When you’re looking to get lean, exercise is only half the equation. You can do all the crunches in the world, but the foods you eat are every bit as important. As part of our Cook to Get Cut series, we’ll show you how to use some of the healthiest eats to sculpt your physique without sacrificing flavor. Getting fit never tasted so good.
Americans are a sugar-loving people, and the results of so much sweet stuff are not good. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, eating too much sugar can lead to weight gain, diabetes, and tons of diseases. Cutting down on packaged goods and desserts is definitely a good idea, but many people have become so fearful of sugar that they’re eliminating fruit from their diets. Yes, fruit has sugar, but it’s naturally occurring and the produce offers tons of other health benefits.
Built Lean said berries are actually one of the best foods for slimming down because they’re relatively low in sugar and calories, but have tons of nutrients and fiber. They’re great on their own, but you can use the little fruits in loads of dishes ranging from savory to sweet. We’ve picked five of our favorite berry recipes to take you from morning to night. These dishes let you get a little taste of something sweet without derailing your diet.
1. Cold Raspberry Almond Oatmeal
Oatmeal makes a nutritious breakfast any day, and it’s easy to customize toppings. A sweet and satisfying recipe from Men’s Journal uses raspberries for tons of flavor and almonds for a bit of crunch. It also contains yogurt to give you calcium and protein, plus chia seeds for omega-3s.
The sweet-tart taste of raspberries make them a delicious addition to your morning oats, and they also give your body a serious boost. Men’s Fitness likes these fruits, because they’re loaded with fiber and vitamin C. To get the most out of your berries, be sure to keep them dry. Hold off on washing until right before using, or they’ll start to go downhill faster.
- 1 cup oats
- ½ cup Greek yogurt
- 1 teaspoon chia seeds
- ¼ cup skim milk, plus more
- Honey or agave
- ½ cup raspberries
- ½ cup chopped almonds
Directions: Mix oats, yogurt, chia, ¼ cup milk in a bowl to combine. Add honey, to taste, and thin with additional milk, if desired. Mixture will keep in fridge up to two days.
Serve topped with almonds and raspberries.
2. Spinach Salad with Chicken, Strawberries, Blue Cheese, and Almonds
Change up your usual lunch with Fine Cooking’s fresh-tasting salad. You’ll get plenty of vitamins and fiber from the strawberries and spinach, and a dose of protein from the chicken. If you’re not a blue cheese fan, you can substitute goat cheese or feta. When salad is this flavorful, you’ll never go back to turkey on wheat.
- 2 tablespoons, plus ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, tenders removed
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup sliced almonds
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1 medium shallot, minced
- 6 ounces baby spinach leaves
- 8 ounces strawberries, hulled, and quartered
- 3 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
Directions: Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Pat chicken dry, and season with 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Cook, turning once, until just cooked, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board, and let rest 5 minutes, covered with foil.
Meanwhile, toast almonds in a dry 10-inch skillet over medium heat, tossing occasionally, until evenly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate, and let cool.
In a small bowl, whisk remaining oil with vinegar, honey, shallot, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper. In a a large bowl, combine spinach, berries, blue cheese, and almonds, and toss with enough dressing to coat. Arrange salad on plates. Slice chicken, and arrange over top. Drizzle with additional vinaigrette, and serve.
3. Grilled Salmon with Blackberry-Cabernet Coulis
The same seared salmon can get a little boring after a while. Give the fish a facelift with Sunset’s recipe, which tops grilled steaks with a luxurious wine and blackberry sauce. Though the directions call for Cabernet Sauvignon, any dry red wine will work. And there’s no need to break the bank, because plenty of affordable bottles are just as tasty as pricier ones.
Like raspberries, blackberries are loaded with fiber and vitamin C. These dark fruits also offer up lutein to keep your eyes healthy and vitamin K, which could help reduce your risk of prostate cancer. They’re also really tasty. You might want to buy extra, because you’re bound to snack on a few.
- 1 cup Cabernet Sauvignon or other dry red wine
- 2½ cups blackberries, rinsed, and drained
- 2 tablespoons minced shallots
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
- 2 to 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoons butter
- 6 (6- to 7-ounce) salmon steaks
- Salt and pepper
Directions: In a food processor, purée wine and 2 cups berries until smooth. Strain mixture through fine mesh strainer, and discard solids. Add shallots, ginger, and 2 tablespoons sugar. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring, until reduced to 1 cup, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in butter. Add more sugar, to taste, if desired.
Preheat grill to high, and grease grate. Rinse salmon, and pat dry. Coil belly strips of fish towards center, and secure with a small skewer. Season with salt and pepper. Lay salmon on grate, and cook, turning once, until opaque, but still moist in center, 7 to 10 minutes.
Set salmon steak on plates, and top with coulis. Garnish with remaining berries, and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
4. Pork Tenderloin with Blueberry Sauce
It’s time to give apples a rest and introduce pork to blueberries. Family Circle’s simple supper uses one pan to roast the meat along with some green beans, so you’ll have a complete meal once you simmer the sauce. If you’re extra hungry, cook a side of brown rice to soak up all of the flavorful blueberry juice.
With just 41 calories in ½ cup, blueberries are a winning choice for folks looking to get lean. Men’s Fitness recommended making the fruit a regular part of your diet, because the antioxidants help ward off disease and boost your memory.
- 1 (1¼- pound) pork tenderloin
- 2 teaspoons sodium-free chicken grill blend
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 12 ounces green beans, trimmed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1½ cups frozen blueberries, thawed
- ¼ cup cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Rub pork with seasoning and sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Place in roasting pan, and bake until internal temperature registers 155 degrees Fahrenheit on an instant-read thermometer, about 25 minutes.
When 10 minutes cooking time remain, remove pan, and spread beans around pork. Drizzle beans with ½ tablespoon olive oil. Stir, and return pan to oven.
Heat remaining oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook onion until softened, 3 minutes. Add blueberries vinegar, sugar, thyme, remaining salt, and remaining pepper. Cook 5 minutes, or until thickened. Serve pork and beans with sauce.
5. Clean Almond Berry Crumble
Dessert doesn’t have to be loaded with sugar and fat to taste great. This scrumptious crumble from Amy’s Healthy Baking might taste decadent, but it’s packed with oats, fruit, and whole-wheat flour, with just a touch of agave and butter. Don’t worry if the berries at your store don’t look stellar, because this recipe uses frozen fruit. And while this dessert is delicious on its own, a dollop of yogurt is a great, creamy topping that won’t kill the calorie count.
- ¾ cup old-fashioned oats
- ¼ cup whole-wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons agave
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 6 cups frozen mixed berries
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons almond extract
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan. In a small bowl, mix oats, flour, and cinnamon to combine. Add agave and butter, and mix to incorporate.
In a medium bowl, toss berries, cornstarch, and almond extract to combine. Spread berries into prepared pan, and evenly sprinkle oat mixture on top. Bake 35 to 45 minutes, until juices are bubbling and oats are browned. Crumble will thicken as it cools. Serve.