Bottoms Up: Grilled Strawberry-Mint Bellinis

Grilled Strawberry Bellini Recipe | Easy Summer Champagne Cocktails

I got back from California last night and woke up today totally beat beyond belief. Maybe the numerous vineyard visits in Napa and Sonoma and the vacation diet of multiple orders of Sardine Chips at Rich Table finally caught up with me. But the last thing I would ever want to ingest right now is this grilled strawberry bellini recipe.

Strawberries Grilled Strawberry Bellini Recipe | Easy Summer Champagne Cocktails Grilled Strawberry Bellini Recipe | Easy Summer Champagne Cocktails

My return to clean eating aside, I developed this cocktail earlier in the summer for a grilling show I shot for Healthination. They were looking for easy cocktails that somehow involved the grill, and there’s nothing easier than throwing some fruit on the barbi, pouring Prosecco over it, and calling it a bellini.

I decided to hold off on sharing this drink with you until strawberry season was in full effect. If the ones at your farmer’s market are as luscious and cute as mine, you’ll need to string a few more on those skewers to fill your champagne flute, and then perhaps grill a few more skewers than the recipe calls for in the name of casual nibbling.

Grilled Strawberry Bellini Recipe | Easy Summer Champagne Cocktails Grilled Strawberry Bellini Recipe | Easy Summer Champagne Cocktails

I don’t do girly too often on this blog. But the numerous baby showers and bridal lunches I’ve attended this summer had me feeling pretty femme. And as a result, I created a drink that literally bleeds pink. When the strawberries come off the grill, they’re juicier than ever, which creates a beautiful rose color in the glass without the bubbly being overly fruitified – something you know I would never stand for. Continue reading

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Meatless Monday: Turkish Eggplant Casserole with Tomatoes (Imam Bayildi)

Healthy Turkish Eggplant Casserole Recipe with Tomatoes (Imam Bayildi)

Fat’s gotten a bad rap for a long time in the wellness world. It’s not hard to understand why, given that its own name has become synonymous with muffin tops and cankles. But having been raised on olive oil fried eggs and the philosophy that an avocado a day keeps the doctor away, I’m glad that people are finally putting down the fat-free SnackWells cookies and starting to reevaluate their healthy choices according to a different barometer.

Despite this progress, I still get criticized all the time for slapping the word “healthy” on my recipes alongside a few tablespoons of butter. And I still have to tinker with the amount of oil I use when developing recipes for fitness magazines like SELF, who live and die by the fat grams reported on their nutrition calculators. Since I believe in real, unprocessed food, even if it contains pure fat, it’s hard for me to not feel like a hypocrite when I turn in a recipe for cheesecake with low fat sour cream and fat-free cream cheese, and just one measly tablespoon (if I’m lucky) of butter in the gluten-free crust. But mama can’t afford for her own olive oil budget without these jobs, and sometimes you have to just bite your fat-forward tongue in order to please a client.

Healthy Turkish Eggplant Casserole Recipe with Tomatoes (Imam Bayildi) Healthy Turkish Eggplant Casserole Recipe with Tomatoes (Imam Bayildi) Healthy Turkish Eggplant Casserole Recipe with Tomatoes (Imam Bayildi)

If you haven’t noticed by now, or gotten the picture from the above, I view fat as an essential nutrient, and I actively add it to my diet in healthy amounts and diverse forms. Like any food, too much of a good thing is, well, bad. (Pardon the technical jargon). So I do try to switch up my oils from day to day, usually between olive, coconut, sunflower, flax seed, and canola.

But olive oil will always have my heart. Growing up, my mother had at least 5 large bottles of it on hand, and I would watch her blow through them in a matter of weeks. There’s a story in my cookbook about the way she would spoon-feed herself frozen peas in a bath of olive oil so deep, from far away, you’d think she was eating a soup. Despite these questionable habits, my mother remains to this day, the most health-conscious woman I know. And she’s always ten years ahead of the trend, if her pre-millennial love of millet is any indication.

If there’s one trend today that her life-long love of olive oil fits under it’s the newly coined “Mediterranean Diet”—otherwise known throughout eternity as the way Greek people eat. When I explore new cuisines, I love generically asking at restaurants for a side of “sauce” to see what they bring. In Greece, when I did this, what I got was a sauceboat of pure olive oil. And I was more than fine with that outcome.

Healthy Turkish Eggplant Casserole Recipe with Tomatoes (Imam Bayildi) Healthy Turkish Eggplant Casserole Recipe with Tomatoes (Imam Bayildi)

I make no apologies for the not-so restrained amounts of olive oil I add to all my recipes. And despite my justifications above, I certainly make no apologies for adding it in even looser volumes to the recipes I’m attempting to recreate from my Greek travels. I’m just adhering to the trends, people. Continue reading

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On the Job: Grilled Corn on the Cob with Honey Basil Butter

Grilled Corn on the Cob Recipe with Honey Basil Butter | Super Easy Grilled in the Husk

There are so many conflicting opinions these days in the world of wellness sometimes it feels like the only thing anyone can agree on is that blueberries are amazing (so long as they’re organic and not flown in from Chile). The conversation shifts focus from time to time, and now more than ever, I’m starting to hear that the villain of the moment is everyone’s favorite summertime clam bake accoutrement and floss-necessitator: corn.

So is corn really the new gluten? Let’s discuss.

My doctor tried to turn me off of corn a long time ago, giving me a lecture about how even the organic corn silos are infested with mold. I have yet to do research on this one fun fact. But I do know that the ancient practice of treating dried maize with lime evolved for a reason, and that’s what differentiates the masa harina used south of the border with the corn flour that’s been popularized here. The more common and compelling reason to steer clear of corn though is that it’s one of the most genetically modified foods in the American diet.

Grilled Corn on the Cob Recipe with Honey Basil Butter | Super Easy Grilled in the Husk Grilled Corn on the Cob Recipe with Honey Basil Butter | Super Easy Grilled in the Husk Grilled Corn on the Cob Recipe with Honey Basil Butter | Super Easy Grilled in the Husk

GMO’s remain a controversial topic, even among staunch supporters of the slow food and sustainability movement. I’ve tried to avoid them whenever possible ever since that same doctor handed me a print out of a study conducted in Europe that included a cover photo of mice with tumors all over their bodies. Some things you can’t un-see, no matter how many expletives you say to your doctor.

Regardless of where you fall on the issue, we can agree that corn has the GMO strike against it. Then there’s the possibility of this mold business. And now there’s a third strike about corn’s general impact on digestion that really puts it up to bat against all those crops upon crops of wheat haters.

This third argument doesn’t necessarily affect everyone (unlike the GMO’s)—it’s mainly food for thought for those who steer clear of wheat and follow an anti-inflammatory diet. According to Dr. Amy Meyers, whose articles on autoimmune disease have really caught my attention recently, many people’s bodies mistake the protein in corn for gluten, which causes a cross-reaction. And for highly sensitive people, all those corn fillers in gluten-free products might be equally no bueno.

So where do I net out on all this?

As you know, I’d rather put my body through the ringer than have my head be dominated by the stress that comes with living in constant fear. I try to avoid GMO’s across the board, so if I’m buying corn products, they’ll always be organic. By creating that small boundary around GMO’s at the grocery store, I end up eating less corn across the board, which I’m sure benefits my digestion and bodily inflammation. But do I turn away a bowl of Tostidos scoops at a party? Hell no. Every now and then I cave to a hint of lime that did not originate anywhere near a piece of citrus. More importantly, I don’t deprive myself of one of my great loves in this world: fresh corn.

Grilled Corn on the Cob Recipe with Honey Basil Butter | Super Easy Grilled in the Husk Grilled Corn on the Cob Recipe with Honey Basil Butter | Super Easy Grilled in the Husk

After ripping on it for the last few paragraphs, it’s worth noting for your cost-benefit analysis, that fresh corn on the cob is one of the most pesticide friendly fruits and vegetables around, thanks to it’s sturdy husk which protects the edible end product from all the spraying that occurs during the growing process. So if chemicals are something you avoid more so than GMO’s (although lez be honest, you’re probably super neurotic and avoid both), then fresh corn on the cob is a better bet than that handful of spinach or pint of cherry tomatoes you thought you were so healthy for buying.

Okay, dismounting my soap box. Continue reading

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A Hungry Girl’s Guide to Hydra, Greece

The Perfect Greek Island Vacation: Hydra, Greece | My Guide to the Best Hotels and Restaurants

I feel comfortable admitting now that I spent the majority of my time in Spetses wishing there was someone else with me on the trip. Someone, say, who’s used to me opening bags of potato chips at restaurants to use in place of bread for dipping in tzatsiki, and someone who would agree that the Greek table wine tastes better when chased with a mouth full of olives.

I’ve traveled to about a half dozen countries by myself (including here and here), and learned that some are better than others to do solo. Greece is a particularly sad place to eat alone, as all the meze come separately and are meant for sharing. But I’ve also learned over the years that you have to be in the right mindset for solo travel. It can be great when you’re single and feeling confident and self-indulgent and you want to try and compare every shrimp skewer in a 10-block radius, or go night swimming with a pair of male Dutch field hockey players, just to cross it off your bucket list. But if you’re in a lonely depressive mood, solo traveling can make your mind a more inhospitable place to be than a 5 Euro youth hostel in Latvia.

The Perfect Greek Island Vacation: Hydra, Greece | My Guide to the Best Hotels and Restaurants The Perfect Greek Island Vacation: Hydra, Greece | My Guide to the Best Hotels and Restaurants The Perfect Greek Island Vacation: Hydra, Greece | My Guide to the Best Hotels and Restaurants The Perfect Greek Island Vacation: Hydra, Greece | My Guide to the Best Hotels and Restaurants

My time in Spetses was not this type of dire circumstance. But still, in a place as romantic as Greece, you’ll find yourself missing your partner in crime more than usual. So after my Alive Tribe retreat was all said and done, I was particularly excited to meet up with my favorite dinner date in Hydra and to commit some crimes on a plate or two of whole grilled fish.

It was my first real trip with Charlie and I think we chose the perfect island, in the perfect part of the world to have a safe, conflict-free adventure. Part of the beauty of Hydra, both physically and emotionally, is that there are no wheeled vehicles on the island. This means that the majority of your adventures must be had by foot, and that most of said adventures are in close proximity to the main harbor.

The Perfect Greek Island Vacation: Hydra, Greece | My Guide to the Best Hotels and Restaurants The Perfect Greek Island Vacation: Hydra, Greece | My Guide to the Best Hotels and Restaurants dakis guilty + donkey We spent our days walking the shoreline from beach to beach and exploring the small one-horse fishing towns along the way. At night we scoped out the town for the best traditional tavernas and the tastiest tourist traps right on the water. The process of scoping can easily go horribly awry. So I was relieved that we didn’t fall victim to one of those catastrophically typical and stupid travelers fights that couples get into when they’re hungry and can’t find a good restaurant on the cartoon hotel map.

Our restaurant wandering did at one point take a turn for the creepy when we spotted the infamous Jeff Koons yacht, “Guilty,” and decided to casually stalk its owner, Dakis Joannou, to see where he was eating dinner. Unfortunately, we didn’t end up making it to his pick at a later, less blatant hour. But I’ve included the recommendation below, along with all our other picks for where to eat, sleep, and beach, should you not have access to a neon purple and yellow floating mansion and have to travel by donkey like the rest of us.

The Perfect Greek Island Vacation: Hydra, Greece | My Guide to the Best Hotels and Restaurants The Perfect Greek Island Vacation: Hydra, Greece | My Guide to the Best Hotels and Restaurants

Getting There and Around

Hydra is one stop closer to Athens on the same ferry line as Spetses. By hydrofoil (hellenicseaways.gr), it’s only 1 1/2 hours from Pireaus, though I found that every ferry in Greece took 30 minutes more than the ticket estimated, so plan accordingly. “Greek Time” is definitely a thing.

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Feeding Friends: Green Goddess Avocado Dip

Green Goddess Avocado Dip Recipe with Crudites | Healthy, Dairy-Free

After our epic July 4th in Rhode Island, in addition to a rosacea flair up on my forehead from too much rosé, I came home with lots of leftovers. There was the readily edible sort like Charlie’s pull and eat shrimp and my flank steak. But then there was the annoying sort, like random half bunches of herbs, a quarter head of cabbage, and enough limes for 500 coronas.

A side effect of a full weekend of host duty and the subsequent following week of full body exhaustion is that the last thing you want to do is cook. But by Wednesday, as the contents of my crisper drawer began shrinking, despite my not having removed anything from there since I got back, my hate of wastefulness trumped my love of sometimes being lazy.

Green Goddess Avocado Dip Recipe with Crudites | Healthy, Dairy-Free Green Goddess Avocado Dip Recipe with Crudites | Healthy, Dairy-Free Green Goddess Avocado Dip Recipe with Crudites | Healthy, Dairy-Free
So I put on my creative cook’s thinking cap (which in my imagination looks more like the  Hogwarts sorting hat than an actual chef’s toque), and began coming up with ways I could salvage some of the ingredients without actually putting in much effort. One of concoctions that resulted was this easy avocado dip recipe.

My favorite salad dressing in my cookbook was a green goddess vinaigrette made with half an avocado. Since I had a few of those lying around too and they were a little too browned and bruised from the car ride to be an optimal toast topping, I decided to turn my favorite dressing into a dip and load it up with even more avocado than usual and all those random bunches of herbs that were lying around. Continue reading

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On the Job: Grilled Buffalo Chicken Quesadillas

Easy Grilled Buffalo Chicken Quesadillas with Yogurt Sauce | Gluten-Free, Healthy Recipe

I’ve had a long tortured history with these buffalo chicken quesadillas. It’s not their fault. But like the tastiest of food lovers, they’ve caused me to experience some high highs and low lows.

My affair with healthy buffalo chicken themed sandwiches began around this time last year during a downpour of recipe development for Food & Wine. I used the hot sauce spiked chicken salad as part of a wrap, with carrots, celery, red onion and romaine as the additional filling. Instead of sour cream and buttermilk, I used Greek yogurt for the blue cheese dressing. It was a beautiful thing in conception. But the only catch was I couldn’t eat it.

Grilled Chicken Easy Grilled Buffalo Chicken Quesadillas | Gluten-Free, Healthy Recipe Easy Grilled Buffalo Chicken Quesadillas | Gluten-Free, Healthy Recipe Easy Grilled Buffalo Chicken Quesadillas with Yogurt Sauce | Gluten-Free, Healthy Recipe Easy Grilled Buffalo Chicken Quesadillas with Yogurt Sauce | Gluten-Free, Healthy Recipe

Sadly, I still haven’t found a gluten-free wrap that I love. (If anyone has suggestions, please let me know in the comments!!). And for the sake of the picture, I didn’t want to use something that looked as dry and stiff as cardboard. So I wrapped up the premade sandwiches and took them with me to my friend Kate’s share house in the Hamptons, and they were subsequently consumed somewhere along 495 in bumper to bumper traffic by some very grateful boys.

I didn’t mind missing out too much, since at the time I had so many dishes in the works that my fridge was an overflowing refuge camp for leftovers. But I did want to eventually try the combination. After all, buffalo chicken wings are another dish I can’t eat now that I’m gluten-free, and that’s been hard enough.

Easy Grilled Buffalo Chicken Quesadillas with Yogurt Sauce | Gluten-Free, Healthy Recipe Easy Grilled Buffalo Chicken Quesadillas with Yogurt Sauce | Gluten-Free, Healthy Recipe Easy Grilled Buffalo Chicken Quesadillas with Yogurt Sauce | Gluten-Free, Healthy Recipe

So now that a year’s passed and I’m through dilly dallying with other chicks (in sandwich form), I decided to revisit my healthy buffalo chicken in the more hospitable vehicle of a corn tortilla. It’s a pretty hot ride, but sometimes if they’re too dry, corn tortillas can break when folded in half as a quesadilla. I picked up the most pliable ones I could find at Whole Foods by the brand Maria and Ricardo’s. I couldn’t believe how well they worked—almost too good to be true.

Spoiler alert: they were.

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