Homemade Caramel Corn

Homemade Caramel Corn anyone? This child (and adult) favorite is a great snack, dessert or even fun tailgating recipe. It also makes a great fall or Christmas food gift. I love this homemade Caramel Corn because it’s simple to prepare and uses a variety of almonds, pecans and walnuts, adding more protein. Make this even healthier by using my Saucepan Popcorn recipe to pop your popcorn. It’s so easy and uses no microwave. Be careful, this can get very addicting 🙂

Easy Grilling: Jamaican Spiced Flank Steak

I do a lot of grilling in the summer, but honestly, I am grilling year-round. Every year, I work on so many grilling recipe projects for food clients, magazines and cookbooks, and my kids love almost anything that is cooked on the grill. Flank steak is always on the top of my list, and I love this Jamaican Flank Steak recipe. The marinade is really fabulous, made with orange juice, lime juice, fresh ginger, brown sugar, pepper and cinnamon. One of my friends tried it, and she told me she only cooks flank steak this way now. Serve this with a tossed salad, fresh fruit or grilled asparagus, and dinner is fresh, healthy and simple.

Simple Summery Peach Pie

Living in Alabama does have its perks, especially living near easy access to fresh Chilton County Peaches. I have been visiting Durbin Farms since I was a child, and they still have the most unbelievable peaches. These peaches (below) were bigger than a softball, sweet, juicy and bursting with fresh peach flavor. A friend of mine passed me this recipe for Simple Peach Pie, and it really can’t get much easier than this. It’s fast with very few ingredients, and it was gone before I could turn around. When you have peaches this sweet, you don’t even need vanilla ice cream on the side, but it is a good addition :).

Three Ingredients: Blueberry-Banana Ice

Sometimes simple is better, and recipes with only three ingredients actually can be as flavorful as if they had nine. This Blueberry-Banana Ice is one of those recipes that is almost too basic (and good) to be true just in time for July 17th “National Ice Cream Day.” Purchase ripe bananas and in season blueberries and freeze them (I used zip-top plastic bags). Remove and toss in the food processor or blender with a touch of honey, and you’re done. Feel free to experiment with other berries if you wish. This is the perfect healthy dessert for summertime, and it truly hits the spot.

Only Five Ingredients: Healthy Salmon Salad

We eat a good bit of canned Alaskan salmon at my house. For those of you who have never tried it or are wrinkling your forehead as you read, give it a try. I particularly like “Pure Alaska Salmon” (their Pure Alaska’s “ReadHead” wild sockeye salmon and “Think Pink” pink salmon). Both are similar nutritional powerhouses since they are high in protein, calcium, Vitamin D and one of the richest sources of Omega-3 fatty acids. This recipe for Healthy Salmon Salad is too easy and only five ingredients. I love combining the sweet, tartness of raspberry balsamic vinegar with fresh dill. Enjoy this for lunch over a bed of arugula or mixed greens, or even for dinner on a warm night with pasta salad and fresh asparagus.

Easy Grilled Italian Romaine Salad

Perfect for a busy weeknight or Sunday afternoon, this Easy Grilled Romaine Salad is so flavorful. Use a store-bought balsamic vinaigrette to marinate the vegetables, and then grill them to bring out their flavor even more. Gorgonzola tastes great sprinkled on top, but you may substitute feta, Parmesan or goat cheese if you wish. Feel free to add grilled chicken, steak or shrimp for a main-dish salad. Serve with some crusty bread and olive oil, and dinner is ready.

Zucchini-Wrapped Scallops

I am having such a great summer so far. Lots of travel, work, fun and family time… and more to come. This gives me a huge smile. In celebration, I thought I would share this perfect recipe for summer. These Zucchini-Wrapped Scallops are a fun twist on a great appetizer or main dish. These are simple to prepare: under 30 minutes from start to finish. They are so light, healthy and fresh, so what more can I say? I made these recently for a party, and everyone went nuts. Cheers to summer!

Salmon-Pasta Salad

Salmon Pasta Salad has to be one of my favorite new salad recipes. My sister gave me this recipe which she found in Ellie Krieger’s Book, “So Easy”. She brought me some, and I was hooked. Made with Greek yogurt, fresh lemon juice, dill and peas, this salad can’t be beat. Use canned wild red salmon and frozen green peas to make things even easier and quicker. I love eating this every day for lunch, but this would make a fabulous recipe for Mother’s Day or a spring shower.

My 10 Top Healthy Cooking Tips

I saw a friend at the ball park over the weekend, and she asked, “Alison, can you give me some tips for cooking healthier?” I said, sure. I’ll write a few down for you. So here goes… Some of these may come easy for some of you, but hopefully, I can lend some new ideas as well.

1. Use salt sparingly-You can always add more, but you can’t take it away. Most Americans consume more salt than they need. Salt can lead to higher blood pressure and bloating. Consuming foods high in salt becomes even much more noticeable as you get older. I can’t stand the feeling of waking up feeling puffy.

2. Grill more-Grilling is a great way to prepare healthy fish, chicken and meat as well as vegetables. What I really love about it is that my kids love to eat most anything grilled, and they are even more willing to try foods cooked on the grill.

3. Buy seasonal, buy local-Purchasing seasonal fruits, vegetables and fresh herbs and purchasing locally grown ingredients, will help you stay on track.

4. Simpler is always better-Starting with cooking with less ingredients, but fresh ones.

5. Choose Leaner and lower-fat ingredients-Choose leaner cuts of meats, lower fat milk, low-fat cheese, low-fat yogurt and reduced-fat mayonnaise. Start with smaller steps to gain great strides. Also, don’t forget to trim fat from meats.

6. Broil, steam, roast and grill foods instead of frying– If you choose to fry foods, try oven frying instead.

7. Substitute 2 egg whites for 1 whole egg when called for in recipes-This helps to to reduce fat content.

8. Read food labels-Be sure to choose foods with lower sodium, fat, sugar, carbohydrates and saturated fat.

9. Choose fresh-Use fresh juice from lemons, limes and oranges combined with fresh herbs and spice to season foods.

10. Cook with healthy oils such as Canola and olive oil-Also, try to cook with nonstick cookware more often to reduce the amount of oil needed.

Blueberry Spritzer

Blueberries are a nutritional powerhouse. Recently Tufts University conducted a study of 60 various fruits and vegetables and found that blueberries rated the highest for their antioxidant capabilities. They have been linked to great health benefits and are said to help prevent alzheimer’s, prevent urinary tractions, improve aging and eyesight and more. This refreshing summery beverage is a cinch to make with only 4 ingredients. It’s a hit with adults as well as the kids.