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Help! Healthy Food that Doesn't Taste Like It

Alright, so long story short, I need to lose weight. I am not looking for a quick fix, or to do it ridiculously fast. I've tried the "eat healthy" but it's boring. I have no interest in eating plain grilled chicken and salad for the rest of my life. I like flavor, and color, and richness to my food. I like to enjoy every meal. But, losing weight needs to happen sadly. So, I need help! I am also learning how to cook for myself as I am moving into my first apartment this fall. So, I have the summer to get a set of dishes that I can make easily so that I do not fall into the trap of fast food. I have no campus meal plan so I can't fall back on that either. Basically, I am forcing myself to make changes. I've done Weight Watchers, dieted, etc, and have interest in doing so ever again. I want to eat enjoyable food, but not feel like I am missing out when my friends are eating junk food whenever they want. Please help! What do you make that is healthy, but tastes good? I love spices, any kind of meat, tofu, vegetables, fruits, grains of all sorts, and I have no allergies. I eat foreign food and local food. I am not picky! (Which is probably how I got to this weight...) Can you help?

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  1. Congrats!

    *EDIT--oh gosh, I forgot you said EASY. None of these are super hard, but some are more time consuming than others. I'll asterisk the easiest ones:

    *I love to roast a chicken for the week. Beer can chicken stays surprisingly moist and is healthy if you peel off the skin. Or, try this method: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7178...

    *Ooh! And Ottolenghi's wild rice salad:
    http://www.ottolenghi.co.uk/recipes/w...

    *I like this quinoa salad (you can add in a small amount of toasted chopped almonds or slivers of roast chicken if you want to make it more of a main), but follow the cooking directions on the quinoa package, not the weird steaming directions epicurious gives you: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

    *Crock-pot beans (see post #10) http://community.cookinglight.com/sho... Eat as a side or make your own little bean burritos.

    *Also, if you like crock pot cooking, this beef stew one is good. Make sure to trim the beef. Use whole wheat noodles. http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/rec...

    *Here's a crock pot chicken that is good:
    http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

    *I love Peter Berley's tofu with lemon and white wine. I cut way back on the butter, though, or use just a couple of teaspoons of Canola oil: http://nowthatsgoodeatin.blogspot.com...

    These recipes from Berley are good too, especially the polenta one (cut out or cut back the amount of butter, though), as long as you reduce the amount of fat a little: http://www.nextnc.com/content/view/16...

    Here's my favorite quinoa recipe. I use fat free cheese, but most people would probably prefer low fat cheese. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4733...

    *Gio's bison chipotle meatloaf:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5268...

    Oven baked Cornflake chicken instead of fried chicken: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4733...

    Gourmet's portobello bison burgers:
    http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

    Grilled lean pork or lean beef or chicken bun salad bowls:
    http://vietworldkitchen.typepad.com/b...

    Black bean tamales
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5177...

    Ottolenghi's crushed potatoes (ease up on the quantity of olive oil).
    http://www.ottolenghi.co.uk/recipes/c...

    *Tandoori chicken with the skin removed (I always skip the food color):
    http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/indian-...

    ~TDQ

    5 Replies
    1. re: The Dairy Queen

      Wow!!! Thank you so much! These look delicious!!! I am already loving the sound of the bison chipotle meatloaf, the beans, the chicken (all of them look good!!).... This definitely helps. My plan is to print them all off and keep them in a binder, so these are really appreciated!

      1. re: milkyway4679

        You're welcome, and good luck! Also, you might learn how to broil some fish, such as salmon. Super easy, quick, and healthy. You can even do it in a toaster oven if you're just cooking for one or two.

        If you can keep a bag of shrimp in your freezer, it's easy to defrost a handful and toss into some vegetables for a quick stir fry. Serve over whole wheat noodles, quinoa, or brown rice and you've got a pretty wholesome meal.

        ~TDQ

        1. re: The Dairy Queen

          cooking fish en papillote is another simple, healthy and delicious option - and sometimes a safer method than broiling for a newbie because it's less likely to overcook with all that steam and moisture trapped in there!

          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

            I love fish en papillote. Super simple and flexible. And great for entertaining, too, because most people don't know how easy it is. Plus, it's like having a little present on your plate that you get to open.

            http://www.marthastewart.com/article/...

            ~TDQ

        2. re: milkyway4679

          I love love love fresh cooked beans with tons of fresh black pepper, some salt and a spoon, that's it. You almost don't even need bread to sop it up!

      2. The one thing I can recommend above all else is to eat a lot of vegetables. I've found that the library is the best way to figure out which cookbooks have my favorite vegetable preparations. One of my faves is Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, and bear in mind that I'm not a vegetarian! Most of her recipes are healthful as long as you use portion control, and aren't on a lowfat or otherwise restricted diet for special needs, which it sounds like you aren't.

        Don't be afraid of fat, as long as it's monounsaturated (raw nuts, avocados, vegetable oils like canola, olive, etc. ) or in small amounts polyunsaturated (sesame, sunflower, etc.) A little fat goes a long way toward satisfaction and also helps you absorb nutrients.

        Come back to the Home Cooking board for healthy preparations of foods you buy regularly and enjoy. There are some seriously good cooks here, and they won't lead you astray. Goodhealthgourmet has lots of good ideas for tasty, appealing and healthful dishes. People whose recipes you like here, follow them on your profile, and you'll soon find yourself with lots of new recipes and ideas.

        Okay, so onto specifics--a tofu salad my family has been enjoying this summer, simple to make: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo... When they refer to Asian sesame oil in the ingredients list, use the toasted sesame oil, the dark variety. A little bottle with last you a long time, and it really punches up the flavor of many dishes when used to finish a dish (after cooking, so heat doesn't cook out the deliciousness.) I use both white and black sesame seeds, so that it's more eye appealing on the plate. Most Asian groceries will have them. While you're over at Epicurious, check out their healthy recipes on the left hand menu at the home page. That site is useful as heck for a new cook, very searchable. You can enter whatever ingredients you have, and it will pull up options.

        I eat a lot of cold soba noodles in the summertime. If you get the kind that have more buckwheat, they have a higher fiber content, and are chewier and nuttier. Be sure to rinse them well under cold water, using your hands to massage off the extra starch. That little extra step makes them ever so much tastier and springier. They are great with a sesame seed dressing and some sliced cucumber, fresh corn, a little seaweed, some cold poached chicken, and scallions. Simple, quick, and delicious.

        I also cook four portions of brown rice at a time, and store the extra in the fridge for quick meals. It's easy to scramble an egg, take it out of the pan, add a little more oil and cook diced vegetables on high, then throw in the brown rice, add a little water or broth or even sake to steam the rice back to life a minute or two, then, top with scallions and toasted sesame oil. Filling and easy when I'm tired and hungry.

        Grill a bunch of veggies at once--asparagus, summer squash, peppers, mushrooms, whatever you like--dress with a favorite olive oil, salt and pepper, and cool to room temperature before storing in the fridge. You can put these in pasta salad, on sandwiches, with whole grains like rice or quinoa or barley, or eat them in an omelet for breakfast with a little cheese. The high heat of the grill concentrates the flavors and subtle smokiness enhances many applications. If you don't have a grill, just roast them in the oven after the sun goes down so as not to heat the kitchen.

        I also want to mention pickles. All kinds of pickles make a great snack food when your friends are pulling out the potato chips. Okra pickles, giardineira, dill spears, pickled carrots and radishes, are all good alternatives to fried snack foods, and you can put them on burgers or sandwiches to add flavor. You can also snack on low sugar high fiber cereals. When I was a student, I ate a lot of cereal, to be honest. It's fast and filling, but unfortunately no longer as cheap as it was back then. I use an unsweetened almond milk, but the natural sugars in milk may not be a concern for you.

        Let us know how you're doing!

        4 Replies
        1. re: amyzan

          amyzan has a lot of fabulous recommendations (naturally!). I second her recommendation to search epicurious for "healthy" recipes. In addition to searching on "healthy", I always sort my results on user ratings so the highest-rated ones come up first. And, if there are a lot of comments, I try to read through as sometimes there are some good tips in the comments.

          I also second her rec for soba (buckwheat) noodles (and I like to try to get the 100% buckwheat ones if I can)! Soba noodles would be another thing that make a great bed or side-dish for stir fry.

          And, amyzan's tofu salad reminds me of David Chang's (of Momofuku), "Cherry Tomato & Tofu Salad" recipe in Alice Waters "Into the Green Kitchen," though I haven't had a chance to try it yet. Seems like it would be wonderful in mid-to-late summer when tomatoes are at their peak: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/20...

          Also great for summer, Nigella's watermelon and feta salad (just make sure to not overdo the feta): chttp://www.nigella.com/recipe/recipe_detail....
          Conversions: http://www.nigella.com/recipe/equival...
          Some additional comments on this recipe: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4169...

          Also, speaking of Nigella, Thai crumbled beef in lettuce wraps http://www.nigella.com/recipe/recipe_... Use lean ground beef or bison or even ground turkey. Use a little more fish sauce than Nigella calls for.

          ~TDQ

          1. re: amyzan

            These are all great ideas that I definitely can use. They are all really easy, and seem quite affordable for a college student haha! Thank you so much for your suggestions. I am going to borrow the Vegetarian cook book from the library, and hopefully find some yummy recipes in there!! :) Thank you so much amyzan!

            1. re: milkyway4679

              if you want another online source for terrific, healthy recipes in addition to Epicurious, check out the Eating Well website:
              http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes_menus

              1. re: milkyway4679

                The library is a fantastic idea! Vegetarian for Everyone was cookbook of the month awhile back.

                Here is the master thread from that month:

                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5343...

                ~TDQ

            2. The original comment has been removed
              1. An easy way to add flavor healthfully is to make all kinds of fresh salsas...vegetables, fruits...low in fat, can be spicy or not...a plain chicken breast or broiled fish fillet can be dressed up. Or in my husband's case, completely covered!
                Increasing your fiber (fruits, veg, grain) will help with weight management, since it will make you feel full and regulate your blood sugar levels.

                2 Replies
                1. re: BeeZee

                  Ooo I do like the idea of a fruit salsa! Do you have any favorite recipes? And do you use them on meat or something else?

                2. my problem is healthy snacking because I can do a nice tasty meal and keep it under control but I love to snack soooooo.......
                  1)went to a party once and hubby made that knorrs veg soup dip but with low fat cottage cheese (in the blender) and no one knew, everyone loved it.
                  2) hummus hummus hummus and even edamame hummus
                  3) my own pita chips, seasoned up using those low carb pita pockets that you can't use as a pocket anyway because they are too thin - I also used these like a soft taco
                  4) popcorn is a great snacker if you get the low fat one, I just got a great Lime Popcorn (awesome)
                  5) love jazzing up a coleslaw mix with nuts and fruit for a nice side salad
                  6) just a great salad with lemon juice, olive oil and a protein on top (spices really do make a big diff) - last night I tossed some shrimp in a lil honey, bbq, lime and srirachi before grilling - omg fantastic! We just had veggies and hummus on the side.

                  Have fun, good luck and don't forget portion control - when I have a craving for something like buffelo wings I give in and only eat half. Also, take the things you love and try them healthier - for example those wings, do shrimp instead or bake oysters instead of fried if you love that.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: lexpatti

                    Ooo I do love that knorrs soup dip! I will most definitely be trying it with the low fat cottage cheese :) By your own pita chips, do you mean that you make your own? How do you do that?

                    Yeah, the portion control is definitely something I need to work on! I say "one more" and then have 5 more...hahaha.

                    Thanks for the advice! I appreciate it! :)