Happy new year! As the clouds of celebration clear, that pesky list of resolutions — the one that seemed like such a good idea yesterday — is now staring you in the face. According to LIVESTRONG.com, approximately 45 million Americans are dieting each year, spending upward of $33 billion to whittle their waistlines.
Google states that the most searched-for diet of 2013 was the paleo diet, also known as the caveman or Stone Age diet. With meals centered on commonly available modern foods, the paleo diet consists mainly of fish, meat from grass-fed, pasture-raised animals, eggs, vegetables, fruit, roots and nuts, and excludes grains, legumes, dairy products, potatoes, salt, refined sugar and processed oils. Whether or not scientists can confirm that our cavemen ancestors actually ate this diet is still an unanswered question, but that fact hasn’t slowed the diet’s popularity.
Also appearing on the trend list, the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet emphasizes polyunsaturated fats, fresh fruits and vegetables along with nuts, beans and seeds. The longevity-promoting plan is based on the traditional eating habits of Greek, Spanish, Italian and other Mediterranean cultures. With its emphasis on fruits and vegetables, olive oil, fish and other healthy fare, the Mediterranean diet is sensible and satisfying.
Still popular are the Atkins and South Beach diets, which rely on low carbs for heart health and weight reduction, and all variations of vegan, vegetarian and flexitarian diets make a showing. Another diet that is not just a plan for weight loss but also addresses a health concern is the gluten-free diet.
Gluten-free diets were originally designed for people with celiac disease and wheat intolerance, but devotees of this diet realized that the gluten-free lifestyle produces similar effects to a low-carb diet, reducing bloat and promoting comparatively quick weight loss.
Coincidentally, when the National Restaurant Association surveyed more than 1,300 chefs concerning their predictions of restaurant trends in 2014 and the changes that would be implemented in their own businesses in 2014, the top five were as follows:
Locally sourced meats and seafood;
Locally grown produce;
Nonwheat noodles and pasta (quinoa, rice, buckwheat); and
Ancient grains. What all of the trends and plans have in common is: more whole foods, less processing and more vegetables — just like Grandma told you! So if you are one of the many looking for a healthier way to eat in the new year, it should be easy to find a way to fill your plate, whether at home or at a restaurant. Simple ingredients and simple preparation techniques with herbs and seasonings add the rich flavor.
CHIPOTLE GRILLED PORK TENDERLOIN
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (4 to 6 juicy limes)
1 tablespoon adobo sauce from canned chipotle peppers (can be omitted if you don’t like spicy)
1 teaspoon dried cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large pork tenderloin, approximately 1.5 pounds
Preheat grill (or oven, if roasting, to 375 degrees)
Combine all marinade ingredients in a large resealable plastic bag and allow pork to marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Remove from the refrigerator, discard marinade, and allow meat to come to room temperature. On a hot grill, sear each side of the tenderloin for 1 minute, then move to “cool” side of the grill, and cook with indirect heat approximately 20 minutes or until meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers 140 degrees. Remove from grill, tent with foil, and allow meat to rest for 10 minutes. Slice diagonally.
Note: The tenderloin can be roasted in the oven at 375 degrees for approximately 20 to 25 minutes with the same temperature and resting recommendations above.
SOUTHERN SAUTEED CABBAGE
1 head of cabbage, roughly chopped
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
4 slices of bacon, cut into 1-inch strips
1/2 to 1 teaspoon seasoning salt (optional)
1 to 2 tablespoons apple-cider vinegar or jalapeno-pepper juice
1/4 cup diced onion
In a large nonstick skillet, add olive oil, bacon strips and onion on medium heat. Sauté for 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium low, add chopped cabbage, and sprinkle with seasoning salt, if using. Cover and periodically turn cabbage over with a flat or spooned spatula, cooking for 15 to 20 minutes until cabbage is tender. Dress with vinegar or pepper juice.
Adapted from the Barefoot Contessa
2 bunches broccoli
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts (optional)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Cut the broccoli florets away from the thick part of the main stalk, leaving 1 to 2 inches of the smaller, more tender stalk attached. Cut as necessary until all florets are approximately the same size to ensure even cooking. Make sure the broccoli is thoroughly dried.
Place the broccoli florets, garlic and olive oil in a large resealable plastic bag. Shake and “massage” until all the broccoli is covered with oil. Pour contents of bag on a large metal sheet pan — large enough to hold all the florets in a single layer. (Do not crowd the pan, or the vegetables will not roast. They will steam and become mushy.)
Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes until crisp-tender and some of the florets are browned on the edges.
Remove the broccoli from the oven and immediately dress with approximately 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, the lemon zest, lemon juice, pine nuts and Parmesan cheese. Serve hot.