Tips For Making Nutritious, Delicious Meals

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Getting healthy is a common New Year’s resolution. Join us as we consider the food side of improving our wellbeing in a conversation with Jack Bishop of America’s Test Kitchen! We explore the need to focus on what’s put into meals, get strategies on how to eat healthier, and learn how to build a more nutritious recipe.

Featured in this Show

  • How Small Changes Can Make Healthy Cooking Easier

    As a new year rolls in, so do the resolutions and goals to improve well-being. To stay on track, it’s all about developing good habits, not deprivation, according to Jack Bishop, chief creative officer of America’s Test Kitchen.

    “It’s a flawed concept,” Bishop said. “People think a healthy diet is all about eliminating the foods you like. It’s boring and it’s hard.”

    Instead, consider what you typically cook with and how you can substitute certain ingredients with healthier options. Think toasted nuts as a garnish in place of cheese. And, have fun with it, Bishop said.

    “Let’s keep the foods we love, but make them more nutritious,” he said. “Worry less about calories and fat, and create vibrant, beautiful food that is good for you and, of course, tastes great.”

    Don’t be discouraged by starting small, Bishop said. Modest changes are going to be much more sustainable than dramatic ones.

    Finally, Bishop said to “remember that you’re eating with all of your senses. Make food that’s texturally and visually stimulating, as well as food that tastes good.”

    In three recipes from America’s Test Kitchen’s new cookbook “Nutritious Delicious: Turbocharge Your Favorite Recipes with 50 Everyday Superfoods,” Bishop shows how to accomplish this at home with tips that can be carried over to your favorite recipes.

    Super Cobb Salad

    A classic and hearty salad, it already contains some healthy ingredients, but Bishop sees room for improvement, mainly in the bacon. When replacing an ingredient, think about the role that ingredient provides to the dish, Bishop said. With bacon, it provides a smoky and meaty flavor, but so do shiitake mushrooms when they’ve been sauteed in smoked paprika and chili powder.

    Swiss Chard Macaroni and Cheese

    This riff on one of the most beloved of comfort foods is greater than the sum of its parts. To achieve a flavorful, creamy mac and cheese that is not so laden with fat, it’s about balance. By using a more potent cheese like gruyere, you can still get good flavor while using a smaller amount of cheese, according to Bishop. And, mixing low-fat milk and cream cheese — which is also low in fat — creates a velvety and creamy sauce that keeps the fat in check.

    Chocolate Avocado Pudding

    You are going to have to use sugar when baking, Bishop said, but you do have some control by also incorporating nutritional ingredients like dark chocolate or goji berries for additional sweetness. In this recipe, avocados are substituted for cream and eggs to make for a dairy-free and heart-healthy dessert. The key is blending the avocados in a food processor for two minutes to produce a light and silky-smooth consistency.

  • [RECIPE] Super Cobb Salad

    Why This Recipe Works

    Stunning presentation aside, Cobb salad has all the markers of a powerhouse meal, including eggs, avocados, tomato, and lean chicken—we just had to do something about all that bacon and cheese. We were sad to sacrifice bacon’s smoky flavor until we tried sautéing shiitake mushrooms with smoked paprika and chili powder. Now we had smokiness and even some umami meatiness without the saturated fat and preservatives. Using kale in place of romaine upped the nutritional ante, and radicchio contributed beautiful color. For the dressing, just a bit of blue cheese whisked with yogurt, garlic, and lemon juice provided the tangy blue cheese flavor we expected. We tossed some with our greens and drizzled the rest over our still-classic, yet mindfully updated, Cobb salad.

    Serves 6


    • 8 ounces organic boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of all visible fat and cut into ½-inch pieces
    • Salt and pepper
    • 2 teaspoons expeller-pressed canola oil (see page 35)
    • 10 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced thin
    • ⅛ teaspoon smoked paprika
    • ⅛ teaspoon chili powder
    • 8 ounces kale, stemmed and cut into 1-inch pieces (8 cups)
    • ⅓ cup finely chopped red onion
    • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
    • ¾ cup organic plain low-fat yogurt
    • 3 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
    • 1 garlic clove, minced
    • ½ small head radicchio (3 ounces), cored and cut into ½-inch pieces
    • 3 hard-cooked large organic eggs, quartered
    • 1 avocado, halved, pitted, and cut into ½-inch pieces
    • 6 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved

    Super Cobb Salad. Photo courtesy of America’s Test Kitchen


    1. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to plate and let cool.
    2. Heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil in now-empty skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add mushrooms and ¼ teaspoon salt, cover, and cook until mushrooms have released their liquid, 4 to 6 minutes. Uncover and increase heat to medium-high. Stir in paprika, chili powder, and ⅛ teaspoon pepper and cook until mushrooms are golden, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to second plate and let cool.
    3. Place kale in large bowl and cover with warm tap water (110 to 115 degrees). Swish kale around to remove grit. Let kale sit in warm water bath for 10 minutes. Remove kale from water and spin dry in salad spinner in multiple batches. Pat leaves dry with paper towels if still wet. Toss onion with 2 teaspoons lemon juice and set aside.
    4. Whisk yogurt, blue cheese, garlic, remaining 1 teaspoon lemon juice, and ¼ teaspoon salt together in bowl until well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

    5. Toss kale and radicchio with ½ cup dressing to coat. Transfer to serving platter and mound in even layer. Arrange cooled mushrooms, onion, eggs, avocado, and tomatoes in single, even rows over greens, leaving space at either end. Arrange half of chicken in each open space at ends of platter. Drizzle remaining dressing over salad. Serve.

    From Nutritious Delicious:Turbocharge Your Favorite Recipes with 50 Everyday Superfoods by America’s Test Kitchen. © Copyright 2017 by America’s Test Kitchen. Used by permission of America’s Test Kitchen. All rights reserved.

  • [RECIPE] Swiss Chard Macaroni and Cheese

    Why This Recipe Works

    It’s hard to eat healthy all the time, especially when a craving strikes for something comforting and a little decadent—such as macaroni and cheese. Unfortunately, most nutritious riffs on the cheesy classic are simply blander versions of the original. We vowed to create a macaroni and cheese we’d actually enjoy eating that also delivered good nutritional benefits. Switching from white pasta and panko bread crumbs to whole-wheat versions was a simple start that provided more fiber and protein. We toasted the panko to crisp it up before combining it with Parmesan to make a crunchy, savory topping. We also cooked a hearty 12 ounces of vitamin K-rich Swiss chard and stirred it in just before serving to bulk up the meal. As for our cheese sauce, simply switching to 1 percent low-fat milk led to a chalky sauce, but we found that stirring in a couple ounces of cream cheese turned it velvety and ultra-creamy. Our macaroni and cheese delivered more greens than pasta but tasted comforting and rich, and it was packed with plenty of nutrients. We love the nutty flavor of Gruyère in this recipe, but if you prefer a milder cheese sauce, you can substitute sharp cheddar.

    Serves 4


    • ¼ cup 100 percent whole-wheat panko bread crumbs
    • 2 tablespoons expeller-pressed canola oil
    • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
    • 12 ounces Swiss chard, stemmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
    • 8 ounces 100 percent whole-wheat elbow macaroni
    • Salt and pepper
    • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
    • ¾ teaspoon dry mustard
    • 2 cups organic 1 percent low-fat milk
    • 4 ounces Gruyère cheese, shredded (1 cup)
    • 2 ounces cream cheese, softened

    Swiss Chard Macaroni and Cheese. Photo courtesy of America’s Test Kitchen


    1. Stir panko, 1 teaspoon oil, and pinch cayenne together in 8-inch nonstick skillet until combined. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until fragrant and crisp, about 3 minutes. Off heat, transfer panko to bowl and stir in Parmesan.
    2. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add Swiss chard and cook until wilted, about 4 minutes; transfer to bowl. Bring 2 quarts water to boil in now-empty pot. Add macaroni and 1½ teaspoons salt and cook, stirring often, until tender; drain macaroni and wipe pot dry with paper towels.
    3. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in now-empty pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add flour, mustard, remaining pinch cayenne, and ¼ teaspoon salt and cook, whisking constantly, until fragrant and mixture darkens slightly, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk. Bring mixture to boil, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to medium and simmer vigorously, whisking occasionally, until thickened to consistency of heavy cream, about 6 minutes.
    4. Off heat, gradually whisk in Gruyère and cream cheese until completely melted and smooth. Stir in macaroni and wilted Swiss chard and cook over medium-low heat until warmed through, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with panko mixture. Serve.

    From Nutritious Delicious: Turbocharge Your Favorite Recipes with 50 Everyday Superfoods by America’s Test Kitchen. © Copyright 2017 by America’s Test Kitchen. Used by permission of America’s Test Kitchen. All rights reserved.

  • [RECIPE] Chocolate Avocado Pudding

    Why This Recipe Works

    Making a luscious chocolate pudding by substituting vitamin-rich, heart-healthy avocados for the cream and eggs has become something of a craze. But more often than not, these puddings are a far cry from the silky-smooth, ultra-chocolaty pudding we want, and yield a grainy texture and lackluster chocolate flavor that doesn’t conceal the vegetal notes. We knew we could do better without making the recipe too complicated. Rather than simply blending everything together, we started by creating a simple hot cocoa syrup in a saucepan (with a touch of espresso powder, vanilla, and salt to enhance the chocolate flavor). Meanwhile, we processed the flesh of two large avocados for a full two minutes until they were absolutely smooth. Next, with the food processor running, we carefully streamed in the cocoa syrup until the mixture was velvety and glossy. We finished by blending in a moderate amount of melted dark chocolate to give our pudding a wonderfully full chocolate flavor and additional richness. We prefer the flavor of 70 percent dark chocolate in this recipe, though higher cacao percentages will also work (see page 31).

    Serves 6


    • 1 cup water
    • ¾ cup (5¼ ounces) sugar
    • ¼ cup (¾ ounce) unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional)
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • 2 large ripe avocados (8 ounces each), halved and pitted
    • 3½ ounces 70 percent dark chocolate, chopped

    Chocolate Avocado Pudding. Photo courtesy of America’s Test Kitchen


    1. Combine water, sugar, cocoa, vanilla, espresso powder (if using), and salt in small saucepan. Bring to simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar and cocoa dissolve, about 2 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat and cover to keep warm.
    2. Scoop flesh of avocados into food processor bowl and process until smooth, about 2 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. With processor running, slowly add warm cocoa mixture in steady stream until completely incorporated and mixture is smooth and glossy, about 2 minutes.

    3. Microwave chocolate in bowl at 50 percent power, stirring occasionally, until melted, 2 to 4 minutes. Add to avocado mixture and process until well incorporated, about 1 minute. Transfer pudding to bowl, cover, and refrigerate until chilled and set, at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours. Serve.

    From Nutritious Delicious: Turbocharge Your Favorite Recipes with 50 Everyday Superfoods by America’s Test Kitchen. © Copyright 2017 by America’s Test Kitchen. Used by permission of America’s Test Kitchen. All rights reserved.

Episode Credits

  • Kate Archer Kent Host
  • Breann Schossow Producer
  • Kealey Bultena Producer
  • Jack Bishop Guest

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