Take it from nutritionist Sarah-Jane Blackwell, RD, of Self: these eight easy dinners are diet-approved.
Registered dietitians like me have nutrition training. We complete our schooling, 1,200 supervised practice hours, and a national board examination to become certified. However, we’re just like you in that we lead busy lives and find it challenging to eat healthy on those especially hectic days (or, if we’re honest, on the days we’re craving nothing but ice cream and pizza!). That’s why we each have?go-to quick and healthy recipes ready to be able to throw together a meal or snack without having to think twice. Here are some favorites from some of the top dietitians across the country.
1. Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana “Ice Cream”
This sweet treat contains only four ingredients and is the perfect remedy for sugar cravings. “Unlike most sugary desserts which leave you with an energy crash when the sugar leaves, this ice cream’s high quality carbohydrates from the banana will give you an energy boost,” say “Nutrition Twins” Tammy Lakatos Shames, RDN, CFT, and Lyssie Lakatos, RDN, CFT, and authors of The Nutrition Twins’ Veggie Cure.?
THE RECIPE: Blend 1 very ripe medium-large banana that has been frozen in chunks and 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk together on low until smooth and place in freezer in a freezer-proof container for about 10 minutes or until desired consistency is reached. Melt 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter in microwave for about 10 seconds and drizzle over banana “ice cream” along with 1 tablespoon dark chocolate chips.
(Serves 2) Per serving: Calories 139, 6.8g fat, 2.2g sat fat, 28g carb, 2.5g fiber, 2.6g protein
2. French Lentil Cherry Tomato Salad
Here’s a great fresh-take on a salad from California dietitian, Sharon Palmer, RDN’s book, Plant-Powered for Life. “Beans aren’t the only member of the legume family worth celebrating,” says Sharon. “Lentils, packed with fiber and protein, are just as nutritious. Plus they cook up¡ªno soaking required¡ªin only 15 to 20 minutes.” Bonus? It’s just as good the next day.
THE RECIPE: Simply simmer 1 pound of lentils in 4 cups vegetable broth for about 15 minutes. Cool and toss in 1 1/2 cups sliced cherry tomatoes, 2 chopped shallots, and 1/4 cup chopped parsley. Toss in 2 tablespoons of Italian dressing (or make your own with olive oil, red wine vinegar, and seasonings).
(Serves 6) Per Serving: 136 calories, 4 g fat, 0.5 g sat fat, 19 g carb, 4 g fiber, 8 g protein
3. Bean and Cheese Crispy Tostada
Now if only we could chow down on Mexican, guilt-free. Texas-based dietitian, Robin Plotkin, RD, Founder of Robinsbite,?has your solution: “[This crispy tostada is] ready in less than 5 minutes and satisfies my craving for a crunch.”?
THE RECIPE: Layer 3 tablespoons rinsed and drained canned black beans and 2 tablespoons of your favorite shredded cheese on 1 baked store-bought tostada. Microwave for 30 seconds or until cheese is melted. Add 1/4 of a sliced avocado and 2 tablespoons of your favorite salsa.?
(Serves 1) Per Serving: 230 calories, 15g fat, 4.5g sat fat, 21g carb, 7g fiber, 7g protein
4. Maple Mustard Salmon
Minnesota dietitian Chere Bork, MS, RDN, Energy Igniter!, says this recipe helps her work?more salmon?into her diet. “We all want to eat more omega three’s and eat a ton of salmon, and it can get so boring! But this recipe is my favorite.”
The Recipe: Mix 3 tablespoons maple syrup, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, and 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard, and marinate 1 pound of salmon fillets in mixture for 2 hours. Grill indoors or out.
(Serves 4) Per Serving: 280 calories, 15g fat, 3.5g sat fat, 11g carb, 0g fiber, 23g protein
5. Easy Black Bean Soup
Liz Weiss, MS, RDN, and Janice Newell Bissex, MS, RDN, bloggers at?Meal Makeover Moms’ Kitchen?and hosts of the family food and nutrition podcast,?Cooking with the Moms,?are pros at making?any recipe healthier (and more delicious). Their note: “This recipe takes just five minutes to put together because it calls for two convenient?ingredients: canned black beans and frozen corn.” Plus, spice it up by adding more cumin and chili powder or by choosing a spicier salsa?and serve a variety of toppings on the side.
THE RECIPE: Empty a 15-ounce can of black beans into a colander; drain and rinse under cold running water. Place the beans in a medium-size saucepan with 1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels (or fresh), 3/4 cup of your favorite salsa, 1/2 cup water, the juice of a lime, and a half teaspoon each of ground cumin and chili powder. Stir to combine, place over high heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the soup is heated through, which should take about 5 minutes. Serve in pretty bowls with toppers like shredded, reduced-fat cheese, light sour cream, diced avocado, and fresh cilantro.
(Serves 4) Per Serving (About 1 cup): 140 calories, 0g fat, 0g sat fat, 30g carbohydrate, 6g fiber, 6g protein
6.?Vegan-Loaded Sweet Potato
Kara Lydon, RD, LDN, RYT, Nutritionist and Blogger at?The Foodie Dietitian says this is the most popular recipe on her blog. “This is the ultimate vegan loaded sweet potato ¨C packed with kale, black beans, and topped off with a homemade green goddess dressing. It’s perfect for a quick and easy weeknight meal.”
THE RECIPE: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a fork, poke multiple holes into two medium sweet potatoes. Place potatoes in oven and bake for about 45 to 60 minutes, or until tender. In the meantime, heat 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat in medium saucepan. Add 1 clove garlic and cook for a couple minutes, until fragrant and before browning. Add 1 bunch kale and toss to coat. Add 1/3 cup water and cover for five minutes. Remove cover, toss kale, reduce heat, and cook for another 15 minutes or until kale is desired texture, adding more water as needed. Add 1 can drained and rinsed black beans to kale and cook until warmed. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cut sweet potatoes in half lengthwise. Top with black beans, kale, and, if desired, green goddess dressing.
(Serves 2) Per Serving (loaded potato without dressing): 410 calories, 7g fat, 1g sat fat, 80g carb, 18g fiber, 18g protein
7. Skinny Garlic Shrimp
“I am from the Louisiana coast, so I MUST have seafood in my diet,” says?Shelly Marie Redmond, MS, RD, LDN, founder of Skinny Louisiana. “I love making this for a date night or?a quick weeknight meal.”
THE RECIPE: Pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add 1/2 cup chopped onions, 1 teaspoon chopped garlic, and 1 lemon, unpeeled and cut into small pieces. Saut¨¦ for 5 minutes. Add 1 pound of uncooked?shrimp (look in freezer section of supermarket). Cover and cook 3 minutes, until shrimp turns pink. Reduce heat to medium and cook for about 12 minutes. Remove from heat. Let set 5 to 10 minutes.?
(Serves 4) Per Serving: 170 calories, 8g fat, 1g sat fat, 3g carb, 1g fiber, 23g protein
8. Simple Homemade Greek Pizza
Nashville dietitian and personal trainer, Mairead Callahan RD, CPT, created this easy (and meatless!) recipe to satisfy your pizza cravings. She says, “Going meatless once a week can reduce your risk of some chronic diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity.” ?Doing good for ourselves while chowing down on pizza? An easier decision was never made.
THE RECIPE: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread 1 store-bought 12-inch whole grain pizza crust with 1/2 cup pizza sauce, 1 1/2 cups of a combination of crumbled feta and shredded mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup sliced black olives, and 1 cup spinach. Bake for about 15 minutes.
(Serves 6) Per Serving: 230 calories, 10g fat, 6g sat fat, 27g carb, 4g fiber, 12g protein
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