegetables, your mouth will be happy and you won't feel any guilt!

    I'd also try grilled fish tacos with tomatillo sauce and corn tortillas; grilled peaches and lettuces in your salads for interest and a new texture; Indian vegetables curries; Japanese miso soup; heirloom tomato gazpacho with some of those grilled prawns. Just don't be afraid to experiment on Tuesday the same way you say you do over the weekend!

    1. I know that feeling! Some ideas that may help
      - grilled portobello mushrooms
      - grilled tofu
      - chilled soup
      - veggie fritatta
      - tomato tart
      - stuffed baked potato
      - veggie pizza
      - arugula and mushroom salad

      1. I find that what I've grown tired of is actually the grilled flavor to every component of the meal. When that's the case, I switch out to doing some stir-fries in the wok with all those good summer veggies to refresh my palate.

        1. up here in the Pacific Northwest, we don't even start summer until July 4, and don't get any of the tomatoes and bg summer veg until even later, so your post makes me sad. But I soldier on ...

          For filling with flavor, I would look at Mexican, Indian, and Thai for ideas, especially for using spices and herbs in different and dramatic ways. You could make a Thai beef salad, or fish salad. Indian curries, or tandoori chicken. Mexican--tostadas, veg or fish or any meat tacos. You can use more of the flavorful ingredients and less of the protein. If corn tortillas don't fit your plan for healthy,make lettuce wraps.

          1. LIke cocktailhour said, try different ethnic food. We eat homestyle Indian vegetarian about 70% of the time, and this type of food:
            1. Never depends on butter, cream, ghee, etc for flavour; so my family has never fallen into the trap of thinking that wonderfully tasty food has to have such ingredients. Also, the reliance on seasonal vegetables, dals/lentils/beans, and partial whole grains, means that it can be very healthy.
            2. It is filled with flavour, by definition, with a symphonic use of spices - homestyle cooking uses far fewer spices, oil, and techniques than the restaurant classic dishes, and tastes much better
            3. Never boring - near infinite regional and cultural variety
            4. You can take as much or as little thought as you like.

            Other ethnicities: Thai, Mediterranean, etc. have similar features......