I used to think you're either dieting or you're completely not dieting — you're on the wagon or you're wildly off. In order to get to a healthy weight and not regain, I had to find a middle ground. I eat 80 percent healthy — Monday through Friday is pretty routine for me. On weekends, I like to go to restaurants and order exactly what I want. That's the other 20 percent. I don't think, How many calories is this? but I try to tune in and not overeat just because something tastes good. That's being mindful.
At home, I think it's fun to not just remake foods in lighter ways but reimagine them. I'm a huge cheeseburger fan. Part of it is that I grew up in a house where we had red meat a lot, so it's very comforting and nostalgic to me. This cheeseburger salad is a filling, more nutritious way to enjoy all the same flavors but in salad form, without feeling like you're sacrificing anything. There's veggies, lean ground beef, and Greek yogurt in the dressing, so you get everything your body needs, minus the guilt.
I eat a different salad, always with a protein and some sort of fat in there, for almost every lunch. There's something satiating about the volume of salad, and anytime you can automate a meal with an overarching principle — "I have a big salad every day for lunch," for example — then you don't have to test your willpower with, "Should I have that leftover pasta? Pizza?" I find that making a great decision in the middle of the day creates positive momentum, and then I'm more likely to eat healthier at dinner, too.
Grab the recipe for Burger Salad With The Works here.
Studio DMarshall Troy
Collard Greens With Kale
Gina Neely, 51, a celebrity chef and cookbook author in Memphis. Five years ago, she lost 29 pounds.
Collard greens have always been my specialty. If anybody wants me to bring a dish to a gathering, they say, "Bring your collards!" The traditional way to doctor them up is with pork or ham hock. Well, I don't eat pork anymore.
Yes, I know, I'm the queen of the pig! But I gave it up as I was getting healthier and I started to think, Oh, my God, I'm not going to be able to eat my collard greens! That's just not going to work. But I personally feel that we can "remix" anything we love, so I learned to cook collards differently.
I wondered, Let me see what they would taste like with turkey. And I added crushed red pepper flakes for a little kick. And kale! Everybody was doing kale this, kale that. So I stuck some in there to see what that tasted like. It adds a savory flavor and really complements the collards — like great dancing all over your palate.
I eat this dish — usually with a sweet potato — at least once a week. Collards have always given me a "home safe home" feeling — and they're healthier than other comfort foods.
Grab her recipe for Collard Greens With Kale here.
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Carmen Melgoza, 35, the Los Angeles-based founder of Latino Fit Club, a fitness website. She lost 45 pounds nine years ago.
I came to the United States from a small town in Mexico when I was 18 and was like, Oh, wow: French fries! Pizza! I went a little bit crazy at the beginning. I was like a yo-yo. I would lose weight, then gain it back. That was basically the story of my life until nine years ago.
I was working at Beachbody [a company that streams on-demand fitness videos], and I decided to give the at-home workouts a try. I started seeing results, and it inspired me to educate myself about fitness and clean eating instead of dieting. One day I was thinking about how much I love pizza but can't afford all that crust, so I decided to replace it with a tortilla — my favorite Mexican carb — to lighten it up a bit.
This recipe keeps me in check when cravings strike. Which is often! I make it at least twice a week. My pizza has fewer calories than the regular, thicker-crust kind, but it's just as satisfying and tasty. Plus, you can eat the whole thing. It's kind of my "treat meal," but still on the healthy side.