Grouper with Fresh Mint and Red Peppers

A few weeks ago, I shared this recipe for Grouper with Fresh Mint and Red Peppers on the blog In Good Taste, by the talented blogger, Maris Callahan. I wrote a guest post for her with a “Healthy Date Night” menu. I made the recipe the other day, and I wanted to share it with you too. For the fish, I used grouper, but feel free to substitute any of your favorite mild, white fish. This recipe is so easy, flavorful, low-fat and healthy. It can be prepared in under 30 minutes and makes a great date night, sunday night or any weeknight main dish.

Here are a few of my Healthy Date Night Tips:

-Shop the perimeter of the store, which means stay to the outside edges. This is where you will find the freshest, healthiest food items.

-Use fresh herbs and spices. When cooking with herbs and spices, fresh are always best. If you’re using dried seasonings, make sure they are the freshest possible. I only use freshly ground pepper.

-Use the freshest ingredients possible. Avoid canned, processed or preserved ingredients.

-Grill, steam, braise, stir-fry or roast foods instead of frying.

-Add more vegetables and legumes (peas, beans and lentils) to your menu.

-When a recipe calls for cream, substitute with Greek yogurt, low-fat yogurt, skim milk or soy milk.

-Don’t automatically salt your food. Taste it first.

-Select lean cuts of beef and pork. If preparing chicken, select skinless.

-Use reduced-sodium soy sauce and tomatoes.

-Use nonstick spray or olive or canola oil instead of butter or margarine.

-If you’re serving cheese as an appetizer or in recipes, select lower-fat options.

-If you’re serving warmed bread, choose whole grain.

-Serve wine but drink in moderation.

-Make the meal a special occasion. Set the table and create a relaxing ambiance to enjoy your food.

-Eat slowly and savor every bite.

-Laugh, talk and have fun. The more you talk, the slower you will eat and enjoy the meal.

Fresh Peach-Pecan Muffins

I have been on a huge peach kick lately with the juiciest, ripest peaches to choose from in Alabama. I made these Peach-Pecan Muffins this weekend for my kids, and they were quite popular. This recipe can be made with whole wheat or all-purpose flour, and I used medium fresh peaches. Our medium peaches are huge, so you may want to add more if yours aren’t that large (see my picture below from instagram on the iphone). Also, feel free to omit the pecans if you wish, but they do make them pretty and add an additional touch of southern flavor.

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.

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.

Easy and Healthy Beef and Broccoli

My three kids love Asian flavors. This easy and healthy Beef and Broccoli recipe is a hit every time that I make it. It’s so quick to prepare using very simple-to-find ingredients. I love using skirt steak as it’s very tender after being simply marinated with honey, fresh ginger, reduced-sodium soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic and red pepper flakes. Just marinate the steak for an hour or overnight, and dinner is on the table in less than 30 minutes. This dish is perfect for busy weeknights. I served with rice and some edamame beans, and everyone loved it (and was full).