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38 Delicious Lunch and Dinner Ideas That Are High in Protein

38 Delicious Lunch and Dinner Ideas That Are High in Protein

Protein is important to include on your plate, but it can be tricky to make sure you’re getting enough of it. These quick high-protein meals have you covered, providing tasty options for lunches and dinners that will leave you satisfied.Before we get into the tasty high-protein recipes, though, let’s back track a bit and discuss what exactly protein is—and what it does for our bodies. First, protein is one of three macronutrients (along with fat and carbs) that our bodies need in sizable amounts. Why? It serves as a building block in our bodies, meaning it helps the cells in our bodies grow and repair. This is important for all of us, but it’s especially vital for people who exercise, since working out leads to tiny tears in the muscle—and protein helps muscles repair those tears so they can grow back stronger. Eating protein also helps us feel full and satisfied throughout the day.You’re probably most familiar with animal products, like poultry, beef, and eggs, as protein sources. While the nutrient is most abundant in those kinds of foods, it’s also readily available in plenty of plant-based ingredients well, so it’s possible to find foods high in protein for all types of eaters.As for how much protein to eat in a day? Well, that number varies, based on things like age, sex, overall calories consumed, and activity level, as SELF reported previously. But a decent baseline for the recommended daily allowance is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. (For a 150-pound person, for instance, that’s around 54 grams of protein a day.) Despite the fact that it’s definitely tempting to knock out all of these protein demands with a single, protein-rich meal, experts say it’s best to have some protein throughout the day, rather than loading it all up in one sitting. (Keeping snacks high in protein at the ready is a great way to make this a reality, as is brushing up on some high-protein breakfast options.) The main reason for doing this is that eating high protein foods with each meal helps keep your energy levels consistent, so you’re less likely to run into a 3 P.M. slump or feel tired right after you wake up. Plus, including a variety of protein-rich ingredients in your diet means you’ll also be getting other important vitamins and nutrients—like fatty acids from seafood or fiber from beans—at the same time, SELF has reported. So now that we’ve established the importance of protein, let’s get to the fun part: delicious dinners and lunches that are full of that macronutrient. These 38 high-protein meals encompass a range of lunch and dinner ideas for every kind of craving, schedule, and eating habits. You’ll find options for vegans and vegetarians that don’t leave you wanting, meaty meals that can be prepared entirely in one pan, and fresh and flavorful salads for the days when it’s too hot to turn on the oven. Whether you’re trying to eat a high-protein diet to meet your fitness goals or just want to feel your best each day, these ideas have you covered. 

36 Refreshing Cucumber Recipes That Aren’t All Salads

36 Refreshing Cucumber Recipes That Aren’t All Salads

Cucumber recipes are a staple during summertime because they’re so, so refreshing. And for good reason: The veggie is roughly 95% water, so it’s no wonder that recipes that feature cucumbers really hit the spot when temperatures heat up. Because of its quench factor, cucumbers often take center stage in lots of salad recipes. But that certainly doesn’t mean that cucumbers have no use elsewhere. In fact, the cool, crisp, and ridiculously hydrating vegetable is much more versatile than it’s given credit for. Its mild flavor pairs well with just about any assortment of ingredients, from sweet to savory. And that high water content makes it a natural fit for beverages like cocktails and infused waters. You’ll find that the water-rich veggie is great blended into sweet smoothies, frozen into a thirst-quenching, icy desserts, submerged in vinegar for crunchy, future pickles, or simply chopped raw for a quick and crisp sandwich topping. There are even a handful of cooked cucumber dishes that buck the belief that this vegetable can only be eaten raw. When prepared over heat, the cucumber’s water begins to evaporate, leaving behind a finished product that tastes of pure, concentrated, cucumber flavor. Unsure what to do? Try wrapping the vegetable in aluminum foil and throwing in on the grill a quick and tasty barbecue side dish; roast it low and slow with a bunch of olive oil for a decadent confit; or leave it raw and use it in a whole host of healthy salads. Basically, there’s no wrong way to put cukes to work. The next time you’re wondering what to make with cucumbers, these 36 recipes have you covered. They include dishes that take advantage of the vegetable’s crunchy texture—like quick pickles, sushi bowls, and spring rolls—as well as plenty of others that will help you experiment with the ingredient in unexpected ways. Because, as much as we love a cucumber salad, there are so many bright green gazpachos, stir-fries, sandwiches, and smoothies that await. 

30 Grilling Recipes for All Your Summer Barbecue Needs

30 Grilling Recipes for All Your Summer Barbecue Needs

Like beach days and sunscreen, grilling is one of those must-dos when the weather starts to get warm. And there are plenty of easy grilling recipes that will help you make the most of delicious cookout food all summer long—whether you’ve been barbecuing forever or it’s your very first time lighting up a pit.Though grilling can seem daunting at first, this outdoors, hands-on cooking method is no more complicated than your usual stovetop fare once you get comfortable with the basics. There are a couple of simple prep steps you need to take, but the actual cooking involved is just as simple as what you do in your kitchen on a daily basis—especially once you develop an intuitive feel for grilling (and confidence!) after a practice round or two.In fact, once you get the hang of it, cooking over a live fire can actually produce better, more consistent results than oven or stovetop cooking. Instead of trusting that your oven or electric range is at the right temperature or setting a timer and forgetting it, you can actually see and feel where the temperature is higher or lower on the grill when grilling and adjust accordingly. In general, bigger flames will be hotter, smaller ones cooler, and you can easily shift your food around depending on the kind of result you’re trying to achieve. Get a gorgeous char on a turkey or plant-based burger by placing it over a high flame for a couple minutes, for instance, then move it to a cooler spot for a few minutes more to allow the interior to finish cooking (or to keep it warm while your buns finish toasting).It may take a bit of trial and error to get used to the ins and outs of how to grill various foods to perfection, but once you do you’ll never want to go back to cooking inside. Because the best part of grilling—aside from the authentic flavor of food hot off the grates, of course—is the setting you do it in. Nothing beats enjoying the fresh air and beautiful weather, from sunny poolside afternoons to pleasant evening gatherings set to the sound of crickets (or city life), while you’re grilling up a summer feast.What are the steps to grilling?The basic steps of grilling involve cleaning the grill off (if necessary), getting your tools ready, preheating the grill, oiling the grates, getting your ingredients ready, and then cooking.When you break out the grill—whether it’s the first time you’re using it this season, a brand new grill, or just covered in icky stuff from the last use—you’ll need to clean it. Xochitl Bielma Bolton, owner and operator of Boston restaurant Bird & Wolf, tells SELF that you should start by unpacking your grill, removing any dust, and thoroughly washing the grates with soapy water and drying.You’ll also want to make sure you have the right materials on hand—your fuel source (gas, charcoal, or wood chips) and a couple of grilling accessories, Bolton says. As for fuel sources, charcoal and wood chips both add flavor to your food, but charcoal burns much hotter and longer than wood and therefore tends to produce more consistent results. On the other hand, gas grills are more predictable—but won’t infuse that same special, smoky taste into your food. Now onto tools: Grab a set of heat-resistant tongs for moving food around, a water spray bottle for managing heat and flare-ups, and a food thermometer to guarantee all your meat is safe to eat.After that, you’re ready to actually get cooking. First, heat the grill. Begin by starting a fire in the base of your barbecue with your chosen fuel source. If you’re using charcoal or wood chips, a large flame will form at first. As it subsides, you will need to add more fuel to build a base that stays hot enough to properly cook food. This preheating ritual can take up to 25 minutes (and sometimes longer), according to The Kitchn. So be patient and don’t be afraid to get started a little early. If you’re using a gas grill, however, you’ll only need roughly 15 minutes to ensure it’s fully preheated.Next, it’s time to prepare the grates. When everything is hot and ready to go, Bolton says that all you need to do is oil the grates of your grill, either using a wire or silicone pastry brush or a spray bottle. Placing food on an unoiled barbecue will make it more likely to get stuck and your grill much harder to clean later on.Finally, you’re ready to start cooking. The specifics here depend on the food you’re making, the recipe you’re following, and the exact results you’re after, but the gist of the method is always the same: Place your food items on the grill as instructed and tend to them as necessary. This may involve moving the food around based on the kind of heat exposure you’re looking for, for instance, as well as flipping, looking for signs of doneness, opening or closing the grill, and checking the internal temperature (for meat).After you’re done and the grill has cooled down, you’ll want to do a wipe-down to remove food remnants and residue. Regular cleaning will help prevent too much encrusted buildup. (For a deeper clean, follow the directions above or the manufacturer’s instructions.)What is the best thing to cook on the grill?Although there are so many things you can cook on a grill, not all foods are equally suited to this cooking method. In general, sturdier, larger, and more solid ingredients—like whole or halved vegetables or fruits, burgers, whole fish, and uncut pieces of meat—are preferred for grilling.That’s because these kinds of ingredients won’t slip easily through the grates the way some foods might, like chopped vegetables, delicate fish, or crumbly or semi-liquid ingredients. With many of these smaller or less cohesive ingredients—like sliced veggies, shrimp, or cubed meat—skewering is the way to go. Other times, like with a super tender fish filet or bunch of asparagus, foil packs are your answer. Grilling recipes will indicate when these methods are a good idea.What should I grill for the first time?The best grilling recipes for first-timers are the simplest ones. Think more substantial veggies and proteins that don’t require so much fine-tuning for excellent results.For beginner-friendly grilled dinner ideas, Bolton suggests starting with seasonal summer vegetables—think corn on the cob, halved zucchini, or bell peppers—and a forgiving protein, like chicken. (Salmon or burgers would also work.) That way, you can get comfortable with your home barbecue set-up and practice your hand. Over time, you’ll develop a more instinctive sense for how long various foods take on the grill or exactly what they look and smell like when they’re done just how you like them.This list below has got you covered—we’ve rounded up 30 easy grilling recipes that are perfect for beginners and experts alike. From meaty BBQ ideas to veggie-forward masterpieces, these are destined to be at your next summer barbecue.

45 Healthy Instant Pot Recipes You’ll Want to Cook Over and Over Again

45 Healthy Instant Pot Recipes You’ll Want to Cook Over and Over Again

Instant Pots have dominated the home cooking scene for years for good reason: There are just so many tasty and healthy Instant Pot recipes that you can make with the beloved gadget. This nifty appliance is capable of doing a lot, from whipping up dinner on a moment’s notice to being a key player in meal prep planning. The Instant Pot is perhaps most well known for its pressure-cooking function, which uses large amounts of pressure to cook everything from meat to vegetables more quickly than normal. (Or should we say instantly?) But this device has also got a bunch of other cool functions that make it even more of a kitchen ninja.We’ll expound on the Instant Pot’s rapid cooking capabilities in a minute, though. First, let’s talk about the other benefits of adding delectable, filling, easy, and healthy Instant Pot recipes to your repertoire. Beyond the fact that it’s a heck of a timesaver in that it cuts down on cooking time, Instant Pots can also make clean-up way faster and easier. You won’t end up with a sink full of dishes when everything is made in just the one pot. (This is the case with most but not all Instant Pot recipes.)The tool is also extremely handy on hot days when you’d rather not turn on the oven or stove, because as a small and insulated device, it’s not going to release a ton of heat into your kitchen. (And there are so many excellent summer Instant Pot recipes that will help you use it for this express purpose.)One more fantastic advantage of the Instant Pot? You might find yourself more apt to cook more of your meals and snacks at home when it’s so much faster and easier. (You may also feel inspired to make dishes that you wouldn’t ordinarily because of the reduced time commitment.) Now, let’s talk about all the healthy Instant Pot recipes at your fingertips—plus, the cases where you might want to skip the Instant Pot, and whether the Instant Pot is ideal for promoting healthful, enjoyable eating.What can you cook in an Instant Pot?Animal proteins (like beef and chicken), grains, beans and legumes, various veggies, yogurt, desserts, hard-boiled eggs, oatmeal, stews, curries, casseroles, and more can all be beautifully cooked in an Instant Pot.Many busy home chefs particularly love this little appliance because Instant Pot dinners drastically reduce the cooking time for dishes that typically have to simmer for a long time—like beef stew, pulled pork, bolognese sauce, chicken stock, and slow cooker chicken recipes. But you can also make pretty much any meal or meal prep component that you’d ordinarily cook on the stovetop.Don’t forget, though, that pressure cooking is just one of the Instant Pot’s many functions (at least six, depending on the model). The slow-cooking, sautéeing, and steaming functions are equally versatile for making delicious Instant Pot meals, while more specialized settings (like rice- and yogurt-making, and boiling eggs) will make specific cooking tasks a cinch. Because why do one thing when you can do them all?What should you not cook in an Instant Pot?Even though there’s an abundance of things that you can make with an Instant Pot, there are also a handful of ingredients that can’t handle the pressure very well—like pasta, dairy, and crispy foods.Delicate pasta can easily overcook and disintegrate; dairy products (like creamy sauces) can curdle or separate; and crispy things (like croutons and nuts) can get soggy. Often, you can avoid the issue by waiting to add certain ingredients until all the other parts have cooked. For instance, you can finish off a soup with a generous dose of cream, or use the sauté function to crisp bacon, then set it aside, and finally add it back to your dish at the end.Meanwhile, you’ll want to be careful when cooking more delicate proteins (like fish) or veggies (like asparagus) so that you don’t turn them into totally over-cooked mush. You can generally achieve that by following the recipe instructions regarding the timing and settings.Finally, some dishes are just not Instant Pot-friendly—anything that requires some serious searing (like steak) or crisping (like fried chicken) is probably best made using another method.Is cooking with an Instant Pot healthy?Cooking with an Instant Pot is not inherently any more or less healthy than other cooking methods. That said, if the ease and convenience of the Instant Pot recipes helps you make more homemade meals or dabble with cooking a wider variety of foods, then this appliance can be a boon for your diet.These 45 easy and healthy Instant Pot recipes will help you do just that—mix it up in the kitchen and churn out more homemade meals without spending oodles of time over the stove. They run the gamut from vegetarian to meaty, side dish to main course, classic to unconventional, and breakfast to dinner. You’ll also find Instant Pot recipes for beginners. Add a few to your rotation for some yummy, nutrient-rich, low-lift, and gratifying Instant Pot goodnessA note about the word healthy here: We know that healthy is a complicated concept. Not only can it mean different things to different people, but it’s a word that’s pretty loaded (and sometimes fraught), thanks to the diet industry’s influence on the way we think about food. At SELF, when we talk about food being healthy, sure, we’re talking about foods that are nutritious, filling, and satisfying. But we’re also talking about foods that help you connect with your culture, promote joy, and simply taste delicious. Some of those foods might fall into conventional ideas of what “healthy” is. And some might not. We selected these recipes with all of that in mind while also trying to appeal to a wide variety of nutritional needs and taste buds.

45 Delicious Spinach Recipes for Getting Your Greens

45 Delicious Spinach Recipes for Getting Your Greens

Spinach is one of those ingredients that a lot of people like to keep on hand for its versatility. The sheer variety of spinach recipes out there prove that the tender and nutritious leafy green is among the culinary world’s greatest green chameleons. Though perhaps most famous for appearing fresh in salads, there are almost limitless ways to put the veggie to work. From simply sautéed with garlic to stewed into a zesty shakshuka, there is almost no way to go wrong cooking spinach.Spinach is also popular because it’s super nutritious, reasonably priced, and widely available year-round. That makes it a cost-effective, reliable source of nutrients. Spinach is packed with essential vitamins and minerals—including vitamins A, C, and K and minerals like folate, iron, magnesium, and potassium, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.The one potential drawback of fresh spinach is its relatively short shelf life. How short depends on a few factors, but having to toss out spinach that you waited too long to use happens to the best of us at some point. (Seriously, who isn’t familiar with the tragedy of discovering a bag of forgotten, swampy spinach in the back of their crisper drawer?) Read on for helpful information on how long spinach lasts, how to store it so it stays good as long as possible, how to use up an overabundance of fresh spinach, and what to do with it once it’s gone slimy—plus, ideas about how to cook spinach and the best spinach recipes.How long does spinach last in the fridge?In general, you’ll have a few days to use up fresh spinach, though it depends on how fresh the spinach was when you bought it, the best-by date on the package, and the storage conditions in your fridge.When buying spinach, make sure to grab a bag or bunch that looks fresh and is being kept cool at the store, and put it in your fridge (at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below) within two hours of purchase, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) instructs.Fresh bunches of spinach are best enjoyed within three to seven days, according to the United States Department of Agrciculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). The USDA recommends storing it lightly packed in a plastic or cellophane bag in the crisper section of the fridge. (Pro tip: Slip a paper towel or two into the bag to help absorb moisture and extend its freshness.) Then rinse under running water and pat dry right before using. Bags and cartons of pre-cut, pre-washed spinach should generally be consumed within three to five days for peak freshness and quality, per the FSIS.All that said, keep in mind that you don’t necessarily need to toss fresh spinach past its best-by date. While it may not be at its literal best, it should still be OK to eat for a few days more as long as it has been stored properly and still smells and looks good, according to the USDA. Bags of fresh-cut leafy greens, for instance, often have a shelf life of around 12 to 16 days from the time they’re packed at the plant or store until they expire, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Just be sure to smell and visually inspect the leaves for any signs of spoilage first—more on that below.What can I do with slimy spinach?Sadly, there’s only one thing to do with slimy spinach: Toss it. It might seem like a waste, but by the time spinach is becoming slimy it’s too late.Spinach that looks a little bit limp or wilty is OK. But an icky or off smell, taste, or texture—anything in the vicinity of slimy, mushy, or funky smelling—indicates that a food is starting to decompose and spoil, the USDA explains. That’s why you should always throw away all produce that appears rotten, per the FDA.What can I do with too much fresh spinach?If you have more fresh spinach than you know what to do with before it goes bad—or your spinach is still good but past its prime—fear not. Cooking this leafy green will immediately collapse it down into a more manageable volume, allowing you to enjoy it without it going to waste.A great place to start is with one of the awesome dishes featured in this collection of delicious and creative spinach recipes. But if you don’t have the time or ingredients on hand to make a whole meal featuring spinach, you can just steam or sauté it all on the stovetop. Then you’ll have a healthy batch of cooked greens in the fridge that you can enjoy as a side dish throughout the week.What food goes with spinach?A better question is what food doesn’t go with spinach. Unlike pungent kale or bitter arugula, spinach has a very mild flavor—a little earthy, just a tad sweet—that pairs well with most other ingredients.As you’ll find in these spinach recipes, the green is a great addition to nearly any savory meal, which makes it one of the best options for packing in extra veggies. It’s great for tossing right in the mix—taking on surrounding flavors while adding some pretty color, bulk, and nutrients to whatever you’re making. Think grain bowls, pastas, casseroles, soups, stews, sandwiches, frittatas, noodle dishes, and more—and even baked goods. Spinach also works as a quick, simple veggie side—sautéed with a little olive, garlic, and lemon perhaps—alongside a roasted chicken breast, nice steak, or seared fish filet, for instance.These 45 spinach recipes showcase the best of your options, from classics (like creamed spinach and sautéed spinach), to sweet treats (like pancakes and muffins), to fresh spinach recipes (like salads and smoothies.) If you thought the veggie was simple and ordinary, these ideas will definitely give you a fresh perspective.

25 Strawberry Desserts to Help You Ring in Spring

25 Strawberry Desserts to Help You Ring in Spring

Much like spring, strawberry season is short and sweet. From the first warm day on, you have a limited amount of time to make as many strawberry desserts as possible while the fruit is at its flavor peak—which is during June in most of North America, according to Epicurious. Though it can be hard to resist the urge to devour an entire carton on your way home from the farmers market, so much potential lies ahead if you’re willing to wait (or splurge for two cartons—one for now, one for later).While this ruby red berry is definitely a treat on its own, it can be truly phenomenal with the right recipe. Whether you’re looking for a baking project to test your skills or a speedy dessert that you can enjoy in mere minutes, there’s almost always a way that strawberries can be of service. Need to satisfy a sweet tooth stat? Blend up a simple strawberry smoothie recipe. Want to spring-ify an old favorite? Try strawberry banana bread. Or, go all out and use strawberries to fill and decorate a decked-out cake for spring. As for how to properly wash this fruit before getting started, that part is easy. Avoid soaking strawberries in water for an extended period of time because they’re highly porous and will act like a sponge, as SELF previously reported. And don’t remove the stems before washing, as doing so creates another opening where water can enter—you’ll end up with mushy, waterlogged berries. Just wait until you’re ready to get baking, then simply place the berries in a colander and run under a faucet until all visible dirt is gone, and gently pat dry. Next step? Whip up one of these 25 easy strawberry recipes. These fresh ideas will help you figure out what to do with strawberries galore while they’re in season—and churn out some of the most beautiful and delicious springtime treats you’ve ever seen or tasted. 

60 Chicken Breast Recipes Packed with Protein and Flavor

60 Chicken Breast Recipes Packed with Protein and Flavor

Inventive chicken breast recipes are a home cook’s best friend. While chicken breasts are an excellent kitchen staple—relatively inexpensive, easy-to-cook, protein-rich, and versatile—the truth is they can also get real boring, real quick if you’re not careful. And the antidote to the chicken breast blahs, friends, is to skip the plain preparations and keep a whole bunch of exciting chicken dinner ideas at the ready.Though chicken breasts have a tendency to dry out quickly because of how little fat they contain, recipes that rely on tasty elements and some simple but key cooking tips can easily help remedy that issue. In fact, there are plenty of ingredients and techniques that will make your chicken breasts just as plump and juicy as any dark meat you’ve ever had.For one, many chefs and bloggers make this lean meat more tender (and flavorful) by relying on luscious, fat-filled ingredients like olive oil, butter, and cream. Other cooks swear by briefly marinating chicken breasts with salt, sugar, and/or acidic ingredients like vinegar or lemon juice to help break down the muscle fibers, as well as create a nice caramelized exterior. (Just keep your marinating time to less than a day to avoid over-tenderizing the meat and creating an icky texture, Bon Appétit explains—as little as 15 minutes may be enough.)Another top tip among moist chicken breast lovers? Using a thermometer to gauge the internal temperature of your meat. It’s the most foolproof way to ensure your chicken breasts are cooked to a safe internal temperature without crossing over into dried-out, over-baked chicken territory. (And much more reliable than frantically googling “How long to cook chicken in oven” and hoping for the best.) Your meat will be OK to eat—yet not overdone—when it reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit inside, per the U.S. Department of Agriculture.How long to bake chicken breast dishes depends on the exact recipe, of course—as well as the size of the breasts and the temperature of your oven. In general, both higher temperatures and smaller cuts produce faster results, while larger cuts and lower temps take more time. (And if you’re planning on cooking frozen chicken breasts, you also have to factor in the amount of time it will take to safely thaw chicken first.) Regardless, 165 degrees is your goal post.Now, about that recipe inspiration. We’ve parsed through the internet’s infinite poultry catalog to bring you 60 of the most delicious and easy chicken breast recipes, from spicy stir-fry recipes to stuffed chicken breasts. Many of them combine the meat with other yummy, nutrient-rich ingredients, like whole grains and vegetables. And the ones that keep focus on chicken can easily be paired with your favorite side dishes for a complete dinner. Chicken breast fatigue, no more!

60 Easter Dinner Ideas to Make the Holiday Extra Special

60 Easter Dinner Ideas to Make the Holiday Extra Special

Easter dinner ideas don’t typically get too wild. While the menu doesn’t tend to be quite as set in stone as Thanksgiving, most families definitely have a certain list of Easter must-haves that, if they don’t make it to the table, can result in some confusion…or even a minor uproar. So if your group is sticking with the usual ham or lamb plus Grandma Judy’s potato salad, your dad’s famous asparagus, and the carrot cake that’s been served since at least 1994, you’re probably all set.But! Perhaps you’re the one hosting Easter dinner this year, and have decided it’s time to try something (or a lot of things) new. Or maybe you’re attending a potluck Easter dinner and would like to surprise everyone with an impressive new recipe. Either way, you’ve come to the right place: This list has a wide variety of exciting and yummy Easter meal ideas. These recipes are packed with tasty seasonal ingredients and strike a nice balance between tradition and novelty—they’re decidedly Easter-inspired, but with a tasty twist. Before we get to the recipes, though, let’s talk about some of the foods that more traditional Easter dinners often feature.What is included in a traditional Easter dinner?Traditional Easter foods vary based on your culture and where you live. Many of the foods that customarily make it onto the table in a given region have symbolic ties to Christianity, feature seasonal ingredients, or are influenced by the cuisine of the region.On an Easter Sunday dinner table in the United States, for instance, you’ll commonly see ham or lamb at the center (more on why in a minute), a potato dish (like scalloped potatoes), an egg dish (like deviled eggs), some kind of roll or biscuit (like Hot Cross Buns), seasonal vegetables (like glazed carrots, spring peas, artichokes, or asparagus), and a dessert (like carrot cake).Why is ham an Easter tradition?As with many traditions, this one has practical roots—for a long time, serving ham on Easter dinner just made sense. Back in the days of yore, pigs were typically slaughtered in the fall and left to cure over the winter, so they’d be ready just in time for a big Easter feast, according to Martha Stewart. Over the years, it’s become a time-honored tradition.In a traditional Easter dinner, the only meat competing with ham for popularity is lamb, for both religious and practical reasons. Lamb has significance in Christianity—Jesus is called the “Lamb of God,” and lamb played an important symbolic role in early Passover celebrations, a tradition that Jews who converted to Christianity continued at Easter, History explains. Plus, lambs would’ve been one of the first available sources of fresh meat after a long winter.What do you eat on Easter Sunday?What you actually eat on Easter Sunday has to do with all these factors—holiday customs, where you live, your cultural heritage, your religious background, and, of course, any treasured Easter food traditions in your family, conventional or not.Many countries and cultures have their own special Easter recipes, for instance. A traditional Greek Easter dinner may include a whole roast lamb and/or Magiritsa, a Greek soup made from lamb offal, according to Delish. In Paraguay, Easter often involves chipa, a dense and chewy cheese bread, per Saveur. In the United Kingdom, you might enjoy a type of fruit cake called Simnel cake for Easter dinner dessert; in Mexico you can dig into capirotada (a bread pudding made with spices and sugar syrup); and in Italy, you may enjoy a slice of almond-topped Easter Dove Bread (Colomba Pasquale) or wreath-shaped Italian Easter bread, according to Delish.Regional, religious, and family traditions aside, what you make for Easter dinner also depends on what dishes actually feel festive and celebratory for you and your loved ones—and how much you want to mix things up this year (or not). Fish or chicken instead of ham? Why not! A fresh take on some classic sides? You got it! Pasta and quinoa? Oh yeah!Whether you’re looking for a fresh dish to jazz up the usual spread of favorites or revamp the whole thing top to bottom, there are a lot of inspired recipes that will help make your spring holiday feast feel extra special this year. And there’s always some room on the table to try some delicious new Easter recipes. Here are 60 Easter dinner menu ideas, from appetizers to desserts.

32 Surprising Cottage Cheese Recipes You’ll Love

32 Surprising Cottage Cheese Recipes You’ll Love

Cottage cheese sometimes gets a bad rap, but the creamy, curdy ingredient is an utter delight in so many fantastic cottage cheese recipes. Though frequently served cold and paired with fruit for breakfast or a snack, this dairy product is surprisingly great for cooking and baking too. In fact, cottage cheese can be just as versatile an ingredient as yogurt or cream cheese for the home chef. And you don’t necessarily need to be a fan of stuff in its original form, either. Even if its unique texture isn’t typically your favorite to enjoy on its own, you’ll find that the right preparation can transform cottage cheese into something that you not only like, but love. Cottage cheese lends a tangy flavor, tons of moisture, tender texture, and lots of protein to recipes. (A one-cup serving has about 25 grams of protein, according to the USDA.) Some recipes leave the curds intact for that signature texture, while others transform it into something smooth with a food processor or blender. You can stir it into pancakes for an extra-fluffy stack, whisk it with vinegar and oil to make a creamy vinaigrette, or use it to create the perfect, photogenic cheese pull for your next decked-out lasagna. And whenever you’re looking for a meatless way to boost a meal with protein, this curdy, calcium-rich goodness is ready to help. By the way, lactose-intolerant individuals should know that cottage cheese is not the most low-lactose cheese (though it varies by brand and the production process, along with your individual sensitivity). Fortunately, there are some lactose-free cottage cheeses available. And if you prefer or need to avoid dairy altogether, there are even plant-based varieties of cottage cheese on the market now too. (You just might need to do a little experimenting to make sure the stuff has the same effect as the original when cooked or baked.) Ready to get cooking with your new favorite unexpected ingredient? From cottage cheese breakfast recipes like pancakes and scrambled eggs, to all your lunches, dinners, and snacks in between, this list of 32 recipes with cottage cheese has something that even skeptics will love. 

50 Healthy Lunch Ideas to Spice Up Your Lunch Hour

50 Healthy Lunch Ideas to Spice Up Your Lunch Hour

Finding tasty, healthy lunch ideas that you actually have the time to make can sometimes feel easier said than done. Whether you work from home or in an office, finding a moment to whip up anything beyond a PB&J may feel like a miracle when you’re juggling what feels like one million different tasks at once. The truth is, there are so many homemade lunch ideas and healthy lunch recipes that will satisfy both your cravings and appetite without torpedoing your busy workday. Yes, they do take a little more work and planning than a ham-and-cheese or can of soup, but not necessarily a ton of active cooking time. You can often get away with just a few minutes of work to fix yourself a good, healthy lunch—it just requires thinking ahead, picking up a few clutch items on your regular grocery shopping trip, taking some clever shortcuts, or doing some healthy meal prep. (Think: cooking rice ahead of time for an instantaneous grain bowl, swapping homemade salsa for store-bought in a zesty taco meal, or baking sheet-pan batches of veggies on Sunday to use in your salads and sandwiches.) And, of course, it’s also helpful to choose a healthy lunch recipe that is actually realistic and exciting for you to make.  While there are a few factors surrounding what makes a lunch meal healthy for you as an individual—more on that below—the first is making sure your meal will be satisfying and balanced. Generally speaking, a filling meal usually has three or four food different groups (fat, protein, starch, and fruits/vegetables), SELF columnist Jessica Jones, M.S., R.D., certified diabetes educator and cofounder of Food Heaven, tells SELF. That way, you get a balanced variety of textures and flavors to please your palate, along with different nutrients to provide you with a steady stream of energy, Jones says.Another thing that’s always helpful to have in mind with bringing easy, healthy lunch ideas to life is that you shouldn’t fear making substitutions or tweaking recipes to suit you—including your taste preferences, budget, time constraints, dietary needs, and access to certain ingredients. “I think of recipes as a guide or inspiration,” Cara Harbstreet, M.S., R.D., L.D., of Street Smart Nutrition, tells SELF. “There are many ways to adjust recipes that still preserve the essence of the dish.” For instance, you might switch out quinoa for wild rice, turn the components of a salad into a sandwich, or choose a different variety of veggie that’s in season where you live. With those basics in mind, if you’re looking for some inspiration to help you figure out what will hit the spot midday, check out these 50 easy lunch recipes for same new and delicious healthy lunch ideas.A note about the word healthy here: We know that healthy is a complicated concept. Not only can it mean different things to different people, but it’s a word that’s pretty loaded (and sometimes fraught), thanks to the diet industry’s influence on the way we think about food. At SELF, when we talk about food being healthy, sure, we’re talking about foods that are nutritious, filling, and satisfying. But we’re also talking about foods that help you connect with your culture, promote joy, and simply taste delicious. Some of those foods might fall into conventional ideas of what “healthy” is. And some might not. We selected these recipes with all of that in mind while also trying to appeal to a wide variety of nutritional needs and taste buds.

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