Many of us strive to be responsible with what types of food we put on the table for our families and loved ones. And our attention to this effort can be heightened when it’s time to set lavish spreads for holiday meals such as Thanksgiving.
There are a dizzying array of options in the store when it comes to selecting something as seemingly simple as Thanksgiving turkey. How do you decide which one is best for you?
What I usually tell people is buy the highest quality you can afford. While there can be significant taste differences between standard turkeys and their heritage-bred cousins (and, for the adventurous, wild turkeys), perhaps more vital is how the birds are raised and prepared.
I hope this brief guide will help you wade through the confusing labels and names as you go shopping for your Thanksgiving (or any meal, really).
It’s important to take these labels as general guidelines, though. Infinitely more important is knowing where your bird came from and being confident in the producer. There are cases, unfortunately, where producers skirt the rules to gain certification but don’t honor the spirit of the designation. Likewise, many birds can be raised ethically and sustainably with no indication of such. And best poultry probably comes with the least packaging, anyway.
Types of Turkeys
The term “organic” is a moving target, and the labeling of food as such can be contentious. However, any birds labeled “certified organic” by the USDA have been fed approved organic grains (in accordance with a list of rules), have not been treated with antibiotics or given growth hormones and have been given freedom of movement. You can find other conditions that producers must meet to earn a “certified organic” label at the USDA’s site.
If you see “free-range” on the package or you are told the bird you are ordering is free-range, that means it has not spent its entire life confined to a cage and was given, again, freedom of movement and “access” to the outdoors, but it may have been kept in a barn. Unfortunately, this is a label that can lead to some dishonesty, since producers need only have an exit to the outdoors available to the turkeys, and they may never actually get outside and there are no limits to how many turkeys can be stuffed into a barn. Again, this is where it’s important to trust your producer and source.
This goes one step beyond “free-range”: These birds have open and unfettered access to the outdoors and are left free to wander as they see fit. Sometimes though (often), they just want to sit around. These birds graze in the outdoors, and, because of a diet high in grasses, its meat will be higher in Omega 3 fats (a good fat), though it may be leaner than what you are used to.
All of the above turkeys would be raised on a vegetarian-fed diet, meaning their diets are free of all animal by-products (though they may not adhere to the strict standards set out for organic certification). Turkeys are naturally vegetarian (except for pecking at a few worms and bugs), but often large commercial farms put animal byproducts from their other operations in the turkeys’s feed.
There are many different types of heritage-bred turkeys — American Bronze, Narragansett and Bourbon Reds, to name just a few — too many to list here, and these are the equivalent of the heirloom tomatoes of the poultry world. Unlike Broad-breasted turkeys (the common supermarket birds you are likely used to, which have been cross-bred to create birds with more meat — though not more flavor). The heritage-bred turkeys still breed naturally (the common domestic turkey is the result of artificial insemination), graze on grasses, bugs and worms, and they do run and fly (consequently they are leaner and have much smaller breasts, so you won’t want to roast them as long or they’ll dry out). They may have distinct flavors and appearances that vary drastically from their hybrid cousins.
Some conventionally-raised turkeys are given antibiotics — not because they’re sick, but because it helps them grow faster. An antibiotic-free label is your assurance that this was not the case. To meet “certified organic” specifications, a bird must be ABF-free, so the labeling may also indicate that the bird did not meet all the other standards necessary to be considered organic.
The term natural does not refer to how the turkey was raised, but how it was processed after slaughter. To earn this designation the only requirement is that the bird must not have been injected with preservatives or anti-microbials or other additives, such as artificial flavor or coloring.
Kosher turkeys are slaughtered in kosher slaughterhouses. Besides being a approved by a rabbi, these facilities also follow specific rules based on Jewish law. After the feathers are removed, the birds are soaked in cold water and heavily salted. This creates a sort of pre-brine, and whether or not they buy the bird for religious reasons, many people who enjoy brined-cooking prefer the convenience of not having to do this themselves.
If you see this on the label of a frozen turkey — it may also say this been done to “enhance moistness” or some such similar nonsense — run far away. Freezing does dry out the meat, as I said above, but a yucky solution of salt, sodium phosphates, sugar and artificial flavoring will do nothing for your feast.
At the links below you’ll find resources for to help you find various natural, free-range, pastured, organic and heritage-bred birds.
Check out Local Harvest to find a local turkey farmers near you:
On Nov. 21 I’ll be hosting a chat on Twitter using the hashtag #GetYourGobbleOn #CompleteYourFeast where you’ll have the opportunity to ask all of your questions about buying a turkey, cooking it and planning a Thanksgiving meal.
You can follow me on Twitter @cherylforbergrd and look for the #GetYourGobbleOn #CompleteYourFeast chat.
During the Twitter chat we’ll also be giving away some goodies to help you to get started preparing a healthy holiday meal, including a gift basket from Melissa’s Produce full of onions, potatoes, mushrooms, squash, garlic, rice, herbs and more. And for that all-important centerpiece: an American Heirloom turkey from the Diestel Family Turkey Ranch. These bronze and black birds are rich in flavor, certified organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, and GAP Step 3 Rated. @DiestelTurkey
The Diestel Family Turkey Ranch is located in Sonora, California. For four generations, the family has been naturally raising turkeys on their beautiful farm nestled in the Sierra Foothills. Their ranching style, family-farming secrets, and strict sustainable standards consistently produce a better, tender and juicier turkey with real, old-fashioned flavor.
One of the last small, family-owned turkey grower-processors in the United States, the Diestel family raises a variety of different turkeys. Whether the turkey of choice is their artisanal American Heirloom known for more rich and flavorful meat; a GAP 5+ rated pasture-raised turkey; their certified organic turkey (Heidi’s Hens), or Diestel’s original, broad-breasted turkey possessing exceptional flavor, all of Diestel’s birds have one thing in common: They taste like turkey should. Click here to learn more about Diestel’s holiday birds.
Diestel turkeys are available at select retailers across the country. Visit this link to find a store near you.
(You must live within the contiguous U.S. to be eligible to win.) Join in the chat for your chance to win! #ad
Follow Chef Cheryl Forberg, RD on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CherylForbergRD
After 15 seasons as nutritionist for NBC’s The Biggest Loser, Cheryl Forberg has uncovered stunning facts about typical eating and lifestyle habits that cause millions of Americans to gain
thousands of pounds each year. She also knows how to interpret that information to promote weight loss. We’ve all seen the success of the hundreds of people Cheryl has helped “behind the scenes”
at The Biggest Loser – and now the secrets and insights of one of the country’s top weight loss experts can be yours.
This handy pocket guide will be your go-to book for weight loss. Keep one in your car, stash one in your handbag and leave one on your kitchen counter.
In A Small Guide to Losing Big, Cheryl makes it easy – weight loss basics, nutrition tips, menus and recipes in a no nonsense pocket guide.
Pre-order now for free shipping when the book is available – approximately December 20, 2014
This is the cookbook the cast is using this season on The Biggest Loser. Get your copy today for half price and free shipping! Buy now
One of the cornerstones of any successful diet plan (and something I’ve always stressed to The Biggest Loser contestants) is that the quality of your calories is just as important as the quantity. It’s as important distinction to remember, especially when you are decreasing the number of calories you are eating in order to drop weight – so choose wisely.
Freshness equals flavor.
Regardless of the recipe, the quality of the outcome is a function of
the quality of the ingredients you use. Buy the freshest,
highest-quality foods you can afford. Depending on your budget, it’s
not always possible to buy organic produce and prime-grade fish,
poultry and meats. But on the other hand, once you’re comfortable
experimenting with a variety of flavors and styles, you may discover
you’re dining out less without missing out on flavor – which can
result in substantial savings. Similarly, focusing your diet on
“clean” foods made from fresh, whole ingredients is likely to be more
filling and satisfying than consuming an abundance of processed foods;
you may find you need less of the good stuff and achieve savings
through quality over quantity.
Buy seasonal and local produce.
Although our expansive, modern supermarkets stock produce year-round,
many items travel thousands of miles to reach the shelves. To keep
costs down – both yours and the environment’s – try visiting a local
farmers’ market and acquainting yourself with what’s available
seasonally. You’ll find the produce is not only a better value, but it
tastes better, too.
Grow your own.
You don’t have to own a farm to grow your own herbs. All you need is a
sunny windowsill and a few flower pots to start your own patch of
basil, rosemary or thyme. Not only will you save money on buying fresh
herbs, but you’ll also be able to snip off just what you need instead
of buying a big bunch that you’ll never be able to use up. If you have
a little more room outside, consider planting a few of your favorite
vegetables – the flavor of tomatoes or snap peas right off the vine is
unparalleled. And the satisfaction of growing, cooking and eating your
own food is well worth the investment of time and resources.
Shop more frequently and buy less food.
There’s nothing worse than buying lots of tantalizing produce, only to
have it spoil before you have a chance to use it all. If you’re used
to shopping once a week or less, you may find it’s best to add a
mid-week shopping trip to your schedule so you can buy produce in
smaller quantities and avoid waste.
Get to know your butcher and fishmonger.
If you’re used to buying pre-packaged meats, poultry and fish, it can
be intimidating to step up to the counter and ask questions. But
butchers and fishmongers are extremely knowledgeable resources and
offer a wealth of information about the most flavorful cuts of meat
and which fish are most plentiful now (and hence cost less) – so ask
away! Most professionals are also happy to debone your meats and skin
your fish fillets, saving you time in the kitchen. And you may be
surprised by some of the valuable cooking tips they have to offer!
When we are trying to lose weight, the temptation is to eat less, but, in fact, the smart strategy is to eat more — well, more often, actually. Eating small snacks at regular intervals prevents you from becoming famished at any point during the day. It’s when we are “starving” that we are most likely to reach for unhealthy foods and overeat.
The same goes for when we come in from a workout. The temptation is to raid the fridge or cabinets. Snacking at intervals before (and even during) exercise prevents this. Eating regular, small portions keeps your blood sugar stable and helps your body to recognize hunger cues. And of course, no matter how often or infrequently you eat, the name of the game is making the right choices. I discuss this issue in more detail in my upcoming book, Flavor First, which is also chock full of prepare-ahead snacks and appetizers that you can make at home.
Below are six quick and healthy high-protein snacks that will keep you on the right track. Each has near a 150 calories and provides more than 10 grams of protein.
Good Eggs: “Deviled Eggs” — 3 hard boiled egg halves, whites only, each half filled with 1 tablespoon hummus (140 calories, 10 grams protein)
Green Gobbling: 2/3 cup edamame in the shell (158 calories, 13 grams protein)
String Theory: 1 low-fat mozzarella cheese stick and 1 large fresh orange (140 calories, 10 grams protein)
Rye Society: 2 Wasa Rye Crackers and 2-1/2 ounces lox (smoked salmon) (150 calories, 14 grams protein)
Gobble, Gobble: Half a turkey sandwich 1 slice whole grain bread with 1 ounce turkey, 1 slice low-fat Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato and 2 teaspoons mustard (150 calories, 14 grams protein)
Greece-y Spoon: 2/3 cup non-fat Greek yogurt plus 1/2 cup blueberries and 1 tablespoon almonds (150 calories, 15 grams protein)
Here is an easy Biggest Loser-friendly recipe for a holiday dessert
As the holiday season approaches, we spend more time at home with our families and in the kitchen, cooking up traditional holiday meals. At the same time, the holidays can be a season where we’re distracted and busy, which can lead to being unfocused in the kitchen and cause accidents.
Cooking has been the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries since 1990, and in 2011, it moved up to the second leading cause of home fire deaths, according to the National Fire Protection Association. In a recent study from Liberty Mutual Insurance more than half (56 percent) of surveyed consumers say they plan to cook for family or friends during the holidays this year – with 42 percent of those cooking for groups of 11 or more. However, the large majority (83 percent) admit to engaging in dangerous cooking behaviors which increase the likelihood of kitchen fires, such as disabling the smoke alarm and leaving cooking food unattended to perform non-essential activities, such as watch television, talk on the phone or do laundry.
With three times more kitchen fires on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day than any other day of the year, Cheryl Forberg, celebrity chef and nutritionist, has joined Liberty Mutual Insurance to offer tips on how to make this holiday season safer. “The hectic nature of entertaining during the holidays makes it easy to overlook even the most basic cooking safety rules,” said Forberg. “Our hope is that home chefs will increase their awareness and take action to ensure a safe and enjoyable holiday season for everyone.”
- Stay in the kitchen. Don’t leave the kitchen when you are frying, broiling or grilling. If you leave the kitchen even for a brief time, be sure to turn off all of the burners on the stovetop. More than two in five consumers say that they have left the room to watch television or listen to music. The holidays can be a busy time, so while multi-tasking is tempting, it’s important not to leave the stove or oven unattended.
- Set a timer as a reminder that the stove is on. With all of the activities happening during the holidays, it’s common to get distracted. Forty-two percent of consumers say they have left the kitchen to talk or text on their and 35% use the computer or read and send emails while food is cooking, making it easy to lose track of time. Check your food frequently when it’s on the stovetop and use a timer to remind yourself that the stove or oven is on.
- Keep anything that can catch on fire away from the stovetop. Pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, towels and other flammable objects should be kept a safe distance from the stovetop.
- Be prepared for grease fires. Keep a lid or cookie sheet and oven mitt nearby when you’re cooking to use in case of a grease fire. Fire extinguisher use without training can cause a grease fire to spread and increase the chances of getting seriously injured.
- Ensure your smoke alarms are functional.Install a smoke alarm that is at least 10 feet away from your kitchen and use the test button to check it each month. Replace the battery at least once a year and never disable a smoke alarm. Alarmingly, nearly a third of consumers report they have intentionally disabled smoke alarms while cooking.
Looking for healthier options to serve your family each day? And what about your upcoming Thanksgiving table?
This fall, I’ve spent more time cooking with the cast than ever before and I will be sharing every tip and every recipe with you – right here. Though Thanksgiving is still weeks away, it is a special meal and requires extra shopping and preparation time. Here The staple ingredients of this holiday’s comfort food hold plenty of health promise. After all, most of the time the Thanksgiving spread features plenty of nutritious vegetables as side dishes, while turkey is low in both calories and fat and contains plenty of iron. With a little culinary know-how, your Thanksgiving can be a guilt-free, healthful but still scrumptious feast. This entire menu is from Flavor First.
1/2 boneless, skinless turkey breast, about 1 1/2 pounds
1 1/2 cups Cornbread and Dried Fruit Dressing (recipe below)
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon marjoram
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon sage
1 Tablespoon grapeseed oil
1. Preheat oven to 350 °F.
2. Place large piece of plastic wrap on countertop. Place turkey breast half on plastic and cover. Cover with additional plastic wrap. Using meat mallet, pound turkey to rectangle about 9-10 X 6 inches, about 1/4-inch thick.
3. Remove plastic wrap from top of turkey and spread dressing evenly lengthwise over surface, almost to edge. Roll turkey lengthwise. With kitchen twine, tie roulade lengthwise once and in several places across turkey. Discard plastic wrap.
4. In small bowl, mix together spices. Rub grapeseed oil over all surfaces of roulade; rub spice blend evenly over roulade.
5. Place roulade in shallow roasting pan, then place in oven. Roast for 45-60 minutes or until internal temperature measured with an instant-read thermometer reads 155 °F.
6. Remove roulade from oven and let rest 15 minutes before carefully removing twine and slicing into 16 half-inch slices.
Nutrition per (4 ounce) serving
Total Fat 3.5 g
Saturated Fat < 1 g
Cholesterol 65 mg
Sodium 150 mg
Carbohydrate 5 g
Fiber 0 g
Sugars 1 g
Protein 22 g
Cornbread and Dried Fruit Dressing – it’s gluten –free too!
Makes 6 cups (enough for Turkey Roulade) and 8 side dish servings
4 cups cornbread cubes, dried
4 ounces lean Italian turkey sausage, casing removed
1 Tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 cup chopped yellow or white onions
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped carrot
1 small garlic clove, crushed
4 each dried apricots and pitted dried plums, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
3/4 teaspoon dried sage
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 cup fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Grapeseed oil cooking spray
1 egg, lightly beaten
1. Preheat oven to 350 °F. Place cornbread cubes in large bowl and set aside.
2. In small nonstick skillet, cook sausage over medium-high heat, crumbling and stirring until brown and cooked through. Drain well and set aside.
3. In large nonstick skillet, heat grapeseed oil over medium heat. Stir in onions, celery and carrot; cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute longer, but don’t allow garlic to brown. Stir in sausage, apricots, plums, thyme, sage, marjoram and 1/4 cup broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 3 minutes.
4. Remove from heat; pour vegetable mixture over cornbread. Add parsley and stir well. Season with salt and pepper. (Dressing may be prepared to this stage a day ahead and refrigerated, covered.)
5. Whisk together egg and remaining 3/4 cup broth and pour over cornbread mixture, tossing well. Spray 2-quart baking dish with grapeseed oil cooking spray (use larger baking dish if not reserving dressing for Turkey Roulade) and transfer all but 1 1/2 cups of dressing to baking dish. Cover dish with foil and set aside.
6. After Turkey Roulade has been in oven 30 minutes, place covered baking dish of dressing in oven. After 15 minutes (or when internal temperature of roulade, measured with instant-read thermometer, is 155 °F), remove roulade from oven and remove foil from baking dish with dressing. Continue baking dressing for about 15 minutes or until top begins to brown.
Nutrition per (1/2 cup) serving
Total Fat 3.5 g
Saturated Fat 1 g
Cholesterol 30 mg
Sodium 310 mg
Carbohydrate 12 g
Fiber 1 g
Sugars 4 g
Protein 3 g
Porcini Mushroom Gravy
1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
2 Tablespoons warm water
1 1/2 Tablespoons grapeseed oil
3/8 cup white whole-wheat flour
2 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
3/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or to taste
1. Soak mushrooms in warm water for 5 minutes.
2. In 2-quart saucepan, heat grapeseed oil over medium heat. Whisk in flour until blended and continue stirring until roux is lightly browned and develops nutty aroma.
3. Whisk in broth, optional salt and onion powder. Bring to a gentle boil until just thickened, stirring. Cook and stir for 1 minute. Remove from heat and season with pepper. Add softened mushrooms and any soaking liquid.
4. Purée gravy in food processor or food mill. Return mixture to saucepan. Heat just to a simmer.
Nutrition per (1/4 cup) serving
Total Fat 3 g
Saturated Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 115 mg
Total Carbohydrate 5 g
Fiber 2 g
Sugar 0 g
Protein 1 g
2 Tablespoons grapeseed oil
2 bunches broccoli (or 3 bunches broccolini), about 3 1/4 pounds, rinsed, trimmed and cut into 3-inch pieces
3 large garlic cloves, minced or crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups diced roasted red bell pepper, from one 12-ounce jar
3 Tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted
1. Heat very large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add grapeseed oil to pan; add rapini, garlic and salt. Toss well, reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Cook for 10 minutes or until rapini are tender, turning a few times while cooking.
2. Add roasted pepper and toasted almonds, toss and serve.
Nutrition per (1 cup) serving
Fat 5 g
Saturated Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 55 mg
Carbohydrate 11 g
Fiber <1 g
Sugar 3 g
Protein 7 g
Warm Apple and Cranberry Sauce
1 Tablespoon grapeseed oil
4 large Fuji apples, about 2 pounds, cored, quartered lengthwise and cut into half-inch pieces
1/4 cup water
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup coarsely chopped dried cranberries
1/8 teaspoon salt (optional)
1. In large, heavy saucepan, heat grapeseed oil and add apples. Sauté over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until apples are lightly caramelized. Add water and lemon juice to pan, cook and stir briefly to deglaze pan.
2. Carefully transfer apples to bowl of food processor and pulse just a few times to chunky consistency. Stir in vanilla, cinnamon and cranberries. Serve warm.
Nutrition per (1/3 cup) serving
Total Fat 1 g
Saturated Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 0 mg
Total Carbohydrate 9 g
Fiber 2 g
Sugars 6 g
Protein 0 g
Grapeseed oil cooking spray
3 eggs, omega-3-enriched if available
1 1/4 cup pumpkin purée
7 Tablespoons (1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons) maple syrup
5 1/2 teaspoons grapeseed oil
1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups low-fat milk, heated until very hot
Boiling water, about 1 quart
Ground nutmeg (garnish)
1. Preheat oven to 350 °F. Adjust oven rack to center position. Coat eight 6-ounce custard cups or ramekins with grapeseed oil cooking spray and set them in 13 X 9-inch baking pan.
2. In large bowl, beat eggs slightly; add pumpkin purée, maple syrup, grapeseed oil, vanilla, spices and salt. Beat with mixer until blended thoroughly. Mix in hot milk until blended. There will be about 4 cups of liquid. Pour 1/2 cup flan mixture into each prepared ramekin.
3. Carefully pour boiling water into baking pan around ramekins. Water should come up to level of custard inside ramekins.
4. Bake 40-45 minutes or until set around the edges but still a little loose in center. When center of flan is just set, it will jiggle a little when shaken. Remove from oven and immediately remove ramekins from water bath; cool on wire rack until room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
5. Serve cold and garnish with ground nutmeg. This dessert can be made up to 3 days in advance. Keep refrigerated until serving.
Tip: Use leftover pumpkin purée in a smoothie with yogurt, milk, sweet spices (cinnamon, ginger, cloves) and a drizzle of agave nectar, honey or maple syrup.
Nutrition per (1 flan) serving
Fat 7 g
Saturated Fat 1.5 g
Cholesterol 110 mg
Sodium 220 mg
Carbohydrate 24 g
Fiber 2 g
Sugar 18 g
Protein 6 g
The Holiday season is already upon us, and many of my wonderful fans and followers on Facebook and Twitter have been asking for simple tips and recipes for kids during the holidays that busy moms and dads can use to both entertain and inspire healthful snacking. Below I have included both a short list of quick and easy snack ideas that can also both be fun and healthy for parents and kids alike. I have also included a delightful recipe from my forthcoming “Cooking with Quinoa for Dummies” book, set to be released early next month, for amazing Quinoa Breakfast Bars, full of fiber and flavor that are sure to impress.
- Air popped popcorn – you can even string them up and use as a Christmas tree decoration!
- Ants on a log – spread low fat cream cheese or peanut butter on a celery stalk and sprinkle on some raisins or dried cranberries, blueberries or cherries.
- Fresh fruit kabobs – use what’s in season such as apples, and pears, bananas
- Apple smiles – slice up an apple and spread peanut butter on them and arrange on plate as
- Fresh fruit smoothies – even using fresh frozen fruit for this fun treat is healthy. low fat yogurt
milk to boost the nutritional value and calcium for strong bones.
- Yogurt and fruit layered parfaits –
a touch of agave nectar to add sweetness and a spoonful of granola for crunch.
- Snowflakes – take a whole-wheat tortilla and spread a thin layer of low fat cream cheese over the surface. Then sprinkle with cinnamon
Quinoa Breakfast Bars 
Yield 24 bars
Cooking oil spray
2 ½ cups gluten-free old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick)
½ cup quinoa flour
½ cup nonfat dry milk powder
½ cup unsweetened coconut
½ cup sliced almonds or chopped pecans
½ cup chopped dried apples or other dried fruit or berries
½ cup currants or raisins
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup dark honey
½ cup natural almond butter or peanut butter
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly coat a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with cooking oil spray.
2 In a large mixing bowl, measure the rolled oats, quinoa flour, milk powder, coconut, almonds, dried apples, currants, and salt. Stir well to combine and set aside.
3 In a small saucepan, warm the honey and nut butter over low heat, stirring occasionally until blended. Do not boil. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
4 Add the warm honey mixture to the dry ingredients and quickly stir the mixture until it’s well combined. The mixture will be sticky but not wet.
5 Pat the mixture into the prepared baking pan and press firmly with your hands to remove any air pockets.
6 Bake the bars until they just begin to brown on the edges, about 25 minutes.
7 Cool for 10 minutes cut
8 When the bars are just cool enough to handle, remove them from the pan to a cooling rack. When they are completely cool, store them in an airtight container. Keep them in the refrigerator for optimal freshness.
Per serving: Calories 161 (From Fat 56); Fat 6g (Saturated 2g); Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 61mg; Carbohydrate 25g, Dietary Fiber 2g, Protein 4g
In my 12 seasons as nutritionist on The Biggest Loser, interviewing and coaching each and every contestant, I learned a great deal about the most common mistakes people make around the kitchen that can lead to weight gain. I also spent a great deal of time working with the contestants and developed simple and easy-to-follow guidelines.
When the Food Network’s Healthy Eats blog asked me about some of my top cooking tips for weight loss, recently these are the three I thought of immediately:
- Put Flavor First! Steamed broccoli and grilled chicken may help you drop pounds but it’s not a sustainable eating plan — too boring! You have to put FLAVOR FIRST. Having the right condiments, dressings and sauces on hand can turn a ho-hum meal into an extraordinary culinary experience. My favorite store bought items to keep on hand include, salsa, capers, no-sugar fruit spreads, guacamole, horseradish, mustards galore, low-sodium soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and I’m the Queen of homemade dressings, sauces, dips and “mayos.”
- Make extras or big batches: Whenever you cook, freeze half in individual containers. When hunger strikes you’ll always have a cup of soup, a pasta dish or a scrumptious leftover to reheat in minutes or take with you. No excuses for visiting the drive thru!
- Always have a bowl of fresh fruit in sight: Keep containers in the fridge of freshly cut veggies to graze on or to quickly heat or sauté. Most of us eat mindlessly much more often than we realize. If you’re going to graze anyway, feel good about it!
© Cheryl Forberg 2014