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Many people delight in choosing and eating healthy foods. They pore over organic quinoa choices at the local co-op, eye up colorful bunches of fresh kale at the farmers' market, and whip up light meals that are perfect balances of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and lean proteins. More power to those people, really.
But for the rest of us-those of us who don't mind sneaking a biscotti every now and then and salivating over Danish pastries instead of Swiss chard-it's nice to know that there are other people out there who strive to eat healthy food as more of a challenge than a way of life. We know it's good for us, but it's not always easy to reach for the veggies when there are doughnut holes on the table and Twix in the vending machines.
Blogs that inspire and celebrate healthy eating offer something for everyone, whether you're in the gung-ho-health-food camp or the semi-reluctant camp. They have great information on cooking techniques and recipe suggestions, which even experienced chefs can enjoy, and the dishes they create are almost always beautiful and delicious, which inspires all of our tables. Check out these healthy-eating blogs for a few new ideas, recipes, tips, and tricks.
1. Bitten: Mark Bittman on Food
This New York Times food blog is a classic and has helped food writer Mark Bittman become a household name all across America. Bitten reports food news, recipes, and general food-related thoughts, all of which are interesting and insightful. His recipes have a classic flair that makes them timeless-almost all are made with whole, fresh ingredients, and they have simple yet elegant tastes. Some of Mark's thoughts may be a bit skewed (in this week's Minimalist column, for example, he includes canned sardines in a collection of staple pantry ingredients that he expects most home cooks would have on hand), but they're all worth reading.
2. 101 Cookbooks
Heidi Swanson is the culinary genius behind 101 Cookbooks, a blog in which she celebrates the intersections of cookbooks, cooking, traveling, and life. The beautiful photographs on her blog are what keeps me coming back to visit each week, but the recipes themselves are standouts as well. Heidi focuses on natural ingredients and vegetarian dishes that are "good for you and good for the planet," as she puts it.
Orangette has gorgeous photography, an easy-to-read layout, and a very smart lady running the show behind it: Molly Wizenberg, who has an appealing appreciation for good food and a true knack for writing. Her blog has even spawned a book, A Homemade Life. Molly's recipes are creative (roasted rhubarb, anyone?) and make use of fresh, pure ingredients and flavors. They're not all the healthiest of the healthy, but even the most sinful are probably better for you than those doughnut holes.
4. Simply Recipes
Simply Recipes is a family blog that's primarily operated by Elise Bauer. She or people she knows and trusts have personally tested each recipe that's published there, and because she has a big family, the recipes are perfectly suited for kids and for people on the go. Her food philosophy is to "believe in a varied, healthy diet, using real butter, real cream, eggs, lots of green vegetables, and protein from meat, fish, beans, and cheese."
Though not exclusively a healthy-eating site, AllRecipes has a slew of cooking tips and resources that make it simple for even the uber-busy and weak in willpower to improve their diets. With a public, searchable database that includes thousands of recipes, you can find out how to make nearly anything you want here, and the search-by-rating feature is helpful if you want to quickly filter in the best of the best. The "Healthy Cooking" tab at the top of the site offers specific recipes and suggestions for light cooking.
6. Cooking Light
Cooking Light is a magazine that does what some believe is unthinkable-it serves the dual purpose of focusing on healthy, natural ingredients while celebrating and admiring food of all kinds for its splendid taste and ability to please. Unlike many healthy-cooking resources, the magazine doesn't shy away from using butter, cream, cheese, or bacon; it just strives to include small amounts so that the flavors truly pop in a recipe. The Web site, which is completely open to non-subscribers, features recipes, cooking and entertainment tips, nutrition information, and ideas on how to live a healthier life.
7. Eating Well
Eating Well is a publication much like Cooking Light, with a mission to share great food and encourage good health. Their Web site is also open to non-subscribers and offers free e-mail newsletters, healthy recipes, information about seasonal ingredients, and health- and nutrition-related news. Additionally, the Eating Well blog posts bonus recipes and short articles while inviting reader feedback.
8. Wild Yeast
Want to bake more bread and put a cap on your addiction to preservative-filled grocery-store loaves? Wild Yeast can help. Its recipe index will give you dozens of step-by-steps for making sweet breads, rolls, whole-grain loaves, sourdoughs, and dishes that will use up leftover bread (watermelon gazpacho . . . mmmm). The site's sweeter recipes, such as cinnamon sticky buns and apricot fritters, won't do your waistline any favors, but even a healthy diet can fit in room for occasional splurges.
9. Not Eating Out in New York
Not Eating Out in New York is the product of a two-year experiment by blogger Cathy Erway to shun NYC's restaurants and takeout establishments in favor of exploring alternative food scenes and making her meals at home. Cathy focuses on simple, whole foods in her cooking and awards each of her recipes a Health Factor rating and a Green Factor rating to indicate how good they are for you and for the environment.
10. Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef
The Gluten-Free Girl is Shauna James Ahern, and she was terribly ill with celiac disease for most of her life until she began following a completely gluten-free diet. Now that she can enjoy food again, she and her husband ("The Chef") provide scrumptious, gluten-free recipes to the masses through this blog. Shauna and her husband are truly passionate about food and love regional delicacies, local items, and really high-quality ingredients.
11. Chews Wise
If food news and sustainability information is your cup of tea more so than recipes, you'll get a lot out of Chews Wise, Samuel Fromartz's blog. He's a journalist, artisan bread-baker, and advocate for sustainable and organic foods. His writing style is simple, straightforward, and easy to read, and it's refreshing to dig into a blog that addresses the academic and political side of food rather than just the taste.
12. The Ethicurean
Like Sam Fromartz, the Ethicurean focuses on news and information related to sustainable and organic foods. Bonnie Powell and her fellow blog founders have defined "ethicurean" as "someone who seeks out tasty things that are also sustainable, organic, local, and/or ethical-SOLE food, for short." All of the Ethicureans care deeply about food, and their blog chronicles the reasons why they're just as interested in where their food comes from as they are in how it tastes and whether it's the right thing to eat.
13. Mighty Foods
One of the Mighty Foods tag lines is "real foods aren't just for hippies anymore." The blog's contributors (who include Heidi Swanson, the woman behind 101 Cookbooks) tout the benefits of following a natural diet, gravitating toward organics and fair-trade products, and shying away from overly processed foods. The blog includes lots of lovely photographs and recipes as well as reviews of products and dishes and ideas for getting the most out of seasonal ingredients.
14. The Slow Cook
Ed Bruske is a former Washington Post reporter and an advocate of the slow-food movement, a believer in the idea that food should be enjoyed and grown naturally and sustainably. He has a garden near the White House and works as a personal chef for a wide variety of clients. His blog is about many things, including recipes and sustainability, but a primary point is in favor of a shift taking place in consumers that would value quality and fulfillment over convenience in food.
15. The Happy Cow
Interested in eating better when you travel-or when you dine out in your hometown? The Happy Cow is a "compassionate eating guide" that lists vegetarian and vegan restaurants and natural-foods stores in ranges from 1 to 25 miles from any zip code or location in the world. The site also publishes a bunch of vegetarian and vegan recipes and hosts forums where healthy-eating discussions take place.
16. Fat-Free Vegan Kitchen
Here's a double whammy-a blog full of vegan recipes that are short on fat and sugar. If that isn't enough for you, the recipes also minimize processed ingredients and look incredibly tasty. Susan V. started her blog after going vegan and losing more than 100 pounds in the process. Her site was voted a Readers' Favorite blog in 2007 and 2009 by readers of Veg News magazine.
17. Local Harvest
It's not a blog or a recipe directory, but Local Harvest is a truly valuable food resource that can help you find farmers' markets, healthy restaurants, co-ops or grocery stores, and CSAs in your area. The site encourages using local, seasonal ingredients whenever possible and even posts a calendar of local-food-related events all over the nation.