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Easy tricks to outsmart your appetite

Easy tricks to outsmart your appetite

You know that one of the keys to losing weight is eating fewer calories. But it can be hard to know how to cut back without feeling deprived or hungry. As a registered dietitian and the associate nutrition editor of EatingWell Magazine, I know there are a bunch of tricks that can help you consume fewer calories without feeling deprived.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind
It’s hard to resist temptation when it’s staring you in the face. When office workers were given candies in clear dishes to place on their desks, they helped themselves to candy 71 percent more often than a similar group that was given the same candy in opaque dishes so that the candy wasn’t visible, according to research by Brian Wansink, Ph.D., director of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab in Ithaca, New York. “We’re all on the ‘see-food’ diet,” he says, “so don’t let yourself see what you don’t want to eat.” Do yourself a favor and keep tempting foods out of your sight. If you’re going to keep snacks at home, stash them inside a cupboard; keep healthier options like apples out on the counter.

Must-Read: “Bad” Foods You Should Be Eating

Focus on Your Food
If you eat while you’re distracted—like when you’re watching TV or even thinking about other things—you may end up eating more without even enjoying it. A new study in the journal Appetite found that people who ate lunch while listening to a recording that cued them to pay attention to the look, smell, taste and texture of their food ate fewer cookies as a snack later on. Rather than mindlessly plowing through food, take time to savor it.

Related: 10 Secrets of Intuitive Eating
Is Eating at Your Desk Making You Gain Weight-

Eat with Chopsticks
An easy way to slow down your eating (which can help you lose weight) is to put your fork down between bites—or consider using chopsticks. When eating, it takes 20 minutes for your body to register fullness. And according to a University of Rhode Island study, you can save 70 calories by eating slowly over about half an hour versus eating in under 10 minutes. If you ate slower at every meal, that would translate into losing about two pounds a month.

Must-Try: Lose 2 Pounds a Week with These Diet Meal Plans

Fill Up on Fiber
Vegetables are low in calories, but their water and fiber content make them filling. Whole grains (like brown rice, quinoa, 100% whole-grain bread) are also more satisfying than refined grains, so you might find you can feel fuller on a smaller portion. (Read these easy swaps to boost your fiber intake throughout the day.)

Size Down Your Dinnerware
A smaller portion will look meager if served on a gigantic plate (I know…I had this experience at a restaurant the other night). Invest in 7-inch plates (about the size of a salad plate) to eat your meals on: they will look more ample. Another trick you can take from new research by Brian Wansink, published in the Journal of Consumer Research, is to make sure your plates and bowls contrast color-wise with your food—e.g., oatmeal served in a red bowl rather than a white one. Researchers found that participants ate less when served food in a high-contrast plate or bowl, likely because it made their portion even more noticeable.

Must-Read: 5 Bad Eating Habits You Should Break

What healthy tips can you share to cut back on calories- Tell us what you think below.

Kerri–Ann Jennings, a registered dietitian, is the associate nutrition editor of EatingWell Magazine, where she wields her master’s degree in nutrition from Columbia University writing and editing news about nutrition, health and food trends. In her free time, Kerri–Ann likes to practice yoga, hike, bake and paint.

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Foods to prevent allergies and asthma—what works and what doesn’t

Foods to prevent allergies and asthma—what works and what doesn’t

Can a healthy diet help you breathe easier- Some research says…yes. But there are also a lot of unproven dietary strategies touted help manage allergies and asthma. What works- What doesn’t- Find out here. (Of course, if you have allergies or asthma, you should always follow the advice of your health–care provider.)

Snacking on fruit to prevent asthma- Worth a try! Eating fruit could lower your risk of asthma, according to Dutch researchers who tracked the asthma symptoms and diets of children from birth through eight years of age. They found those who ate more fruit throughout their childhood had lower rates of asthma. Researchers think the antioxidants in fruits and veggies could protect airways from damage, possibly reducing risk of asthma, which afflicts more than 8 percent of Americans. Other research has specifically found that apples, bananas and vitamin–C–rich fruits, such as citrus, may lower asthma risk.

Don’t Miss: 12 Fruits and Vegetables You Should Buy Organic

Eating honey to prevent allergies- Probably won’t help. The theory is this: Honeybees gather pollen from the very plants that cause your itchy eyes, so consuming a small daily dose of the local honey—and subsequently these pollens—may stimulate your immune system and reduce allergies, explains Miguel P. Wolbert, an allergist and immunologist at the Allergy & Asthma Care Center in Evansville, Indiana. But the pollens that cause sneezing and congestion—such as ragweed—are windborne, while the pollens bees collect are too heavy to fly in the breeze. Windborne pollens can fall onto flowers, get picked up by bees and end up in honey, says Wolbert, “but it’s likely to be a very, very small amount.” Not enough to make a difference. And, so far, no clinical evidence shows that honey alleviates allergy symptoms. Bottom line: It’s not likely that honey will help your allergies, but, Wolbert says, “I don’t tell my patients not to eat it.”

Related: 5 Immunity–Boosting Foods & Nutrients to Keep You Healthy

Easing up on salt to reduce asthma symptoms- Can’t hurt. Since the 1930s, research has linked a high–salt diet with worsened asthma symptoms in children. More recently, promising research indicates that following a low–sodium diet may lessen asthmatic symptoms in people with exercise–induced asthma. A 2010 review article on the topic, published in the journal The Physician and Sports Medicine, concluded that, since a low–sodium diet has other health benefits (namely those related to heart health), it may be considered a therapeutic option that might complement, but not replace, medication to manage asthma. One easy way to cut back: avoid processed/packaged foods, which tend to deliver big hits of sodium.

Related: Delicious Low–Sodium Recipes
5 Ways to Cut Sodium

Raw milk to relieve asthma and allergies- Not a good idea. It’s still too early to tell if raw milk lives up to its purported benefits in the realm of relieving allergy and asthma symptoms, but there are real risks to consuming raw–milk products. (Learn more about healthy milk choices here.) According to the Centers for Disease Control, raw–milk–related pathogen outbreaks accounted for more than 1,000 illnesses, more than 100 hospitalizations and two deaths between 1998 and 2005.? Catherine W. Donnelly, Ph.D., a food microbiologist at the University of Vermont, believes the dangers cancel out any potential nutritional benefits. “Of particular concern is Listeria [a bacterium that results in a foodborne illness, listeriosis], which has a 30 percent mortality rate,” Donnelly warns. “If raw milk is your choice, it’s buyer beware.”

Related: Foods to Fight Pain Naturally

What natural solutions have you tried to prevent asthma or allergies- Tell us what you think below.

Kerri–Ann Jennings, a registered dietitian, is the associate nutrition editor of EatingWell Magazine, where she wields her master’s degree in nutrition from Columbia University writing and editing news about nutrition, health and food trends. In her free time, Kerri–Ann likes to practice yoga, hike, bake and paint.

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The only picnic dessert you’ll ever need: No-Bake Cherry Cheesecake

The only picnic dessert you’ll ever need: No-Bake Cherry Cheesecake

This Memorial Day I’m hosting a picnic and each of my friends is going to bring a dish. I am in charge of dessert. Lucky for me it is cherry time—the few wonderful weeks in between spring and summer when fresh cherries are available at my farmers’ market. (Sweet and tart cherries are also available year-round canned or frozen.)

Recipes to Try: Delicious Cherry Recipes including Dark Cherry Bundt Cake

I’ve already chosen my dessert—No-Bake Cherry Cheesecake Bars from our article about cherry season in the May/June issue of EatingWell Magazine. This recipe is part bar, part cherry pie and part cheesecake fused into a super-easy, no-bake dessert that will become your go-to for warm-weather picnicking. The best part- You don’t need the oven! Here’s the recipe:

More Recipes to Try: Greek Yogurt Cheesecake & More Healthy Cheesecake Recipes
Quick & Easy Fresh Fruit Desserts Ready in 15 Minutes or Less

No-Bake Cherry Cheesecake
Makes: 12 servings
Active time: 40 minutes | Total: 3 hours 40 minutes (including 3 hours chilling time)
To make ahead: Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day.

4 cups halved pitted sour or sweet cherries, fresh or frozen (thawed, drained; see Tips)
3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
1/4 cup plus 4 teaspoons water, divided
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Half a 14-ounce box graham crackers, preferably whole-wheat
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (see Tips)
1/3 cup canola oil
2 8-ounce packages reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufch??tel), softened
2 cups nonfat plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
6 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Combine cherries, 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Combine cornstarch with 4 teaspoons water, then stir into the cherry mixture; return to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid thickens and looks syrupy, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.

2. Process graham crackers in a food processor until finely ground. Add walnuts and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl; stir in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Drizzle with oil and stir to combine. Press into the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

3. Beat cream cheese, yogurt, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary. Spread over the crust. Spoon the cherry mixture over the top. Cover and refrigerate until cold, about 3 hours.

Per serving: 348 calories; 17 g fat (4 g sat, 7 g mono); 20 mg cholesterol; 42 g carbohydrate; 22 g added sugars; 9 g protein; 2 g fiber; 273 mg sodium; 228 mg potassium. Nutrition bonus: Vitamin A (19% daily value).

To pit fresh cherries, use a tool made for the job—a hand-held cherry pitter; it also works for olives! Or pry out the pit with the tip of a knife or vegetable peeler.

To toast chopped, small or sliced nuts, cook in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 4 minutes.

Don’t Miss: Easy, No-Bake Dessert Recipes for Cherry Ice Cream Pie with Chocolate Cookie Crust & More

What is your favorite picnic dessert- Tell us what you think below.

Emily McKenna tests and develops recipes in the EatingWell Test Kitchen. Emily recently moved to Vermont from New York City, where she worked at Food & Wine, and Real Simple. She is a recent convert to the glories of kale and has a weakness for doughnuts, strawberry licorice and anything her Italian-American grandmother makes, especially pizza.

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10-minute “soft-serve” you can make in your food processor

10-minute "soft-serve" you can make in your food processor

Ever heard of yonanas- It’s a one-ingredient frozen dessert made with ripe bananas that has the texture of soft serve ice cream without any added fat or sugar. Sounds pretty good to me, except that I’d have to purchase a $50 machine to make it and I’ve made a commitment not to buy single use appliances. But I am curious to try this wonder dessert.

With a little searching it appears as though you don’t actually need the machine to replicate this fruity soft-serve-like goodness. (You actually don’t need an ice cream maker to make creamy frozen yogurt either—your food processor does an excellent job of finely blending berries with yogurt. What about your blender- Although blenders can get a finer texture, blending thick frozen berries with yogurt is difficult. Air pockets form over the blade and you’re left doing more stirring than you would using a food processor.)

Don’t Miss: Kitchen Tools Every Cook Should Have

The secret to making creamy “soft-serve” without a special machine lies in the bananas – they’re inherently soft and a little gooey when they’re ripe. To make your one ingredient “soft-serve,” slice a few very ripe bananas up, freeze them for 24 hours and process them for a few minutes in a food processor until they’re nice and creamy. Note, you may have to scrape the sides down during the processing until it reaches the desired consistency.

Don’t Miss: The Best Way to Freeze 16 Fruits and Vegetables

Want something a little more refined- I love EatingWell’s recipe for frozen yogurt at home that has just 4 ingredients: fruit, sugar, plain yogurt, lemon juice. Here’s a recipe for easy frozen yogurt at home and two tips that make this recipe work like a charm:

Instant Frozen Yogurt
Makes: 4 servings, 3/4 cup each
Active time: 10 minutes | Total: 10 minutes

We like to use chopped frozen peaches, but you can use frozen berries or whatever frozen fruit you have on hand in this ultra-quick frozen yogurt that is made without an ice cream maker.

More Recipes to Try: Peach Frozen Yogurt and More Easy Frozen Yogurt Recipes

Why It Works Tip 1: Use superfine sugar
Since you won’t have the opportunity to cook or melt sugar it’s best to use superfine sugar, which dissolves instantly. This way you won’t end up chomping down on grainy sugar granules that haven’t dissolved. Superfine sugar is available in the baking section of most supermarkets, but if you can’t find it simply process regular sugar in your food processor or a clean coffee grinder for a minute or two until ground very fine.

Why It Works Tip 2: Add the yogurt with the machine still running
Part of the beauty of frozen yogurt is its light airy texture. Although it’s easy to throw all the ingredients into the food processor at once, it’s better to do it in stages. Start by blending your frozen fruit until it’s uniformly finely chopped. Then add the yogurt with the machine running (you’ll add it through the feeding tube in the top) to better incorporate the yogurt with the whipping action delivering more air into your dessert.

More Healthy Dessert Recipes to Try: Mocha Frozen Ice Pops and More 100 Calorie Desserts
Frozen Raspberry Pie and More Frozen Desserts

What’s your favorite frozen dessert- Tell us what you think below.

EatingWell Associate Food Editor Hilary Meyer spends much of her time in the EatingWell Test Kitchen, testing and developing healthy recipes. She is a graduate of New England Culinary Institute.

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What is umami- The basic taste you’ve never heard of

What is umami- The basic taste you’ve never heard of

A few months ago, I took on an ambitious cooking project that made my wife scratch her head. It left our kitchen a mess and the entire house smelling like smoke; it took up an entire Saturday and, worst of all, it didn’t even produce a viable meal! My poor spouse thought I was crazy: what had I gained from all that effort- But then she tasted the result.

I had created a thick, brown, butter-like paste called “beef extract”—a sort of bone-marrow jelly—by boiling beef stock into oblivion. It tasted amazing. It was earthy and deep—not salty, exactly, but with a hint of filet mignon, portobello mushrooms and homemade broth. It had a roundness and depth to it that filled your entire mouth the way the sound of a foghorn fills your chest. A teaspoon of it imparted an unspeakable savoriness to tomato sauces, added depth to stir-fries and transformed toast into a kind of crispy, hot drug. We couldn’t get enough.

What we were tasting was umami—the fifth basic taste. Like sweet, sour, salty and bitter—those tastes we learned about back in kindergarten—umami is detected by taste buds right on the tongue. It comes from glutamates, a kind of molecule found most often in fatty foods like meats and cheeses but present in many others as well. Ever wonder why some veggie burgers don’t taste quite as satisfying as ground beef- Chances are you’re missing the full-throated taste of umami.

Don’t Miss: How to Retrain Your Taste Buds

I learned more about umami when renowned chef David Bonom and his wife Marge Perry wrote a feature for EatingWell on ways to make vegetarian meals that satisfy the way meaty meals do (“Where’s the Beef-” May/June 2012). It turns out that, while umami is prevalent in foods you should eat in moderation, like red meat, you can find it in healthy plant-based ones too. And if you blend flavors the right way, you can really draw the taste of umami out—creating a healthy meatless meal that satisfies like a steak dinner.

Don’t Miss: 5 Secrets for Cooking Vegetarian Food That Satisfies

The first step, of course, is to learn which ingredients have the most umami. Perry and Bonom identify a number of them: “The process of fermentation enhances umami,” Perry says, “which explains why soy sauce and aged cheeses like Parmesan are so ‘savory.’” Vegetables high in umami include asparagus, tomatoes, seaweed (such as dulse or arame), peas, corn and onions. Soyfoods like tofu and edamame are on that list too.

Don’t Miss: 12 Recipes with Umami Foods
Classic Meaty Meals Made Vegetarian

From here you seek out delicious combinations of these foods—by layering them together in a dish, you can draw out a big umami taste. That’s why tomatoes and Parmesan go so well together, ditto seaweed and tofu. The more umami ingredients you layer together in a dish, the stronger the taste is—and the more satisfying it is to eat.

Baked Parmesan Tomatoes
Active time: 5 minutes | Total time: 20 minutes

A sprinkle of Parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil transform tomatoes into the perfect side dish. Or try sandwiching them between slices of your favorite whole-wheat country bread.

Related: Is Calcium the Sixth Taste-

How do you make healthy foods taste great- Tell us what you think below.

Matthew Thompson is the associate food editor for EatingWell Magazine.

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4 moldy foods you can eat (plus which foods to toss)

4 moldy foods you can eat (plus which foods to toss)

When a food in my kitchen appears to have passed its prime, my husband and I often disagree about whether to keep or toss it.

He’s traveled the world and has eaten many unrecognizable foods, so how harmful is a little mold- “Just cut it off,” he’ll say. I, on the other hand, have worked in hospital foodservice and before becoming an R.D. took courses in food safety and food microbiology. Moldy- Chuck it!

Related: Do Food Expiration Dates Really Mean Anything-
4 Foods with a Surprisingly Short Nutritional “Shelf Life”

Turns out we’re both right (or wrong, depending on how you look at things). According to the USDA, some foods can be used even when they’re moldy, while others need to be discarded.

Don’t Miss: 10 Rules for a Healthy, Safe Kitchen

Here are 4 moldy foods you can eat (but if it’s completely covered with mold, throw it away):

1. Hard salami and dry-cured country hams. Apparently it’s normal for these products to have a surface mold. The USDA’s advice is to just scrub the mold off the surface and then use.

2. Hard cheese made without mold. For cheeses where mold isn’t part of the processing, mold generally can’t get deep into the product. For hard cheeses, such as Asiago, Pecorino, Parmesan and Cheddar, lop off at least 1 inch around and below the mold spot (to avoid cross-contamination, be careful not to touch the mold with the knife).

3. Hard cheese made with mold. If these cheeses, such as Gorgonzola and Stilton, have a surface mold on them, you can use them if you cut off at least 1 inch around and below the mold spot.

4. Firm fruits and vegetables. The key word here is firm (think: cabbage, bell peppers, carrots, etc.). Like the hard cheeses made without mold, dense fruits and vegetables are not easily penetrated by mold. The same rule of thumb applies to firm produce: cut off at least an inch around and below the mold spot (again, not touching the mold with your knife) before using.

Related: 5 Vegetables You Shouldn’t Keep in Your Fridge

And here are foods you should toss if they’re moldy:

1. Yogurt and sour cream. These foods have a high moisture content and so may be contaminated with mold—which have difficult-to-see, thin, threadlike branches and roots—below the surface.

2. Some cheeses. Cheeses that are made with mold—and aren’t hard—such as Brie, Camembert and some blue cheeses, should be discarded. Soft cheeses, such as cottage and cream cheese, Neufchatel, chevre, etc., should also be thrown away. Also ditch all types of crumbled, shredded or sliced cheeses.

3. Jams and jellies. According to the USDA, the mold in jams and jellies could produce a mycotoxin (a poisonous substance that can make you sick) and so should be discarded.

Related: 5 Common Food-Borne Bacteria to Avoid

4. Soft fruits and vegetables. Like yogurt and sour cream, soft fruits and vegetables (cucumbers, tomatoes, peaches, berries, etc.) may have mold growing below the surface. Also, because mold spreads quickly in fruits and vegetables, check nearby foods in your produce drawer.

5. Bread and baked goods. These are porous foods, so mold may also be growing below the surface.

6. Peanut butter, legumes and nuts. Because these are processed without preservatives, they’re at high risk for mold, according to the USDA.

7. Luncheon meats, bacon or hot dogs. If these items, which are moisture-rich, like yogurt, sour cream and produce, have mold on them, they should be discarded as the mold may also be below the surface.

8. Cooked leftovers. The USDA advises that you discard cooked leftover meat and poultry, cooked casseroles and cooked grain and pasta that are moldy. They all have high moisture content and, thus, may be contaminated with mold below the surface.

Don’t Miss: 5 Bad Eating Habits and How to Break Them

Do you use or toss moldy food items- Tell us what you think below.

Brierley’s interest in nutrition and food come together in her position as nutrition editor at EatingWell. Brierley holds a master’s degree in Nutrition Communication from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. A Registered Dietitian, she completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Vermont.

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Healthy hot dog taste-test winners

Healthy hot dog taste-test winners

I love the smoky bite of a hot dog mounded with sweet and tangy toppings and the delicate, salty balance of meat with the bun. But I’m not a huge fan of the buckets of sodium and oozing fat many hot dogs contain. Still, while hot dogs are not exactly a nutritionist’s favorite food, they can shine as the calorie bargain of the barbecue: you’re better off with a 100- to 150-calorie hot dog on a bun than with a 230-calorie hamburger or a 285-calorie bratwurst.

Don’t Miss: What to Eat & What to Skip at a Cookout

That’s one of the reasons I was so excited to participate in EatingWell’s hot dog taste-test. We identified a number of brands with less than 370 mg of sodium and no more than 3 grams of saturated fat per dog—our baseline standard for a healthier dog. These we separated into three categories: Poultry Dogs, Beef and/or Pork Dogs and Vegetarian Hot Dogs.

From there, we went on taste—determining which kinds of dogs had the most satisfying, delicious flavor. The results were sometimes surprising. While conventional wisdom would probably dictate that the dog with the most fat and salt would taste the best, that definitely was not the case.

Don’t Miss: Healthy Hot Dog Recipes

Below are the EatingWell Test Kitchen’s favorite healthier hot dogs:

Poultry Dogs
Applegate Uncured Turkey Dogs [40 cals; 3.5 g fat (1 g sat fat); 260 mg sodium]
Shelton Uncured Chicken Franks [70 cals; 6 g fat (1.5 g sat fat); 360 mg sodium]
Jenny-O Turkey Franks [70 cals; 5 g fat (1.5 g sat fat); 370 mg sodium]
D’Artagnan Uncured Duck Hot Dogs [90 cals; 6 g fat (2 g sat fat); 350 mg sodium]

Beef & Beef/Pork Blends
Applegate The Great Organic Uncured Hot Dog [110 cals; 8 g fat (3 g sat fat); 330 mg sodium]
Applegate Uncured Beef Hot Dogs [70 cals; 6 g fat (2 g sat fat); 330 mg sodium]
Boar’s Head Lite Skinless Beef Frankfurters [90 cals; 6 g fat (2.5 g sat fat); 270 mg sodium]

Vegetarian Hot Dogs
Lightlife Smart Dogs [45 cals; 0 g fat; 310 mg sodium]
Lightlife Tofu Pups [60 cals; 2.5 fat (0.5 g sat fat); 300 mg sodium]

Related: Summer Sides Dish Recipes for Lighter Deviled Eggs, 7-Layer Salad & More
Low-Calorie Potato Salads That Won’t Pack on the Pounds

Didn’t see a dog you like- Here’s what to look for on packages to choose a healthier hot dog:

• Steer clear of big fat dogs. Beware of jumbo, stadium and bun-length dogs, which can be almost double the size of a regular dog and have more of everything—including calories, fat and sodium.
• Beware of salty dogs. Between salty flavorings, preservatives and curing agents, some dogs pack 500 mg sodium or more apiece—a quarter to a third of your daily limit, and that’s before you add a bun and toppings. (Often) worst offenders: “light” and “fat-free” dogs” (which usually replace fat with more salt and flavoring). Dogs don’t have to be salt bombs to taste great. Look for brands with 370 mg sodium or less.
• Check out the saturated fat. Some dogs pack more saturated fat than eight slices of bacon; read labels before buying. For a heart-healthier choice, stick to 3 grams of sat. fat or less. Poultry dogs tend to be leaner, veggie dogs leanest of all.
• Choose hot dogs labeled “Uncured” or “No added nitrates.” Sodium nitrite or nitrate (additives found in most hot dogs to help extend shelf life) are linked by some (but not all) experts to increased cancer risk.
• Go for organic hot dogs. These dogs are made from organically raised animals, not treated with antibiotics or hormones. Plus they skip the nitrites and nitrates.
• For all-out nutrition, nothing tops a veggie dog.

Don’t Miss: 13 Best Grilling Tips

What’s your favorite hot dog- Tell us what you think below.

Matthew Thompson is the associate food editor for EatingWell Magazine.

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3 tricks for healthier macaroni salad

3 tricks for healthier macaroni salad

Macaroni salad is one of those dishes that you just have to have at a Memorial Day gathering. The ingredients are cheap, it’s easy to make (and make a lot of) and has a wonderfully creamy texture and mild flavor that everyone loves.

But if you think your typical macaroni salad is harmless, think again. Right when you’re about to squeeze back into that bikini, good old macaroni salad will make that task a little more difficult. A typical 1-cup serving packs 370 calories and 22 grams of fat. Yikes.

Don’t Miss: Pasta Salad vs. Potato Salad. Which Is Healthier-

Before you throw that salad into the swimming pool, know that you can enjoy that same 1-cup serving with nearly half the calories and more than half the fat. Here’s how to make your macaroni salad healthier:

Tip 1) Use Whole-Wheat Pasta
Although using whole-wheat pasta doesn’t make much of a difference calorically, it does add fiber. Fiber doesn’t add calories, but helps you feel full so you’ll be less likely to go back for a second serving. And skipping that second serving will help you stay slim. A traditional macaroni salad has only 1 gram of fiber, while our version has 3 grams of fiber.

Tip 2) Bulk Up on Veggies
Typical macaroni salads are pretty spare when it comes to the vegetables. It might have a smattering of celery—maybe some chopped onion. And that’s about it. So without breaking too far with tradition, our version adds more vegetables to the mix. Beyond the typical celery and onion, we’ve also added spinach, carrot and edamame. All three are mild so they don’t take away from the traditional flavor, but they add nutrients and volume without adding a ton of calories.

Tip 3) Think Beyond Mayonnaise
Arguably the best part of a macaroni salad is the creaminess that typically comes from mayonnaise. Our version has plenty of mayo, but we opt for low-fat mayo instead of full-fat and mix it up with reduced-fat sour cream. This helps keep calories and fat in check—our version has only 7 grams of fat compared to 22 grams in a traditional version.

Don’t Miss: How to Make Any Recipe Healthier

Here is our made-over recipe for Macaroni Salad:

Macaroni Salad
Old-fashioned macaroni salad sometimes contains jarred pimientos, diced ham or pickle relish, but this version is simple and deliciously plain with fresh chopped celery, carrot and onion. A combination of low-fat mayo and sour cream lightens up the dressing, and whole-wheat elbow noodles, spinach and edamame add extra nutrients.

More EatingWell Recipes to Try: Garden Pasta Salad and More Low-Calorie Pasta Salad Recipes
EatingWell Deviled Eggs and More Memorial Day Favorites
Low-Calorie Potato Salad That Won’t Pack on the Pounds

What’s your favorite Memorial Day dish- Tell us what you think below.

EatingWell Associate Food Editor Hilary Meyer spends much of her time in the EatingWell Test Kitchen, testing and developing healthy recipes. She is a graduate of New England Culinary Institute.

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Best and worst choices at a picnic

Best and worst choices at a picnic

This weekend marks the unofficial start to summer and that means it’s time for picnics (or, depending on where you live, you might call your outdoor gathering a barbecue or a cookout). I love the traditional foods of summer: burgers and dogs, creamy salads, yummy desserts.

Must-Try: EatingWell’s Top 50 Healthy Summer Recipes

Unfortunately, these foods tend not to be the stuff that’s going to win any nutrition awards. But you can partake at a picnic and still walk away with your shorts buttoned. It just means making the right choices—and no, you don’t have to limit yourself to corn on the cob and watermelon.

Don’t Miss: 7 Tricks for Staying Slim All Summer

Just skip (most of) the worst choices; the best ones are often just as satisfying. Here’s your guide:

1. Main Dish to Skip: A cheeseburger. A quarter-pound beef burger with a slice of cheese will set you back 510 calories (26 grams of fat). Skipping the cheese will save you about 100 calories. But if you love a good burger, go for it. It’s an excellent source of iron.
Main Dish to Choose: A hot dog is lower in calories than you might think. Enjoy one on a roll with your favorite toppings (with lower-cal toppings like mustard, relish or just a little ketchup) and you’ll come out around 300 calories, 17 g fat.

Don’t Miss: Healthy Hot Dog Taste-Test Winners

2. Side Dish to Skip: Potato salad. There’s nothing inherently bad about potatoes—they’re actually a great source of vitamin C and fiber—but they contain more calories than other veggies. Plus, most potato salads are smothered in way too much full-fat mayo and will cost you about 360 calories and 20 or so grams of fat per cup.

Healthier Recipes to Try: Low-Calorie Potato Salads That Won’t Pack on Pounds

Side Dish to Choose: Coleslaw can satisfy a craving for something creamy for far fewer calories (83, with 3 grams of fat per cup). Low-cal cabbage is also a rich source of isothiocyanates, compounds that amp up the body’s natural detoxifying enzymes.

Related: Pasta Salad vs. Potato Salad. Which Is Healthier-

3. Appetizer to Skip: Potato chips with French onion dip. A large handful of chips delivers about 150 calories and 10 grams of fat. Add to that 60 calories and 4.5 grams of fat from 2 tablespoons of dip. Tortilla chips and guacamole deliver about the same calories (about 140 calories, 7 grams of fat, plus 50 calories and 4.5 grams of fat in the guac). The problem with these snacks isn’t so much how many calories one serving delivers, but rather how darn hard it is to stop there.
Appetizer to Choose: Veggies with hummus. You can have a full cup of sugar snap peas for 60 calories (0 grams of fat). Add 2 tablespoons of hummus (50 calories, 3 grams of fat) and you have a nice fiber-rich (read: ??ber-filling) snack for just a little more than 100 calories.

4. Drink to Skip: Margarita (or most other cocktails). Between the alcohol and mixers, a small 3.5-ounce drink packs about 160 calories (0 grams of fat). If you’re staying away from alcohol, you might want to stay away from soda, too: a 12-ounce can delivers about 150 calories-all from added sugars.
Drink to Choose: Light beer. A 12-ounce bottle generally has a little less than 100 calories. Or go for the best choice of all: zero-calorie flavored seltzer or water.

5. Dessert to Skip: Strawberry shortcake. Just because it contains fruit doesn’t mean it’s the healthiest or lowest-calorie choice. Between the cake and the loads of whipped cream that typically tops this summer favorite, you get a lot more calories than you may be bargaining for: about 425 (and around 20-25 grams of fat).
Dessert to Choose: A frozen fruit bar (100 calories, 0 grams of fat). Or even a scoop of vanilla ice cream: 140 calories, about 5 grams of fat.

What are your favorite picnic foods- Tell us what you think below.

Nicci Micco is Content Director, Custom Publishing & Licensing for EatingWell and co-author of EatingWell 500-Calorie Dinners . She has a master’s degree in nutrition and food sciences, with a focus in weight management.

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5 cookout food hazards to avoid

5 cookout food hazards to avoid

For some reason, food eaten outdoors under the sun tastes better. There is nothing like a burger or hot dog cooked on a grill with a side of macaroni salad, coleslaw or watermelon to celebrate summer.

Don’t Miss: Best & Worst Foods to Eat at a Barbecue

Unfortunately, the longer cooked and raw foods sit outside in the sun (such as at a Memorial Day picnic or any warm-weather cookout) the higher the chance for food-borne bacteria to multiply. To keep you and your family safe this summer, we have compiled a list of the 5 most common picnic hazards to avoid—along with our easy tips for safely preparing, cooking and storing food for picnics.

Related: 10 Kitchen Rules Every Cook Should Follow

Hazard #1: Keeping All the Food and Drinks in One Cooler
You should always have one cooler for food and one for drinks. This way, guests can take as many drinks as they want without repeatedly exposing any raw or prepared food to the warm temperature outside. Within the cooler, it’s smart to store everything in its own separate, resealable container. (Keep raw and cooked meat in separate containers and avoid reusing a container that contained raw meat. If burgers are on the menu, store the raw beef patties in a tightly sealed plastic or glass container. Bring along another clean plastic or glass container to hold the burgers once they are cooked.)

To pack your cooler, start with a layer of ice or cooler packs. Next store any raw or marinating meat in a tightly sealed container. Layer from there with any dressed salads, slaws or condiments.

Hazard #2: You Keep Your Food at the Wrong Temperature
When you bring a dish to a picnic or potluck, make sure you keep it at the right temperature until you are ready to eat. Remember this rule: keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. Transport cool dishes (such as salads, slaws and uncooked burgers) in a cooler and keep them there until you are ready to eat. If you leave perishable foods out of the refrigerator or freezer for more than 2 hours (1 hour in temperatures hotter than 90?F) they may enter the Danger Zone—the unsafe temperatures between 40? and 140?F in which bacteria multiply rapidly. Heat foods that are served warm before the meal and transport them to the picnic in an insulated container. Keep grilled meat warm by moving it to the cool side of the grill. It is fine to serve foods at room temperature, but it is not safe to keep foods that are meant to be served cold (or hot) at room temperature for longer than 4 hours.

Related: 5 Foods You Don’t Need to Keep Refrigerated

Hazard #3: You Don’t Wash Your Fruits and Vegetables Before Cutting or Serving
You should rinse any fruits before you eat them, including fruit you will cut, such as a watermelon. Rinse fruit under cold water then dry with a clean towel. Store whole and cut fruits and fruit salad in a resealable container or bag in a cooler. Follow the same steps for vegetables.

Hazard #4: The Grill Cook Guesses When the Meat Is Done
To be safe and prevent food-borne illness, cook meat to temperatures recommended by the USDA. Use a digital instant-read thermometer to take the proper temperature. Temperatures are as follows: beef, veal and lamb (steaks and roasts), fish and pork 145?F; ground beef, 160?F; poultry, 165?F. You want to take ground beef to 160?F.

Don’t Miss: Gas or Charcoal- Check Out Our 13 Best Grilling Tips

Hazard #5: Not Cleaning Your Hands
You can pick up a lot of bacteria out in the world, so it’s important to always wash your hands with soap and warm water before you eat or prepare food. We recommend washing your hands before and after handling raw meat. Make sure to bring along hand sanitizer in case you find yourself at a picnic without any running water. You should also have a towel just for drying your hands as well as a towel for cleaning up food messes.

Recipes to Try: Healthy Recipes for Your Favorite Summer BBQ Picnic Foods

How do you keep food safe and fresh when eating outside- Tell us what you think below.

Emily McKenna tests and develops recipes in the EatingWell Test Kitchen. Emily recently moved to Vermont from New York City, where she worked at Food & Wine, and Real Simple. She is a recent convert to the glories of kale and has a weakness for doughnuts, strawberry licorice and anything her Italian-American grandmother makes, especially pizza.

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