Fattoush Salad with Grilled Chicken

I’m a sucker for a pretty salad — like this Fattoush Salad with Grilled Chicken with a lemony, herb-flecked vinaigrette. Have you heard of fattoush before? If not, you’re in for a delicious treat!

The traditional fattoush salad, which originated in the Middle East, is a flavorful combination of fried or toasted pita bread mixed with fresh seasonal herbs and vegetables. Therein lies its versatility, as you can easily add your own spin of creativity with your favorite herbs, vegetables, bread and other healthy toppings.

Grilled chicken adds a boost of lean protein to my version, and for those of you like myself who can’t eat gluten, I’ve swapped the pita for gluten-free pizza crust. Mix in some crisp bell peppers and cucumbers tossed with arugula and fresh Italian parsley, and top it all off with creamy feta cheese and lemon-oregano vinaigrette for a delicious and nourishing one-bowl meal.

 

Fattoush Salad with Grilled Chicken

Serves: 4

 

Ingredients:

Lemon-Oregano Dressing

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons white or golden balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about half a lemon)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

 

Fattoush Salad

4 cups baby arugula

1/2 yellow bell pepper, chopped

1/2 red bell pepper, chopped

1 cucumber, peeled and chopped

1/2 cup loosely packed chopped Italian parsley

1 1/2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes sliced in half

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

2 grilled chicken breasts*, sliced

One 8- or 9-inch pizza crust (e.g., Udi’s frozen gluten free pizza crust, defrosted)

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

 

Directions:

Make the dressing: Combine olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, oregano, salt and pepper in a small jar. Shake well with the lid on, and set aside.

Make the salad: Place the arugula in a large salad bowl. Chop the bell peppers, cucumber and parsley, and slice the tomatoes. Add them all to the salad bowl and toss well with the arugula.

Heat a medium-size skillet over medium-high heat. Rub 1 teaspoon olive oil over pizza crust, distributing it on both sides. Place crust in skillet and heat for about 2 to 3 minutes on each side, being careful not to burn. Remove from skillet, and cut into approximately 1 1/2-inch pieces.

Assemble the salad: Place sliced chicken and chopped pita on top of salad. Add feta cheese and pour dressing over the top. Toss well before serving.

 

Note: Grill the chicken breasts on a stovetop, electric or outdoor grill per directions, or use about 3 cups precooked chicken breast meat.

Per Serving: Calories 521; Fat 33 g (Saturated 9 g); Cholesterol 65 mg; Sodium 715 mg; Carbohydrate 27 g; Fiber 4 g; Sugars 8 g; Protein 28 g

EA Stewart, MBA, RD is a registered dietitian nutritionist specializing in wellness and GI nutrition. In addition, EA is the creator of The Spicy RD, which features delicious gluten-free recipes made from healthy, seasonal ingredients.

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Eddie Jackson’s Easy Summer Party Plan

Manning the grill at a summer party is a tough job: Flipping a bunch of burgers, shuffling space for veggies and (of course) running back to the kitchen because you forgot cheese can eat into your time with guests. To avoid this scenario, we suggest you take a page from Eddie Jackson’s grilling “playbook.” As a Food Network Star winner (not to mention former NFL player, food truck owner and personal trainer), Eddie aims to create recipes that are healthy and delicious — but he knows that ease is a key ingredient, too.

And Eddie’s grilling menu really is super-savvy. He chose a crowd-pleasing flank steak that can feed the whole party, roasted potatoes that don’t require much attention while they cook and a simple salad to round out the meal. Watch the entire thing come together in the video above, and you’ll instantly feel prepared to entertain friends all season long.

Of course, Eddie’s armed with “playbooks” for many other occasions, too — check out his healthy habits plan and game-day party menu for even more inspiration.

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How Local Can You Get? Bread  

Despite their unavoidable convenience factor, commercially baked breads often fall short when it comes to flavor and nutrition. Now that I’ve been sourcing local baked goods, I’ve all but given up on the grocery store bread aisle. Here are some tips to bring more local breads into your kitchen; you’ll support local businesses and get more nutritious options at the same time.

Homemade
Making your own bread isn’t really as difficult as it is time consuming. Budgeting time for the dough to rise (and then rise a second time) does take some getting used to, but the payoff is having complete control over the ingredients. A homemade recipe gives you the ability to lower the sodium and sugar content, while increasing the whole grains. From whole wheat to rye, sourdough to gluten-free breads — bakers’ catalogs offer a wide variety of ingredients and equipment to help bring out your inner baker. Instead of relying on only traditional yeast-leavened breads, add recipes for quick breads and pizza dough to your repertoire as well.

 

Recipes to Try:

50 Quick Breads

Parker House Rolls

Tyler Florence’s Pizza Dough

Gluten-Free Irish Soda Bread

 

Locally Sourced

If you’re looking to purchase locally sourced bread, find a local bakery and become a regular. Talk to the baker to learn about his or her style and philosophy. Visit a local farmers market and see the one-of-a-kind creations the bakers in your town are making. Most local bakeries will feature a wide variety of whole grains and styles of bread, so you can experiment and see what you like. Buy a loaf or two for the week and ask them to slice loaves for you if possible to ensure even slices for easier storage (more on that below). On a recent trip to the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, N.Y., I found it truly enlightening to watch bakers mill grains into flours, then bake them into breads right on the premises. You don’t get much more local than that.

Storage and Preservation
Fresh bread certainly doesn’t have the same seemingly endless shelf life as what you’ll find in the bread aisle, but there are ways to get more mileage out of those loaves. Freshly made bread is obviously at its best the day it is made, but many varieties will keep well on the countertop for a day or two — even three or four if you toast before eating. For extended use, store sliced bread in the freezer in a tightly sealed bag. This is preferable to the refrigerator, where the extra moisture promotes mold growth. When you’re ready to use frozen bread, place it right in the toaster, or let it stand on the countertop for about 15 minutes until it reaches room temperature. Previously frozen bread is best prepared in a skillet or sandwich press.

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.

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Farmers’ Market Finds: Scapes and Rabes, Beyond Broccoli and Garlic

If you haunt your farmers market looking for signs of spring, you’re probably familiar with garlic scapes and broccoli rabe…they’re some of the first greens you’ll find. But scapes and rabe come in more varieties than garlic and broccoli. Here’s the skinny on what they are and what other varieties to look for.

 

What Are Scapes?

These shoots are one of the first edible greens to crop up in spring. Scapes are simply flower stalks that grow out of the bulbs of garlic, onions and leeks. At the top of each is a bulb that will flower if left unplucked. For eating, though, scapes are picked when the green stalk is sturdy and the bulb is still a bulb. Scapes taste like the alliums they grow from, and you can use them in places you would use chopped onion.

 

How to Use Scapes

To cook scapes, remove the bulbs and use the stalks. Chop them finely and saute to soften. Add them to omelets or quiche, blitz them into a pesto or preserve them by pickling.

What Is Rabe?

Like scapes, rabe (also referred to as raab or rapini) is the outgrowth of more recognizable plants. Most greens, left to grow wild, will sprout and flower, turning into rabe. At the end of a harvest season, if plants like kale, broccoli, mustard and collard greens are left in the field, they’ll go to seed and sprout, even forming yellow flowers. That entire plant (including the leaves and flowers) is edible.

 

How to Cook Rabe

One of the easiest and best ways to cook any kind of rabe is to blanch it and then saute it in olive oil and garlic.

 

Kerri-Ann Jenning is a registered dietitian who writes on food and health trends. Find more of her work at kerriannjennings.com or follow her on Twitter @kerriannrd or Facebook.

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Nutrition News: Late Family Dinners, Healthy Lifestyle and Cancer, Divorced Men’s Diets

Late family dinners

Parents who are perpetually running behind schedule with the family dinner probably have a lot on their plates, but one thing they can worry less about is dooming their kids to obesity just because the evening meal is served late. While previous research has indicated that meal timing could boost the risk of being overweight or obese for children, a new U.K. study examining data from more than 1,600 kids, ages 4 to 18, found that the risk of being overweight or obese was no higher among kids who ate between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. than it was among those served supper earlier in the day. Study author Gerda Pot, a visiting lecturer at King’s College London, told HealthDay News that she and her colleagues had “expected to find an association between eating later and being more likely to be overweight” and so found the study results “surprising.”

Healthy life, long life

How important is a healthy lifestyle – not smoking, drinking alcohol only moderately (if at all), maintaining a body mass index between 18.5 and 27.5, and engaging in vigorous aerobic exercise at least 75 minutes per week or moderately intense exercise at least 150 minutes weekly? Well, for one thing, it could lower your risk of dying from cancer. In a new study of 89,500 white women and 46,300 white men, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Oncology, maintaining a “healthy lifestyle pattern” was determined to decrease the risk of death from cancer by 59 percent for women and 67 percent for men and to reduce the rate of new cancers by 41 percent for women and 63 percent for men. So it might be a good idea to put down that second cocktail and head to the gym.

Divorce and eating

Forget all those movie scenes where female protagonists dig into a tub of ice cream after a breakup. Women’s diets don’t change much following a divorce, but divorced men’s diets deteriorate to the point where they actually have a clinical effect on the men’s health, according to a study published in Social Science & Medicine. The findings also held for marriages that ended in separation or the death of a spouse. Men whose marriages ended reduced their daily consumption of fruits and vegetables by about 25 percent over the course of the multiyear study, and their diets became significantly less varied, whereas women didn’t change their diets in statistically significant ways following the end of a marriage. Men’s alcohol consumption remained steady, whereas women drank slightly less alcohol — about one drink less a week — after their marriages ended.

Amy Reiter is a writer and editor based in New York. A regular contributor to The Los Angeles Times, she has also written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Glamour, Marie Claire, The Daily Beast and Wine Spectator, among others, as well as for Salon, where she was a longtime editor and senior writer. In addition to contributing to Healthy Eats, she blogs for Food Network’s FN Dish.

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Healthy Block Party Bites

Many neighborhoods celebrate the warm weather by throwing block parties. Filled with tons of food, including burgers, hot dogs, steak, side salads, beverages and desserts, block parties make it tough to stick to a healthy eating plan. And with all that food and all those hungry hands, there’s also a chance of a food safety snafu. Before heading out to your local block party, keep these tips in mind — and share them with the neighborhood!

Healthy Options

You can usually find some healthy bites at a block party if you go simple. Grilled corn on the cob (without gobs of butter), grilled chicken and watermelon can make a healthful, well-balanced meal. Oftentimes, however, you can’t help but take multiple servings of the broccoli salad laden with mayo — or try one of every protein cooked on the grill. Let’s also not forget about tossing back a few (or more!) beers, plus dessert. Don’t worry. You can tote along some of these healthy bites to your next block party to make things a little bit healthier:

  • Whole-wheat buns or large lettuce leaves for burgers and hot dogs
  • Grilled vegetables and fruit
  • Light beer and water bottles
  • Smaller plates, instead of the large dinner-sized ones

Continue reading “Healthy Block Party Bites”

From Haiti to Health IT: My Journey to ONC

I found my passion for health information technology (health IT) in the unlikeliest of places: a combat support hospital in Haiti. During my time as a Captain in the U.S. Army, I was assigned to support the 18th Airborne Corps. While deployed in Port-au-Prince, a superbly fit 20-something fellow soldier presented to my colleagues and […]

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