A lot of taste that won’t hurt your waist!
By Mark Mulcahy
If you’re anything like me, you may have put on a little weight while staying at home during the pandemic. In my case, the main culprit was lots of good home cooking; I think I’ve tried 30 new recipes, and many are keepers! I had also gotten out of my exercise routine of swimming five days a week.
To get back on track, I turned to fresh produce to maintain the yumminess factor in my meals, build my nutrition, and lower my calorie intake - and it’s working!
My goal has been to keep my meals to no more than 600 calories each, so choosing healthy snacks like Melissa’s organic cubed cantaloupe, sliced berries, and celery sticks on my breaks has been instrumental in keeping me satisfied and on track. (They’re pretty easy, too!)
The latest research shows that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein, as well as low in fat, sugar, and junk food (and also includes plenty of exercise) is still the best option for preventing illness and living longer, so it’s a win all around.
I had a fantastic dinner a couple of nights ago that included a Melissa’s baked organic sweet potato, 2 cups of steamed organic chard, ½ an organic avocado, and 4oz of baked skinless chicken breast - and it was only about 400 calories!
Another meal included 2 cups of Melissa’s organic white mushrooms sliced and sautéed with ¼ of a diced yellow onion, a tablespoon of olive oil, 1 cup of organic black beans and a cup of fresh corn, spooned over a bed of organic arugula, and still I was within my 600-calorie range.
Planning out my meals has been a big help, as well as making extra so that I have leftovers for lunches. Keeping my produce bins filled with what I know I will eat has made this a whole lot easier.
If I’ve piqued your curiosity, this is the perfect season to start getting back on track! The weather’s nice, Melissa’s organic summer produce is abundant, and exercising outside while practicing social distancing is being highly encouraged everywhere throughout the country.
If you want to try an amazing recipe to get you started that is great both hot or cold, try this Roasted Sweet Potato Salad from Averie Cooks that I adapted. It’s easy to make and will hold up in your refrigerator for about 5 days, if you don’t eat it all before that!
Here’s what you need for 4-6 servings:
About 1¼ pounds Melissa’s organic sweet potatoes (about 2 jumbo), washed, peeled, and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
One 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 Melissa’s organic green onions, trimmed and thinly sliced (use the white and green)
1 medium Melissa’s organic red bell pepper, seeded and diced small
1 cup Melissa’s organic fresh corn
½ cup Melissa’s organic cilantro leaves, minced (about half of 1 bunch)
Honey Dijon Dressing
2 tablespoons organic honey
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons Melissa’s organic lemon juice (lime juice may be substituted)
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
½ teaspoon pepper, or to taste
pinch cayenne pepper, optional and to taste
Preheat oven to 400F.
Line a baking sheet with a silpat or spray with cooking spray and add the sweet potatoes in an even, flat layer. Evenly drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and bake for about 45 minutes, or until fork-tender and done. Halfway through baking flip potatoes to ensure even cooking. Baking time will vary based on size of potatoes, oven and climate variances, and I recommend starting to check at 30 minutes for doneness. Potatoes are done when they are soft firm (remember they need to hold up in a salad) While your potatoes bake, prep and chop the remaining ingredients.
To a large bowl, add the black beans, green onions, red pepper, corn, cilantro; set aside.
To a large measuring cup or medium bowl, add the honey, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, optional cayenne pepper, and whisk to combine; set aside.
After potatoes are cooked, add them to the bowl with the beans and vegetables, add the sauce, and toss to combine. Taste check for seasoning balance (add more salt, pepper, touch of honey, lemon juice, etc.), make any necessary tweaks, and serve.
I love it so much that I doubled this recipe.
Enjoy the season and the pleasure of getting back to a healthy routine with Melissa’s organic produce!