My Favorite Healthy Recipes: McKenzie from Atlanta, Georgia

(Image credit: Half Baked Harvest)
(Image credit: Susanna Hopler)

Welcome to Kitchn’s new series My Favorite Healthy Recipes, where we show you how real people around the country (and even world) eat “healthy,” however they choose to define that for themselves. Maybe you’ll even find a few recipes to add to your own meal plan.

Name: McKenzie Cunningham
Location: Atlanta, GA
Age: 21
Occupation: Student
Number of people in household: 4

What Does Healthy Mean to You?

Once upon a time, I would have described my idea of healthy as following the “80:20 rule”: eat healthy foods 80 percent of the time, and allow yourself to indulge the other 20 percent. But I’ve realized that living a healthy life isn’t about restricting foods,
it’s about finding a balance — a freedom to choose the greens and the chocolate cakes. Breaking away from the diet mindset, healthy means eating the foods that will make me feel my best — whole grains, plenty of vegetables, healthy fats, etc. — and give me energy to complete my daily tasks. But it also means acknowledging my cravings when they hit (dark chocolate, anyone?). After a weekend of indulgence, it means listening to my body and pushing the reset button with a big salad. I like to think I live a “healthyish” life.

What Are Your Favorite “Healthy” Recipes?

(Image credit: Food52)

Greek yogurt is the most frequently eaten breakfast in my house. Usually it’s just topped with berries and honey, but when we have time in the morning, we make this yogurt bowl. The sweet dates work with the savory olive oil, lemon zest, and sea salt, which add a little punch, and toasted quinoa and almonds, which add nutty texture. Not only does it taste delicious, but the recipe also gives me the feeling of a little indulgence because it’s a treat when I have time to make it.

(Image credit: Half Baked Harvest)

2. Grilled Skirt Steak with Chimichurri from Half Baked Harvest

What did I do before I learned the wonders of chimichurri? It’s the perfect marinade for meats and dressing for salads or vegetables, and I love it in this dish. This is one of my favorite fresh meals — it captures the flavors of summer.

(Image credit: Cookie + Kate)

This was the gateway salad for my family — it made us love kale, as well as any recipe by Kate of Cookie + Kate. I often leave the fennel off of it, just because it isn’t necessary to enjoy the fall flavors and some family members don’t like it.

(Image credit: The Pioneer Woman)

4. Yummy Grilled Zucchini from The Pioneer Woman

Who would have thought Pioneer Woman would have created my go-to (and favorite) healthy zucchini recipe? It’s so simple, but the lemon zest makes the vegetable shine. If you don’t have time to marinate the zucchini (and don’t want to juice all the lemons), just throw the spears on the grill and toss them in the lemon salt afterwards.

(Image credit: Food Fatih Fitness)

5. Paleo Chocolate Lava Cake from Food Faith Fitness

As soon as this cake comes out of the oven, my family crowds around the plate, and it’s gone in less than a minute. It’s filled with healthy fats (almond butter! Coconut oil!) and we love to top it with fresh berries. The cake is our ultimate “healthy” dessert, although it certainly doesn’t taste that way.

Thanks so much for sharing your favorite healthy recipes, McKenzie! Want to share what healthy means to you? See how here.

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