Do you eat the same food for three to four days in a row or eat the same food at the same meal day after day? Perhaps you eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch every day. Or you always eat peanuts for a snack. Sound familiar?

It’s so easy to fall into an eating rut. Having the same breakfast, lunch, or dinner, day in and day out, offers convenience and comfort.  No need to think about what to eat or where to find it.There are no surprises when you pour yourself a bowl of the same cereal for breakfast day after day.

The foods people get hooked on are the usual — burger and fries, chips and soda and pepperoni pizza. Rarely do you hear of anyone stuck on broccoli for days or months.

That doesn’t mean that eating the same thing again and again has to be unhealthy. One person who made an eating rut work to his advantage was Jared Fogel of Subway fame. In less than a year, he says, he lost 235 pounds on a diet of coffee for breakfast; a 6-inch low-fat turkey sub with extra veggies, baked chips, and diet soda for lunch; and a 12-inch veggie sub for dinner.

You’re probably the best judge of whether you’re in an eating rut. However, just in case you are in a rut, here are some ideas for getting out of that rut:

  • Next time you go to the grocery store, venture out of the familiar aisles. Buy brown or wild rice instead of white, pita pockets instead of white bread, and pears instead of bananas.
  • Challenge yourself to try one new food each week.
  • Pick up a healthy dinner from a restaurant instead of having pizza delivered.
  • Have the sandwich you usually choose for lunch for breakfast instead.
  • Try slight alterations to your old standbys: accessorize your sandwich with spinach leaves instead of lettuce, stir sliced veggies into your scrambled eggs, choose a new type of cheese for your casserole.
  • Don’t say “Yuck” when friends want to try an ethnic restaurant that serves unfamiliar cuisine.
  • Visit a farmers market.
  • Take a cooking class.
  • Buy a new cookbook or get a subscription to a healthy cooking magazine.


Here are some new ways to prepare some classic foods:

Old Favorite

Linguine with Clam Sauce

6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup bottled clam juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 dozen littleneck clams
  • 8 cups hot cooked linguine (about 1 pound uncooked pasta)

Directions:

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic; cook 3 minutes or until golden, stirring frequently. Stir in clam juice and next 5 ingredients (clam juice through clams). Cover and cook 10 minutes or until clams open.

Place pasta in a large bowl. Add 2 tablespoons oil; toss well to coat. Add clam mixture to pasta; toss again.

New Twist

Spaghettini in Clam Broth with Cherry Tomatoes

4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 small leek, thinly sliced into rounds
  • Fine sea salt
  • 2 cans minced clams, undrained
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 6 oz. spaghettini or angel hair pasta or spaghetti
  • 1/2 pound cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and thinly sliced into rounds
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped green bell pepper 
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 sprig fresh oregano, chopped 


Directions:

Wash the sliced leek well in a bowl of cold water, agitating it, then lift out and pat dry. Set aside.

Combine the undrained clams, 1 1/2 tablespoons oil and wine in a small bowl.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta in the boiling water until al dente. Drain and set aside (do not rinse).

In a large skillet, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add leek, carrot and bell pepper; cook, stirring frequently, 5 minutes.

Add tomatoes, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook 30 seconds; add clam mixture; gently simmer until carrot is tender, about 5 minutes.

Then add cooked pasta and parsley; toss just to combine. Top with plenty of fresh cracked pepper. Remove from heat.

Old Favorite

Restaurant Style Baked Flounder With Crabmeat Stuffing

4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 small red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup light cream
  • 8 oz. crabmeat
  • 3 teaspoons chopped parsley
  • 4 flounder fillets
  • 3/4 cup white wine

Directions:

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat pan with nonstick cooking spray, add butter, then the onion and red pepper. Cook until softened, stirring occasionally about 4 minutes. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon of Old Bay, 1/8 teaspoon of the salt and the light cream.

Increase heat to medium high and bring to boil; cook for 1 minute or until thickened. Gently fold in crabmeat and 2 teaspoons of the parsley. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a 13×9 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Place one of the flounder fillets, skinned-side up on work surface, then spoon 1/2 cup crab mixture onto one end of fillet; roll up, creating a small bundle. Repeat using remaining fillets and crab.

Transfer bundles to baking dish, seam side down, and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon Old Bay, 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon parsley. Add wine to the pan; transfer to the oven. Bake for 20 minutes or until fish is solid white and flakes easily with a fork.


New Twist

Shrimp and Mango-Stuffed Fish Fillets

Ingredients:

4 flounder fillets

Stuffing

  • 1/2 cup finely processed crumbs, from Italian bread, crusts removed
  • 1 cup finely chopped shrimp (about 8 oz. shelled)
  • 1/2 cup finely diced mango
  • 2 tablespoons minced scallions
  • 1 tablespoon diced pimientos, drained
  • 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon minced chives

Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley
  • Dash paprika

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl combine all the stuffing ingredients. Spoon about 1/2 cup stuffing onto each fillet; roll up. Place seam side down in baking dish.

Combine the butter and lemon juice and drizzle over the fish rolls. Sprinkle with paprika and parsley.

Bake, uncovered, at 375° for 20-25 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Old Favorite

Classic Lasagna


Ingredients:

Sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 (28 oz.) container Pomi tomatoes
  • 1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

Filling:

  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup parmesan or romano cheese, grated
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Lasagna:

  • 1 pound mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
  • 16 lasagna noodles


Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 9x13x2 inch baking dish with olive oil cooking spray.

Make sauce:
Heat oil in large saucepan and add garlic, basil, tomatoes, tomato paste, seasonings, salt and pepper.  Simmer uncovered for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Make filling:
Beat eggs. Add ricotta and parmesan cheeses, salt and parsley.  Refrigerate until needed.

Cook pasta:
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt and cook lasagna noodles according to package directions. Drain.

To assemble:
Spread ½ cup sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Top with 3 noodles, 1/3 ricotta mixture, 1/3 mozzarella, and 1/4 of the sauce. Repeat 2 more times. Top the last 3 noodles with sauce and cover tightly with foil.  Bake 45 min. Let stand 15 minutes before cutting.


New Twist

Deconstructed Lasagna

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup ricotta
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 8 lasagna noodles
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 2 pints grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 zucchini (about 1 pound total), halved if large and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon torn fresh basil leaves, plus more for serving

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, combine ricotta, Parmesan, and the 2 teaspoons oil; season with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook noodles according to package instructions; drain and separate on kitchen towels. Cut each noodle in half.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Add garlic and tomatoes; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until slightly broken down, about 3 minutes. Transfer tomatoes to a bowl.
  4. Add zucchini to the skillet; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until zucchini are tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to another bowl and stir in basil.
  5. Place some tomatoes in each of four pasta bowls; top with a noodle and a spoonful of ricotta, some zucchini, and more tomatoes. Repeat layering twice, then top with remaining noodles and tomatoes. Garnish with basil.

Old Favorite

BBQ Sirloin Steak

6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
  • 2 tablespoons orange marmalade
  • Dash  ground cinnamon
  • 1 boneless beef sirloin steak (1-1/2 lb.), 1-1/2 to 2 inches thick

Directions:

Heat grill to medium-high heat.
Mix barbecue sauce, marmalade and cinnamon.
Grill steak 8 to 10 min. on each side or until medium rare to medium (125 to 130 degrees), brushing with barbecue sauce mixture after turning steak. Let rest 5 minutes before slicing.

New Twist

Baked Steak

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced on a diagonal
  • 1 lemon, very thinly sliced
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 1 -2 pound, 2 inch thick sirloin steak
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1⁄4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1⁄4 cup Worcestershire sauce

Directions:

Heat oven to 400°F.

In a roasting pan, combine the mushrooms, celery, lemon slices, onion, oil, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper.
Season the steak with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper, rub in the garlic and place steak on top of the vegetables.
In a small bowl, whisk together the ketchup, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce.
Spoon the ketchup mixture over the top of the steak and roast 30 to 35 minutes for medium-rare (when a meat thermometer registers 125°F). Transfer the meat to a cutting board and let rest at least 5 minutes before slicing. Serve the steak with the vegetables.


Old Favorite

Fried Green Tomatoes with Remoulade Sauce

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 or 4 large firm green tomatoes
  • Salt
  • 2 cups vegetable or peanut oil, for deep-frying
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Slice the tomatoes 1/4-inch thick. Lay them out in a shallow baking pan and sprinkle with salt. Place the tomato slices in a colander and allow time for the salt to pull the water out of the tomatoes, approximately 30 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

Add pepper to the self-rising flour in a shallow bowl.  Pour buttermilk into another shallow bowl.

In a large skillet for deep-frying, heat the oil over medium-high heat.

Dip the tomatoes into buttermilk, then dredge them into flour. Deep-fry until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve with the Remoulade Sauce.


Remoulade Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup  mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon chopped shallots
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons capers, drained and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Creole mustard
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Combine  mayonnaise and remaining ingredients in a small bowl; stir with a whisk. Chill.

New Twist

Baked Green Tomatoes with Onion Relish

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Italian seasoned Panko crumbs
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 3 green tomatoes,  each cut into 4 slices
  • Sea Salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400° F Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Sprinkle the tomato slices lightly with sea salt.

Combine bread crumbs, olive oil, water, garlic, and Parmesan cheese in a small bowl. Place tomato slices in a single layer on the baking sheet. Divide the crumb mixture evenly over each tomato slice.

Bake about 20 minutes or until brown and crispy. Serve with Onion Relish.

 Onion Relish

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large sweet onions, such as Vidalia, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar, plus more to taste
  • Pinch of salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add onions and sugar. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and most of their liquid has evaporated, 10 to 20 minutes. Uncover and cook, stirring, until onions turn deep golden, 10 to 20 minutes more. (Add 1 or 2 tablespoons water if the onions start to stick.)

  2. Add garlic and rosemary; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add 1/4 cup vinegar and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and more vinegar, if desired.

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