A little sweet and a little savory, this easy and flavorful chicken dish is perfect for dinner.

Blueberries are loaded with anti-inflammatory phytochemicals and antioxidants that help fend off muscular pain and disease. Paired with the muscle-building properties of chicken and you’ve got the perfect dish for dinner.

Blueberry Rosemary Chicken

Ready in: 50 minutes

Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups frozen blueberries, divided
  • ½ cup pomegranate juice or blueberry
  • ¼ cup prepared yellow mustard
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • ¼ cup dried rosemary
  • 2 Tbsp. dried basil
  • 2 Tbsp. ground black pepper
  • 20 oz. chicken breasts, boneless and skinless

Directions

  1. In a blender combine 1 cup blueberries with the next 7 ingredients. Set mixture aside.
  2. Pound chicken breasts to about ½-inch thickness. Marinate chicken in mixture and add water, if needed, to cover.
  3. Heat a large skillet. Add marinated chicken breasts and brown on each side. Add marinade, bring everything to a boil then reduce to low heat. Simmer for 30 minutes or until the marinade starts to reduce and thicken. Add the remaining blueberries and heat through.

Nutrients per serving: Calories: 334, Total Fats: 12 g, Saturated Fat: 2 g, Trans Fat: 0 g, Cholesterol: 87 mg, Sodium: 453 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 23 g, Dietary Fiber: 4 g, Sugars: 17 g, Protein: 34 g, Iron: 2 mg

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Nourish your body, aid your digestion and increase your energy with these comforting and nutrient-dense soup recipes.

Chicken soup can be a panacea for both colds and fevers. It’s warm and hydrating and appears to prompt anti-inflammatory activity to help you rebound more quickly. Warm up to these delicious chicken soup recipes this fall.

Veggie-licious Chicken Soup

Makes: 10 Servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped
  • ½ cup celery, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • ½ cup shelled edamame
  • 1 (15-oz) can black beans
  • ½ cup corn (frozen, fresh or canned)
  • 2 fresh tomatoes, diced
  • 1 can stewed tomatoes
  • 2 (15-oz) cans low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth
  • 1½ cups water
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp seafood seasoning
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

DIRECTIONS

Slow Cooker

  1. Place all ingredients except chicken in a slow cooker, stirring to blend. Lay chicken on top and push down slightly to cover with soup. Cook 5 hours on low heat.
  2. Remove chicken from soup. Let chicken cool slightly, then shred. Stir back into soup and continue to cook 1 hour.

Stove-Top

  1. Saute onions, carrots, celery and garlic in 2 tablespoons olive oil in a Dutch oven for 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients except chicken and simmer until veggies are tender.
  2. Add cooked, diced chicken to soup and simmer until chicken is heated through.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 160, protein 17 g, carbs 19 g, fat 2 g, fiber 5 g, sodium 200 mg

Quinoa Chicken Soup

Quinoa Chicken Soup

Makes: 4 Servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tbsp grapeseed or canola oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp Creole or Cajun seasoning
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 carton (32 ounces) low-sodium chicken broth
  • ¾ cup quinoa
  • 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
  • 1 cup roughly chopped parsley

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, celery and ½ teaspoon salt; heat 6 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, Creole or Cajun seasoning, and thyme; heat 30 seconds. Place broth and quinoa in a pan, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer partially covered until quinoa is tender, about 12 minutes. Stir in chicken and warm through.
  2. Place soup in serving bowls and garnish with parsley.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 315, protein 29 g, carbs 29 g, fat 9 g, fiber 5 g, sodium 283

Chicken and Parsnip Soup

Makes: 4 Servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 1½ tsp olive oil
  • ¾ cup parsnips, peeled and thinly sliced diagonally
  • ¾ shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 (4-oz) package gourmet mushroom blend, trimmed and sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2½ cups fat-free low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup rotisserie chicken breast, shredded
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ⅛ tsp hot sauce
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

DIRECTIONS

  1. Add olive oil to a medium saucepan and heat over medium-high.
  2. Add parsnips, shallots, mushrooms and garlic and saute 3 minutes.
  3. Add all remaining ingredients except parsley and bring to a simmer. Cook 10 minutes, or until parsnips are tender.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in parsley.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 204, protein 17 g, carbs 25 g, fat 4 g, fiber 5 g, sodium 607 mg

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Refuel your body with this clean, protein-rich meal postworkout!

You know it’s important to refuel after your workout. Here’s a recipe that fits the bill for meal number one: post-weight workout. We’ve taken a classic New Orleans dish, jambalaya, and gave it a clean makeover. Toss in different fresh vegetables for a good dose of carbs, fiber and immune-boosting antioxidants. Here are three clean tweaks:

  • Quinoa is a quick-cooking, high-protein, fiber-rich whole grain.
  • Fatty andouille sausage is replaced by lean chicken sausage.
  • Extra protein and zinc comes from the super-lean, omega-3-rich shrimp
Healthy Quinoa Jambalaya Recipe

Quinoa Jambalaya

Ready in: 30 minutes

Makes: 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 low-sodium chicken sausage, sliced into 6 rounds (try: Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/4 cup dry quinoa
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 can fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1/4 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Sea salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 green onion, sliced thinly

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Saute onion, zucchini, bell pepper, garlic and sausage slices for 5 minutes. Add the quinoa and toss to coat, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add broth and tomatoes to skillet and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the shrimp and cover the pan. Cook an additional 5 to 10 minutes, or until the shrimp are opaque and cooked through.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and place onto plates. Top with green onions. Serve.

Nutrients per serving: Calories: 400, Total Fats: 15 g, Saturated Fat: 3 g, Trans Fat: 0 g, Cholesterol: 125 mg, Sodium: 500 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 39 g, Dietary Fiber: 6 g, Sugars: 9 g, Protein: 24 g, Iron: 4 mg[/colored_box]

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Dare to try this zesty low-carb entrée recipe from Next-Level Lifting Coach Candice Lewis-Carter.

Who doesn’t love a savory, low-carb dish that’s also easy to make? Because I maintain a keto lifestyle to help manage my symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), I’m always looking for tasty dishes that focus mainly on protein and vegetables.

I’m including one of my go-to recipes below: Mexican stuffed peppers. Feel free to get creative with the ingredients — for instance, I often use a mix of bison and beef, and I love playing around with different spices, too. Sometimes I’ll even reheat any leftovers for breakfast and add an egg on top. I never get sick of this dish!

Mexican Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients

  • 1 pound 90% lean ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 24-ounce jar restaurant-style salsa
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • 2¼ cups water, divided
  • ½ tsp kosher salt, divided
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro, divided
  • 6 bell peppers, stems and tops removed, seeded
  • 1 cup shredded cheese, Mexican blend or cheddar
  • ¼ cup sour cream (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Brown ground beef in a large frying pan over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, or until cooked almost through.
  3. Add onions and cook until softened, about 5 more minutes.
  4. Stir in jarred salsa, chili powder and cumin.
  5. Add white rice and 2 cups water, season with ¼ teaspoon kosher salt and bring to a boil, then reduce to medium-low. Cover and cook 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until rice is tender, adding more water, if necessary.
  6. When rice is tender, fold in ¾ tablespoon chopped cilantro, reserving the rest for garnish.
  7. While meat and rice are cooking, cut off tops of peppers, spoon out the ribs and seeds, then rinse. Lightly sprinkle the inside of peppers with kosher salt and place in a microwave-safe dish with ¼ cup water. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave 5 minutes, or until they soften but still hold their shape.
  8. Transfer peppers to a 3-quart baking dish. Fill peppers with hot meat and rice mixture.
  9. Bake 18 to 20 minutes, or until peppers are tender. Sprinkle with cheese and heat for an additional 1 to 2 minutes, or until cheese has melted. Garnish with chopped cilantro and sour cream, if you’d like, and serve.
Candice Lewis-Carter, your coach for Next-Level Lifting.

Have you been lifting for a while? Do you want to push your limits and see just how far you can go? Let Candice Lewis-Carter — a 13-time IFBB Figure champion, seven-time Olympia Figure champion, two-time Arnold Classic Figure champion and two-time Arnold Classic Australia Figure champion — be your guide. She’s partnered with Oxygen to create Next-Level Lifting, an exclusive eight-week program for those looking to level up their fitness and their physiques. Sign up today!

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Transform your end-of-summer barbecue menu with these healthy swaps guests will love.

As summer winds down, there seem to be a lot of “lasts” — the last few carefree days before school starts, the last of the warm weather and sunshine, and the last barbecue of the season.

Whether you’re hosting a Labor Day barbecue or bringing a dish to someone else’s party, you’ll want the meal to be as unforgettable as the summer memories you’re leaving behind. How about giving the same old menu a healthy twist without taking away the yummy traditions guests expect? 

“Food triggers an emotional response for many of us, especially on holidays and family gatherings,” says April Dearden, a certified nutritionist, wellness coach and founder of the New Normal Lifestyle Inc. “There is a comfort and familiarity that comes with the food at these events. Swapping out fats and sugars for herbs and spices creates dishes that are healthy yet don’t leave us feeling deprived. My goal is to make dishes that look and feel like the original version but are so full of flavor that people won’t even know it’s healthy — because it’s just delicious.”

Below, Dearden shares her recipes for revamping your entire menu — from side dishes to desserts.

Ditch Mayo-Based Coleslaw and Switch to:

Mango Slaw

The main ingredients of a good slaw are so healthy — shaved cabbage, broccoli and carrots are high in fiber, vitamins and minerals. But then you go and mix in mayonnaise, which not only can add extra calories to your dish, but it also doesn’t keep well in the heat. No host wants to risk a guest becoming ill. Instead, mango slaw is made with a delicious vinaigrette. You’ll get a hint of sweet from the mango and a little heat from the jalapeño.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 bag pre-cut slaw with broccoli
  • 1 mango, cut into slices
  • ½ red onion, sliced thin
  • 1 jalapeño, sliced thin
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped

Dressing

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • splash of water
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard

DIRECTIONS

Place all salad ingredients into bowl. Pour dressing ingredients in small Mason jar and shake. Then pour dressing over ingredients and toss. Let sit 10 to 20 minutes in refrigerator. 

Ditch Iceberg Salad and Switch to:

Red, White and Blue Kale Salad

Don’t be the person who tosses a bag of iceberg lettuce with some cucumbers and carrots, throws on some store-bought ranch dressing and calls it a day. This festive red, white and blue kale salad is perfect for Labor Day and loaded with nutrients from several superfoods. Kale’s antioxidant value is more than three times higher than iceberg lettuce. It’s high in vitamin K and iron. This anti-inflammatory also has cardiovascular benefits. Berries are another superfood that can help lower cholesterol, improve cardiovascular function and reduce inflammation. Feta cheese is lower in fat and calories than other cheeses. The small amount used in this salad allows for a little creamy texture without adding tons of calories. Just a squeeze of fresh lemon juice lets all the natural flavors in this salad shine.

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 cups kale, chopped
  • 2 cups strawberries
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • ½ cup feta cheese
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS

Wash all produce under warm water. Pat dry with clean cloth. Remove spine from kale and chop into bite-size pieces. Remove stems from strawberries and cut in quarters. Crumble feta cheese. Add kale, strawberries, blueberries and feta to large bowl. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over salad. Sprinkle salt and pepper (to taste). Toss and serve.

Ditch Store-Bought Barbecue Sauce and Switch to:

Homemade Barbecue Sauce

Store-bought barbecue sauce often has preservatives, added sugar and hydrogenated oils. But it’s not a barbecue without a really good sauce! So take control of the ingredients and make your own in less than five minutes. This tangy sauce is sweetened with maple syrup. Be sure to use a high-quality maple syrup (not a pancake syrup, which is highly processed). Maple syrup is extracted from the tree and has been boiled down to concentrate the sugar. It has more nutrients than table sugar, and we’ll only use 1 tablespoon in the entire recipe.

INGREDIENTS

  • 6-oz can tomato paste
  • ¾ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp Worcester sauce
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup

DIRECTIONS

Add all ingredients into medium bowl. Whisk together until well-combined. Coat your protein of choice and grill.  

Ditch Potato Salad and Switch to:

Grilled Sweet Potatoes

You’ll always find potato salad on the table at a barbecue. Unfortunately, it’s usually made with white potatoes and mayonnaise. White potatoes are high in sugar and therefore spike your blood sugar. Sweet potatoes, however, are lower on the glycemic index and are a superfood high in vitamin A, C and beta carotene and rich in fiber. They also can help boost your immune system. Throw them on the grill for a few minutes, toss with olive oil and you have a simple side even the kids will love.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS

Peel sweet potatoes. Using a mandolin or sharp knife, cut sweet potatoes into ¼-inch-thick wedges lengthwise to make ovals. Grill two to three minutes on each side until tender but not mushy. Remove from grill and toss with olive oil, rosemary, salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature. 

Ditch Baked Beans and Switch to:

Three-Bean Salad

Baked beans are a favorite barbecue item, but they are typically loaded with sugar (and fat if you add bacon). Swap baked beans for a delicious three-bean salad that’s high in fiber and protein. This recipe has an Asian flair, with hot Chinese mustard, sesame oil and ginger. Ginger has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It’s amazing for your digestive system — it can help with nausea, regularity and cramps. This salad is perfect as a side dish and great as a protein source for your vegetarian guests.

INGREDIENTS

  • 15 ½-oz can black beans
  • 15 ½-oz can red beans
  • 15 ½-oz can garbanzo beans
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ⅓ cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp Chinese style hot mustard
  • 1 tsp dried Chinese ginger
  • 2 tsp liquid aminos
  • 2 tbsp water

DIRECTIONS

Drain and rinse beans. Add to medium-size bowl. Finely chop scallions, including greens. Add to beans. In small jar with tight lid or bowl, combine all remaining ingredients. Shake or whisk together. Pour ⅔ of the dressing (or to taste) over beans and scallions. Toss with large spoon. Reserve any remain dressing in refrigerator for up to a week. 

Ditch Traditional Cookies and Switch to:

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

Cookies and brownies are full of refined sugar and white flour that gunk up your digestive system. White flour and sugar are metabolized at a faster rate and spike your blood sugar. They also lack any nutritional value. Swap out these high-sugar treats for flourless peanut butter cookies. A natural peanut butter (read the labels and find one with no added sugar) is a good source of protein and healthy fat. Refined table sugar has been replaced with coconut sugar, which is lower on the glycemic index and has added nutrients that regular table sugar is lacking.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup natural peanut butter (or nut butter of choice)
  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 large egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • sea salt

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In medium bowl, mix peanut butter, coconut sugar, egg and vanilla until well-combined. Spoon 1 tablespoon of mixture about 1 inch apart onto ungreased baking sheet. Flatten mounds with tines of fork, making crosshatch pattern on cookies. Sprinkle with sea salt. Bake until golden brown around edges, about 15 minutes. Switch position of tray every five minutes. Transfer to cooling rack.

Ditch Beer and Wine and Switch to:

Prosecco Spritzer

Beer and wine go hand in hand at a barbecue — along with empty calories, sugar and carbohydrates. Here’s an adult beverage that is refreshing and won’t completely throw you off your game. Prosecco is lower in calories than most other alcohols. Cutting that even further with seltzer water helps reduce the sugar content in your cocktail, as well. Add in some fresh fruit and the juice of your favorite citrus for added flavor. Pour over ice and enjoy!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 bottle Prosecco
  • 16 oz unsweetened seltzer water (can be flavored)
  • fresh-squeezed juice of 1 lemon, lime and orange
  • 1 cup Granny Smith apple
  • 1 cup frozen peaches
  • 1 cup seedless red grapes
  • fresh mint for garnish

DIRECTIONS

Wash apples and grapes under warm water and pat dry with clean cloth. Core apple and cut into ¼-inch cubes. Add apples, grapes and frozen peaches to clear pitcher. Slowly pour Prosecco into pitcher. (If you tilt pitcher and pour Prosecco so it goes down the side of glass, it will keep bubbles from overflowing.) Add seltzer using the same technique as the Prosecco. Pour over ice and garnish with sprig of fresh mint. 

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This four-week meal plan will stoke your fat-burning fire and support your get-lean goals — without cravings or deprivation!

The problem with most meal plans is that they drastically eliminate macronutrients or slash calories so much that you’re unable to resist the magnetic pull of that darned office doughnut box.

But as every savvy Oxygen woman knows, reducing calories too much or excommunicating an entire food group (usually carbs) means a sluggish metabolism and a screeching halt to your fat-loss goals. But this meal plan adjusts your macronutrients each week for a month with no eliminations or harsh restrictions, allowing for lasting results you’ll love. Eat up!

This meal plan adjusts your macronutrients each week with no eliminations or harsh restrictions.

The Details

For this plan, you’ll keep your total daily calorie intake consistent while slowly tweaking your macronutrient ratios to keep energy high and augment your metabolism. Here’s how it will break down:

Based on an intake of 1,500 to 1,600 calories a day.

Cinnamon Roll Protein Muffins

Cinnamon Roll Protein Muffins

Makes: 12 Muffins

INGREDIENTS

Muffins

  • 1½ cups oat flour
  • 1 cup protein powder, vanilla or cinnamon flavor
  • 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar or honey
  • ½ cup 2% plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 large eggs or 2 flax eggs
  • 2 tbsp vanilla extract

Glaze

  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 3 tsp water

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 F. Coat a muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients and mix well. Spoon batter into muffin cups. Bake 22 to 24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool. Combine glaze ingredients and drizzle over muffins.

Nutrition Facts (per serving = 1 muffin): calories 112, fat 2 g, protein 9 g, sodium 161 mg, carbs 15 g, fiber 2 g, sugar 7 g

Blue Raspberry Chia Jam

Makes: 12 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1-2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1-2 tbsp honey or maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds

DIRECTIONS

Place a small saucepan over medium heat and add fruit. Cook until it begins to break down and become syrupy, about 5 to 10 minutes. Using a fork, potato masher or spatula, mash to desired consistency (smooth or lumpy). Remove from heat and add lemon juice and honey. Stir in chia seeds and let stand 5 minutes to thicken. Transfer to a jar and allow to cool to room temperature before refrigerating.

Nutrition Facts (per serving = 2 tbsp): calories 29, fat 1 g, protein 1 g, sodium 1 mg, carbs 5 g, fiber 2 g, sugar 3 g

One ounce of chia seeds contains almost 6 grams of fiber, which has been shown to facilitate weight loss, and plenty of omega-3 and alpha-linolenic acids, which help your body shed fat.

Red, White and Blue Power Smoothie

Red, White and Blue Power Smoothie

Makes: 1 Serving

INGREDIENTS

Smoothie

  • ¼ cup frozen strawberries
  • ¼ cup frozen blueberries
  • ½ frozen banana
  • 1 scoop vanilla or unflavored protein powder
  • ¼ cup nonfat milk of choice
  • 1 tbsp almond butter
  • 1-2 dates

Toppings (optional)

  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp almonds, chopped

DIRECTIONS

Add all smoothie ingredients to a blender cup and blend on high until smooth. Top with honey and almonds (if using).

Nutrition Facts (without toppings): calories 370, fat 10 g, protein 31 g, sodium 152 mg, carbs 47 g, fiber 9 g, sugar 32 g

Bananas are better at replenishing electrolytes and facilitating recovery postworkout than sports drinks, according to research published in PLOS One. And dates are a nutritious sweetening alternative with 7 grams of fiber per 3-ounce serving.

Blueberry Lemon Pancakes

Blueberry Lemon Pancakes

Makes: 1 Serving

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/3 cup oat flour
  • ½ scoop protein powder, vanilla or unflavored
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 tsp sugar or honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup milk of choice
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • ¼ tbsp lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp fresh or frozen blueberries

DIRECTIONS

Add dry ingredients to a large bowl and mix well. Add wet ingredients and whisk to combine. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium. Pour in batter and sprinkle with blueberries. Cook until bubbles form, then flip and cook 1 to 2 minutes more.

Nutrition Facts: calories 272, fat 0 g, protein 26 g, sodium 244 mg, carbs 41 g, fiber 3 g, sugar 9 g

According to research published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, drinking a blueberry smoothie before or after strength training may help reduce recovery time. 

Chicken and Broccoli Mac ‘n’ Cheese

Makes: 8 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 10 oz protein or chickpea elbow noodles
  • 1 large head broccoli cut into florets and roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups nonfat milk of choice
  • 3 cups reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups cooked chicken breast, diced
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper

DIRECTIONS

Cook pasta according to package instructions, adding broccoli for the last 5 to 6 minutes of cooking. Drain and set aside. Reduce heat to low, add butter and flour to pot and cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Whisk in milk until smooth. Add cheese and stir until melted. Add pasta, broccoli, chicken, salt and pepper and heat through.

Nutrition Facts (per serving = about ¾ cup): calories 356, fat 13 g, protein 33 g, sodium 607 mg, carbs 29 g, fiber 3 g, sugar 3 g

Cheesy Turkey Meatballs

Cheesy Turkey Meatballs

Makes: 6 Servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb 93% lean ground turkey
  • ¼ cup seasoned whole-wheat breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup baby spinach, chopped
  • ½ cup reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Add all ingredients to a large bowl and combine using your hands. Form 18 (1-inch) meatballs and arrange on baking sheet. Bake 15 to 18 minutes, or until golden brown, turning halfway through.

Try this recipe in your air fryer: Preheat the fryer to 400 degrees and cook meatballs 10 minutes, turning halfway through.

Nutrition Facts (per serving = 3 meatballs): calories 213, fat 11 g, protein 24 g, sodium 196 mg, carbs 4 g, fiber 0 g, sugar 0 g Try this recipe in your air fryer: Preheat the fryer to 400 degrees and cook meatballs 10 minutes, turning halfway through.

According to recent research, compounds such as sulforaphane in broccoli may help protect your skin from UV damage.

PBJ Protein Bites

Makes: 16 bites

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup raw unsalted peanuts
  • ½ cup raw unsalted walnuts
  • ½ cup raw unsalted cashews
  • 1 cup protein powder, vanilla or unflavored
  • 1 bag (34 g) freeze-dried strawberries
  • 8 large or 10 small
  • medjool dates, pitted
  • pinch sea salt

DIRECTIONS

Add nuts to a food processor container and pulse until a crumbly powder is formed. Add remaining ingredients and process until well-combined. Use a tablespoon to measure out portions and form into balls. Place in an airtight container and refrigerate.

Nutrition Facts (per serving = 1 bite): calories 177, fat 10 g, protein 9 g, sodium 27 mg, carbs 16 g, fiber 3 g, sugar 10 g

A review of literature published in Nutrients determined that the polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats in nuts can help with weight loss while reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and inflammation.

Shrimp Pad Thai Noodle Bowl

Shrimp Pad Thai Noodle Bowl

Makes: 4 Servings

INGREDIENTS

Sauce

  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • ¼ cup fish sauce
  • ¼ cup tamarind concentrate or lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce

Shrimp + Noodles

  • 8 oz protein or chickpea pasta of choice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 lb cooked peeled and deveined shrimp (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 red bell peppers, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • ½ cup carrots, shredded
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 green onions, sliced into 1-inch pieces

Toppings (optional)

  • ¼ cup chopped peanuts
  • juice of 1 lime
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes

DIRECTIONS

Add sauce ingredients to a bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside. Cook noodles al dente according to package instructions. Drain and immediately toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Set aside. Heat remaining oil on high in a large saute pan or wok. Add shrimp and saute 1 to 2 minutes, tossing occasionally, until pink and cooked through. Transfer to a plate. Add peppers, sprouts, carrots and garlic and saute 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cooked shrimp, noodles, sauce and green onions. Toss well to combine. Serve with toppings (if using).

Nutrition Facts (per serving, without toppings): calories 420, fat 11 g, protein 35 g, sodium 1,627 mg, carbs 53 g, fiber 6 g, sugar 13 g

Several studies show that foods that contain capsaicin, such as is found in red pepper flakes, can help boost metabolism while suppressing appetite.

View the 4 images of this gallery on the original article

What Now?

Finished with the Fit in Four plan? Use these scenarios to determine your next steps.

You were hungry. Add in one or two 1-cup servings of fruit or veggies throughout the day.

You were not hungry. Combine the snacks or eliminate one snack altogether.

You loved the results and are ready to switch to maintenance mode. Slowly rejig your macros to baseline to allow your body to reacclimate. Try following the meal plan backward — starting with Week 4 and working backward to Week 2 or 1.

You loved the results but want to lose a little more fat. Repeat the meal plan from the beginning.

You didn’t love the meals and want to use your own recipes. Use a nutrition app such as My Macros+ to calculate the macronutrient breakdown for your faves and plug them into the plan.

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Tender and juicy, these pork chops stuffed with sun-dried tomatoes make a delicious and satisfying meal.

Sun-Dried Tomato Stuffed Pork Chops

Makes: 4 servings

Serving Size: 1 stuffed pork chop

Total Time: 30 minutes

Hands-On Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless, center-cut pork chops (4 ounces each)
  • ½ medium onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
  • 2 thin slices whole-grain bread, cubed (1 cup)
  • 8 prunes, diced (½ cup)
  • 1/3 cup chopped bottled oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (about 10)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary leaves, divided
  • ½ teaspoon ground sage, divided
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions

  1. Using a small sharp knife, carefully cut a slit in the center of each pork chop, being careful not to cut all the way through each chop. Gently open each pork chop to form a pocket.
  2. In a small bowl, combine onion, bread cubes, prunes, sun-dried tomatoes, egg, 1 teaspoon of rosemary, and ¼ teaspoon of sage; mix until well combined and softened. Divide mixture among pork chops and gently press filling into the pocket in each pork chop until it is firmly stuffed. Pinch the edge of the pork chop to enclose the filling and secure with toothpicks.
  3. In another small bowl, combine remaining 1 teaspoon rosemary, remaining ¼ teaspoon sage, salt and black pepper. Rub some of this herb mixture over one side of each pork chop, pressing the mixture firmly down into the pork.
  4. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add pork chops to the skillet, seasoned side down. Gently press remaining seasoning mixture into the sides of the pork chops that are facing up. Cook pork chops until a food thermometer reads 145 degrees, turning once, about five minutes per side. Serve immediately.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 392, total fat 18 g (saturated fat 5 g, trans fat 0 g), sodium 445 mg, carbohydrates 22 g (fiber 3 g, sugar 10 g), protein 38 g

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Plan ahead and make these healthy and hearty meals that go quickly from fridge to fork — just heat and eat!

Imagine a life where dinner is ready when you get home from work, where snacks are grab-and-go and breakfast miraculously appears from your freezer. No more greasy takeout. No more cardboard frozen pizza.

Yes, that life could be yours.

Make-ahead meals are timesaving treasures. With a little planning and a dash of foresight, you can create nutritious fare for every meal all week long!

Learn how to master meal prep and make dining at home easy.

Make-Ahead Metrics

Mastering meal prep allows you to stay on top of your nutrition game, whether your goals are fat loss, building muscle or maintenance. Here’s how to make it happen.

Create a Menu

Meal prepping doesn’t mean you have to eat the same things all the time. That’s the beauty of building a menu. First, write down things you like to eat for breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner, including a couple of different options to prevent boredom. Then see how they could fit into a weekly table that complements your schedule.

Make a Grocery List

Create a grocery checklist based on your menu, and be sure to include the amounts of each item you will need to buy to accurately create your recipes without wasting food. For example, the Make-Ahead Meal-Plan Grocery List includes enough food for a week’s worth of meals and snacks.

Shop for Supplies

Hit the store, grocery list in hand, and buy your needed items. In addition, make sure you purchase plenty of zip-close bags and airtight food containers to store your prepped food, as well as masking tape or stickers to label and date your meals.

Prep, Prep, Prep

Once home, it’s time to get busy. Lay out all your ingredients and containers and give yourself about two hours to prepare all your food. Some recipes make more servings than others, so pay attention to the directions in the Make-Ahead Recipes (as well as your own), doubling them, if necessary, to ensure you have enough food for an entire week. Once cooked, parcel out your meals into individual containers or baggies, and label them with a name, portion size and date.

Allot Snack Space

Many snacks don’t need cooking, so assign these to a large drawer in your refrigerator or a shelf in your pantry. Stock these spaces with healthy grab-and-go snacks such as apples, string cheese, sliced veggies, yogurt, hummus, raisins, popcorn, natural fruit leathers and the like.

Create a Meal Plan

Once your prep is complete, outline a weekly schedule that delineates what you’re going to have for breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner every day of the week. For an example, look over the sample Make-Ahead Meal Plan. Before bed, organize everything you’ll be eating the next day so you’re ready.

Monitor Inventory

Like a restaurant manager, it’s your job to keep track of your meal supply and to replenish your inventory before you run out so you don’t leave your nutrition up to chance.

Family-Style Meals

These tasty and nutritious meals are an easy sell, and because they’re so easy to make ahead, you’ll have more time to spend with your fam! Double the ingredients for a family of four or to have leftovers for extra meals during the week.

Add your seasoning blend of choice to this shredded chicken breast recipe.

Slow-Cooker Shredded Chicken Breast

Makes: 10-12 Servings

Prep Time: 10 Minutes

Cook Time: 4-6+ Hours

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in half
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp seasoning blend of choice (e.g., Montreal chicken or garlic and herb blend)
  • 2 tbsp salted butter

DIRECTIONS

Place chicken in a slow cooker. Add broth and seasoning to a bowl and stir. Pour over chicken. Place butter in center, cover and cook on low at least 6 hours (4 if cooking on high). Remove chicken with a slotted spoon and place in a large airtight container. Use 2 forks to shred, then pour some of the remaining liquid from the pot onto chicken, if desired. Allow to cool before refrigerating.

Tip: The longer and slower the chicken is allowed to cook, the juicier it will be.

Nutrition Facts (per serving= 5.4 ounces): calories 157, fat5 g, protein 26 g, sodium 84 mg, carbs 0 g, fiber 0 g, sugar 0 g

Sheet Pan Chicken and Asparagus

Sheet Pan Chicken and Asparagus

Makes: 2 Servings

Prep Time: 5 Minutes

Cook Time: 20-22 Minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp chopped or crushed garlic
  • 2 (4-6 oz each) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 12 large asparagus spears, trimmed
  • 5 lemon slices (optional)
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 450 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil and coat lightly with nonstick cooking spray. In a medium bowl, combine lemon juice, honey, pepper, salt and garlic. Add chicken and toss to coat. Place chicken and asparagus on prepared sheet and drizzle remaining marinade over top. Place lemon slices on both chicken and asparagus, if using, then sprinkle cheese on asparagus. Cover with foil and bake 15 minutes. Remove foil, flip chicken and stir asparagus and cook another 5 to 7 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 253, fat 5 g, protein 31 g, sodium 416 mg, carbs 24 g, fiber 3 g, sugar 19 g

Sheet Pan Protein Pancakes

Sheet Pan Protein Pancakes

Makes: 6 Servings

Prep Time: 5 Minutes

Bake Time: 15 Minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • ¾ cup oat flour
  • ¾ cup buckwheat flour (You can sub rolled or ground oats.)
  • ½ cup vanilla whey protein powder
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 2 cups low-fat buttermilk or milk of choice
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1½ tsp vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 425 F. Line an 18-inch-by-13-inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and coat with nonstick cooking spray. Add dry ingredients to a large bowl and stir to combine. In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, egg, egg yolk, butter and vanilla. Slowly pour milk mixture into dry ingredients, whisking until combined. Pour batter onto prepared sheet, tilting sheet to spread evenly. Bake on middle rack 10 to 12 minutes, rotating halfway through, or until pancake is slightly golden. Remove and slice into 12 squares. Refrigerate in an airtight container.

Nutrition Facts (per serving= 2 squares): calories 251, fat6 g, protein 20 g, sodium 847 mg, carbs 30 g, fiber 5 g, sugar 13 g

French Onion and Mushroom Quinoa

Makes: 4 Servings

Prep Time: 5 Minutes

Cook Time: 35-40 Minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ cup baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
  • dash salt and pepper
  • 2 cups dry quinoa
  • 1 packet French onion dip mix
  • 3½ cups water

Tip: A French onion dip mix has less sodium than a French onion soup mix, so read the labels carefully if you’re watching your salt intake.

DIRECTIONS

Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high. Add mushrooms, salt and pepper and saute until mushrooms are soft, about 3 minutes. Add water, quinoa and French onion dip mix and bring to a rolling boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, 15 minutes. Reduce heat to lowest setting, cover and cook an additional 15 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Tip: If any liquid remains or the quinoa is still crunchy, return it to the pot and cook on low 5 more minutes, or until all the water has been absorbed.

Nutrition Facts (per serving= 3 ounces): calories 292, fat7 g, protein 9 g, sodium 516 mg, carbs 49 g, fiber 5 g, sugar 0 g

Make-Ahead Meal-Plan Grocery List

Freezer Meals

Your freezer is good for more than just ice cream. These recipes are healthy and hearty, and since they’ve already been prepped, they are easy to heat and eat in a pinch.

Bacon, Egg and Cheese Breakfast Burrito

Bacon, Egg and Cheese Breakfast Burrito

Makes: 6 Servings

Prep Time: 10-15 Minutes

Cook Time: 30-60 Seconds

INGREDIENTS

  • 12 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp milk of choice
  • dash salt and pepper
  • 6 low-calorie 9-inch whole- wheat tortillas*
  • 6 oz shredded low-fat American cheese
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked

DIRECTIONS

Add eggs, milk, salt and pepper to a large bowl and whisk lightly. Coat a large skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium. Add egg mixture and cook, stirring continually, until no liquid remains, 3 to 5 minutes. To each tortilla, add 1 ounce cheese and 1 slice bacon. Divide eggs evenly between tortillas and fold in sides. Roll up and place seam-side down to cool. Then wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place in a large zip-close bag to freeze. When ready to eat, remove wrap and microwave 60 to 90 seconds, or until warmed through.

These burritos can last up to three months in the freezer!

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 320, fat 18 g, protein 31 g, sodium 1,028 mg, carbs 21 g, fiber 14 g, sugar 2 g 

*Low-carb, 60-calorie tortillas were used in the nutrition analysis.

PB and Banana Sandwiches

PB and Banana Sandwiches

Makes: 10 Sandwiches

Prep Time: 10-15 Minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 20 slices soft wheat bread*
  • 10 tbsp all-natural peanut butter
  • 5 medium bananas, sliced

DIRECTIONS

Spread 1 tablespoon peanut butter on each of 10 slices of bread. Evenly divide banana slices on remaining 10 slices. Place peanut-butter bread on top of banana bread and press together lightly. Cut in half and place each sandwich in a zip-close bag to freeze. Thaw at room temperature 30 to 60 minutes before eating.

Tip: Place a frozen sandwich in your cooler bag in the morning — it will be thawed and ready to eat at lunch!

Nutrition Facts (per sandwich): calories 343, fat 17 g, protein 14 g, sodium 361 mg, carbs 37 g, fiber 9 g, sugar 9 g

*The bread used was 45 calories per slice.

Taco Lasagna

Makes: 9 Servings

Prep Time: 15 Minutes

Cook Time: 20-25 Minutes.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 lb ground beef (90-93% lean)
  • 1 packet low-sodium taco seasoning
  • 9 low-calorie 9-inch whole- wheat tortillas*
  • 1 (16-oz) can fat-free refried beans
  • 16 oz low-fat shredded Mexican-style cheese

DIRECTIONS

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add ground beef and seasoning packet and cook until browned. Drain and set aside. In a large casserole or baking dish, assemble lasagna: Lay 2 tortillas in the bottom side by side. Spread refried beans on top and then evenly spread meat and cheese on top. Continue layering in this manner with remaining ingredients, finishing with a layer of tortillas and some reserved cheese to sprinkle on top. Cover and freeze. When ready to eat, preheat oven to 350 F and cook, covered, 20 minutes. Then remove foil and bake an additional 5 minutes, or until cheese is golden brown.

Tip: Pop this recipe out of the freezer 30 to 60 minutes before baking or allow to thaw in the refrigerator overnight.

Nutrition Facts (per serving = 8 ounces; does not include toppings): calories 351, fat 17 g, protein 39 g, sodium 792 mg, carbs 16 g, fiber 9 g, sugar 0 g

*Low-carb, 60-calorie tortillas were used in the nutrition analysis.

Optional Toppings

  • Shredded lettuce
  • Tomatoes
  • Guacamole
  • Mexican-style corn
  • Hot sauce
  • Pico de galloScallions
  • Low-fat/fat-free sour cream
  • Scallions
  • Cilantro

Snack Attach

Having healthy foods on hand is key for preventing a snaccident. These recipes are quick and easy to make and to help keep you on track.

DIY Power Bento Box

Makes: 5 Servings

Prep Time: 10-15 Minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 Babybel cheese rounds (original flavor)
  • 5 small apples, sliced
  • 5 packets peanut or almond butter
  • 5 100-calorie snack bars
  • 1¼ cups sliced fresh veggies of choice

DIRECTIONS

Divide ingredients evenly into compartmented containers. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 501, fat 32 g, protein 18 g, sodium 455 mg, carbs 39 g, fiber 11 g, sugar 22 g

Tip: Place a paper napkin in each bento container for a tidy snack!

Froyo Bites

Makes: 12-14 Bites

Prep Time: 10-15 Minutes

Freeze Time: 2+ Hours

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 oz cashews
  • 1 oz blueberries
  • 1 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt

DIRECTIONS

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Divide mixture evenly in mini muffin pan cups or an ice-cube tray. Freeze at least 2 hours. Let sit 10 minutes at room temperature before eating.

Nutrition Facts (per serving = 1 bite): calories 37, fat 1 g, protein 2 g, sodium 12 mg, carbs 5 g, fiber 0 g, sugar 3 g

Make-Ahead Yogurt Parfaits

Make-Ahead Yogurt Parfaits

Makes: 5 Servings

Prep Time: 10 Minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1¼ cups diced fruit of choice
  • 1¼ cups low-sugar granola
  • 1 (32-oz) container nonfat plain Greek yogurt

DIRECTIONS

To each container, add ¼ cup fruit and ¼ cup granola and top with 6 ounces yogurt. Cover tightly and refrigerate.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 238, fat 2 g, protein 21 g, sodium 178 mg, carbs 34 g, fiber 3 g, sugar 14 g

Smooth Move

Are smoothies your jam? You can make these ahead, as well. Fill a baggie with your favorite smoothie ingredients — Greek yogurt, fruit, spinach, protein powder, flaxseeds, etc. When you’re ready to eat, just dump the contents into your blender and whip away. You also can make a large batch of smoothie ahead of time and portion it out into small freezer bags, ice-cube trays or muffin tins for use later on.

Stock Your Staples

To go with the Make-Ahead Recipes and Meal Plan, you’ll need to execute these tasks:

  • Hard-boil a dozen large eggs.
  • Steam 1½ cups of dry brown rice.
  • Cook 1 cup dry high-protein pasta.
  • Steam 5 to 8 cups veggies of choice.

Make-Ahead Meal Plan

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Toast is not just for breakfast anymore. Here’s how to turn a humble piece of bread into a crispy, fuss-free power meal, day or night.

Just the smell of toast is enough to make anyone’s mouth water, and now this breakfast staple is topping trendy restaurant menus across the country, starring in main courses to be eaten with a fork and knife. And why not? A great slice of bread is the perfect canvas on which to layer unique, nutritious ingredients that go way beyond butter. If you ask us, the toast trend is the best thing since, well, you know! Time to break bread!

Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C and manganese and also contain a decent amount of folate (vitamin B9) and potassium.

PB&J Yogurt Parfait Toast

Hands-On Time: 15 Minutes

Cook Time: 7 Minutes

Makes: 4 Servings

This grown-up version of PB&J reminiscent of a parfait includes Greek yogurt for muscle-friendly protein and strawberries for a payload of vitamin C. What’s more, the hefty amounts of soluble fiber in the chia seeds helps thicken the jam, keeping your blood sugar on an even keel all morning long.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups strawberries, quartered
  • 3 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1½ cups plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 slices toast
  • ½ cup all-natural peanut butter
  • 4 tbsp cacao nibs (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Place strawberries in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until they begin to break down, about 5 minutes. Mash into a chunky puree. Stir in chia seeds, honey and lemon juice and cook another 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool at least 1 hour to thicken. In a small bowl, combine yogurt and vanilla. Spread 2 tablespoons peanut butter on each slice of toast. Layer on vanilla yogurt and strawberry jam. Sprinkle with cacao nibs (if using).

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 417 calories, fat 23 g, carbs 38 g, fiber 11 g, sugar 16 g, protein 22 g, sodium 153 mg

Switch Hits

  • Use raspberries instead of strawberries.
  • Swap almond or cashew butter for peanut butter.
  • Trade Greek yogurt for Skyr.
For sunny-side up eggs, cook until whites are set and outer edges start to curl. For over-easy, flip and cook an additional 30 seconds.

Huevos Rancheros Toast

Hands-On Time: 20 Minutes

Cook Time: 5 Minutes

Makes: 4 Servings

This hearty Mexican farm staple features tortillas and eggs adorned with warm salsa — and this toast version is just as satisfying. The pinto beans contain satiating fiber, the avocados deliver heart-healthy fat and a tomato-based salsa brings a super dose of the anti-cancer antioxidant lycopene to the breakfast table.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 can (15 oz) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
  • juice of ½ lime
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp canola or grapeseed oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 slices toast
  • 1 cup salsa, warmed
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/3 cup sliced cilantro

DIRECTIONS

Place pinto beans, avocados, lime juice and salt in a food processor container and pulse until chunky. Place a small nonstick pan over medium-low heat. Add oil and swirl to coat. Carefully crack eggs into skillet. For sunny-side up, cook until whites are set and outer edges start to curl. For over-easy, flip and cook an additional 30 seconds. Spread bean mixture on toast, and top each with 1 egg and salsa. Sprinkle on cheese and cilantro.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 422 calories, fat 24 g, carbs 31 g, fiber 10 g, sugar 4 g, protein 23 g, sodium 640 mg

Switch Hits

  • Use black beans instead of pinto beans.
  • Sprinkle on grated havarti in lieu of Monterey Jack.
  • Replace store-bought salsa with homemade pico de gallo.

Pork and Minty Pea Hummus Toast

Hands-On Time: 20 Minutes

Cook Time: 18 Minutes

Makes: 4 Servings

Vibrant and savory, this open-faced sandwich delivers some serious lunchtime gastro magic. The pork tenderloin is a fantastic source of lean protein, while the peas and red peppers deliver an immune-boosting dose of vitamin C. Bonus: The pea mixture is quick and easy to make and, along with the pork, can be prepared a few days ahead of time.

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 slices toast
  • 1 cup roasted red peppers, sliced

Pork

  • 1 lb pork tenderloin
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Pea Hummus

  • 1½ cups fresh or frozen (thawed) peas
  • ½ cup fresh mint
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ¼ tsp cayenne
  • ¼ tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper

DIRECTIONS

Heat oven to 400 F. Place pork on a greased or parchment-paper-lined baking sheet. Season with salt and black pepper. Roast until pork reaches an internal temperature of at least 145 F, about 18 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes, then slice into ½-inch rounds. Place peas, mint, tahini, lemon zest, lemon juice, shallots, garlic, cayenne, cumin, and salt and pepper in a food processor container and blend until slightly chunky. Spread pea hummus on toast. Top with pork slices and roasted red peppers.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 299, fat 8 g, carbs 26 g, fiber 6 g, sugar 5 g, protein 32 g, sodium 434 mg

Switch Hits

  • Swap pork for chicken or turkey.
  • Use basil instead of mint.
  • Replace roasted red peppers with Peppadews.
Zesty salmon toast recipe.

Zesty Salmon Toast

Hands-On Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 12 Minutes

Makes: 4 Servings

This riff on a traditional bagel and lox is guaranteed to bid adieu to your #saddesklunch. Salmon supplies plenty of mood-boosting omega-3 fats, and according to a study published in Pharmacognosy Reviews, the quercetin in onions helps reduce inflammation. As for the arugula, it contains a host of nutrients, including vitamin K for strong bones and vitamin A for improved immunity.

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 slices toast
  • 1 cucumber, shaved into ribbon

Salmon

  • 1 lb salmon fillets
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper

Onions

  • 1 cup red onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt

Cream Cheese Spread

  • 1/3 cup cream cheese
  • 2 tbsp dill, chopped
  • 2 tbsp horseradish
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 2 tsp lemon zest

Salad

  • 2 cups arugula
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp olive oil

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 325 F. Place salmon on a greased baking sheet and season with salt and black pepper. Bake 12 minutes, or until flesh is barely cooked through in the center. When cool, gently break into 2-inch chunks. Place onions, lemon juice, sugar and salt in a bowl. With your hands, massage onions until tender and pink, about 2 minutes. Chill until ready to use. In a separate bowl, combine cream cheese, dill, horseradish, capers and lemon zest. In a larger bowl, toss arugula with vinegar, olive oil and salt. Spread cream cheese mixture on toast. Top with arugula, cucumbers, salmon and red onions.

Tip: Make this salmon and cream cheese mixture up to two days in advance.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 488, fat 27 g, carbs 21 g, fiber 4 g, sugar 6 g, protein 30 g, sodium 625 mg

Switch Hits

  • Top with rainbow trout instead of salmon.
  • Replace cucumbers with shaved asparagus.
  • Swap cream cheese for softened goat cheese.
Use sweet potatoes as a “toast” to reduce the starchy calories of bread and replace them with a bevy of beneficial nutrients.

Butter Chickpea Sweet Potato Toast

Hands-On Time: 25 Minutes

Cook Time: 20 Minutes

Makes: 4 Servings

As a “toast,” sweet potatoes reduce the starchy calories of bread and replace them with a bevy of beneficial nutrients, including immune-revving beta carotene, which research has also shown slows cognitive decline. The chickpeas provide a ton of plant protein and fiber, and cashew butter delivers important micronutrients such as iron to form red blood cells, and copper and phosphorous for improved tissue repair.

INGREDIENTS

Sweet Potatoes

  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 2 tsp canola oil, divided
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Chickpea Mixture

  • 2 tsp canola oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • ¼ tsp cayenne
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup unsalted raw or roasted cashew butter
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 3 cups canned or cooked chickpeas
  • 3 cups baby spinach
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • ¼ cup unsalted roasted pumpkin seeds

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Trim ends off sweet potatoes and cut lengthwise into ¼-inch slices. Place slices on baking sheet in a single layer, brush tops with 1 teaspoon oil and season with salt. Roast 10 minutes, flip, brush with remaining oil and cook another 10 minutes, or until fork-tender. Meanwhile, heat 2 teaspoons oil over medium in a large skillet. Add garlic, curry powder, garam masala, cayenne, salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds. Add tomatoes and bring to boil, then reduce to simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, about 12 minutes. Add cashew butter and water and stir until smooth. Add chickpeas and cook until heated through, then stir in spinach and cilantro. Top sweet potato toast with chickpea mixture. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 524, fat 24 g, carbs 61 g, fiber 14 g, sugar 7 g, protein 21 g, sodium 586 mg

Switch Hits

  • Stir in baby kale instead of spinach.
  • Use navy beans in lieu of chickpeas.
  • Trade cashew butter for sunflower butter.

Chicken Potpie Tartine

Hands-On Time: 20 Minutes

Cook Time: 14 Minutes

Makes: 4 Servings

This deconstructed chicken potpie will make you feel all cozy inside — and is way easier to make than the traditional version. The mushrooms and chicken thighs contain selenium, which helps boost immunity and prevent cell damage, and the asparagus is loaded with vitamin K to prevent heart disease as well as potassium, which has been shown to reduce blood pressure.

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 tsp canola oil, divided
  • 1 lb boneless chicken thighs
  • 3 cups sliced cremini mushrooms
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2½ cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 medium carrot, sliced
  • 2 cups asparagus, chopped
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 4 slices toast
  • 1/3 cup parsley, chopped

DIRECTIONS

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium. Add chicken and heat until cooked through, flipping once, about 5 minutes per side. Remove from pan. When cool enough to handle, slice into strips. Add remaining oil to pan, then add mushrooms and heat until softened, about 4 minutes. Sprinkle in flour and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add stock, carrots, asparagus, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper and simmer 5 minutes, or until asparagus is tender and sauce has thickened. Add cooked chicken and heat through. Top toast with chicken mixture and sprinkle with parsley.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 320, fat 11 g, carbs 25 g, fiber 5 g, sugar 4 g, protein 21 g, sodium 628 mg

Switch Hits

  • Swap asparagus for green peas.
  • Use turkey instead of chicken.
  • Replace Italian seasoning with herbes de Provence.

Blueberry Cheesecake Toast

Hands-On Time: 15 Minutes

Cook Time: 8 Minutes

Makes: 4 Servings

Toast also can be a great base for a dessert (or a decadent breakfast), and this combo of ricotta and blueberry sauce makes for a crave-worthy treat. Blueberries contain anthocyanin for cognitive health, and one serving of ricotta supplies more than a quarter of your daily calcium. What’s more, pistachios provide plenty of vitamin B6, which is needed for proper protein metabolism.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (thawed)
  • 2 tbsp honey or maple syrup
  • 2 tsp orange zest
  • juice of ½ orange
  • pinch salt
  • 2 tsp cornstarch or arrowroot powder
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 slices toast
  • ¼ cup chopped pistachios
  • 1 oz dark chocolate, grated

DIRECTIONS

Add blueberries, honey, orange zest, orange juice and pinch salt to a small saucepan and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 5 minutes. Dissolve cornstarch in water, then stir into blueberry mixture. Simmer 3 minutes, or until mixture thickens. In a small bowl, stir together ricotta and vanilla. Spread ricotta on toast. Top with warm blueberry sauce, pistachios and chocolate.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 280, fat 10 g, carbs 39 g, fiber 6 g, sugar 20 g, protein 11 g, sodium 262 mg

Switch Hits

  • Swap blueberries for blackberries.
  • Replace ricotta with cottage cheese.
  • Trade toasted almonds for pistachios.
For a restaurant-worthy golden crust, spread a little mayonnaise on both sides of your bread before pan toasting!

Toasting Techniques

There’s more than one way to toast your loaf. Start with bread sliced to 1-inch thickness, then use one of these methods for crispy, crunchy perfection.

Pan Toasting

Add enough oil to a skillet (preferably cast-iron) to cover the bottom and heat over medium. Place 1 slice of bread in pan and cook until golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes per side.

Grill Toasting

Heat a grill to medium and grease the grates. Brush both sides of bread with oil. Place slices on grill and heat until crispy and grill marks form, about 1 minute per side.

Oven Toasting

Heat oven to 350 F. Brush both sides of bread with oil and place on a metal rack set inside a baking sheet. Bake until crisp and lightly golden, about 10 minutes. For added flavor, try an herbed oil.

Bread Winners

Any way you slice them, these breads rise above the rest.

Whole-Wheat

This bread contains more fiber and micronutrients than the white version, and research shows that whole-grain foods can help reduce your risk for heart disease and diabetes. Look for a product that says 100 percent whole-wheat or 100 percent whole-grain (with whole-grain flour listed as the first ingredient), no more than 150 milligrams of sodium and less than 3 grams of sugar per slice.

Sprouted

These next-level slices use germinated (sprouted) whole grains, giving the bread a nuttier flavor and adding tons of vitamins, protein and good-for-you fats. It’s also easier to digest: The sprouting process removes anti-nutrients and causes less of a blood sugar spike than other bread products.

Sourdough

The quintessential tang of this loaf comes from a bacteria-rich starter used to kick-start fermentation — a process that creates taste-boosting compounds, slows digestion, reduces gluten and cuts phytic acid levels for better nutrient absorption.

Rye

A single slice of this hearty bread can have up to 5 grams of fiber, and according to a study published in the journal Nutrients, it may help reduce bodyweight and improve insulin sensitivity as compared to wheat products. Look for a loaf listing whole-rye flour/meal as the first ingredient.

Low-Carb/Alternative Breads

Many brands now offer options using ingredients like almond flour, oat bran, egg whites, flax meal and coconut flour to appease the Paleo and keto crowds. Read labels carefully to avoid added sugar.

Bogus Bread?

Always pay close attention to ingredients: A bread labeled “sourdough” could be made with sourdough flavoring rather than an actual sourdough starter. An authentic sourdough will not contain yeast in the ingredient list, since the starter itself causes the bread to rise and should contain no preservatives.

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Calling all fans of brinner (breakfast for dinner)! This sweet and savory recipe is filling enough for any meal of the day.

Sweet potatoes and yams are often used interchangeably, but they belong to different plant families. Yams are moister and have more variety in shape and color than sweet potatoes.

Sweet potatoes are a rich source of the antioxidant beta carotene, which can help slow the aging process and support strong immunity. Because of their high concentration of nutrients, sweet potatoes are a potent anti-inflammatory food and can help ward off muscle tissue damage related to overtraining or intense sessions at the gym. Try these pancakes for breakfast or any time of day.

Buttermilk Sweet Potato & Sausage Pancakes Recipe

Makes: 4 servings

Serving size: 3 pancakes, ¼ cup apple slices and 1 tablespoon syrup

Total time: 30 minutes (plus potato roasting time)

Ingredients

  • 2 links sweet apple chicken sausage, such as All Natural Al Fresco brand, diced
  • 1 cup cooked and mashed sweet potato*
  • 1¾ cups buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
  • 1½ cups all-purpose or white whole-wheat flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  •  ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • ½ small red apple, cored and thinly sliced
  • 4 tablespoons maple syrup

Directions

  1. In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, cook diced chicken sausage until browned, about five minutes. Remove from heat, transfer sausage to a bowl, wipe out skillet with paper towels and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together sweet potato, buttermilk, egg, vanilla and oil. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Stir dry ingredients into sweet potato mixture until combined. Whisk in ¼ cup water to thin the batter.
  3. Place same skillet over medium-low heat or heat an electric griddle to medium-low. Working in batches, cook ¼-cup portions of batter, gently smoothing with the back of a spoon into even rounds. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of the cooked sausage over each round. Continue cooking until bubbles appear on the surface and the edges are dry; carefully flip over pancakes and cook an additional two minutes or until browned. Repeat with remaining batter and sausage to make 12 pancakes total.
  4. To serve, stack three pancakes on each of four plates. Top each serving with thin slices of apple, remaining cooked sausage and 1 tablespoon maple syrup. Serve warm.

Nutrition facts (per serving): calories 426, total fat 9 g, saturated fat 2 g, trans fat 0 g, sodium 750 mg, carbs 70 g, fiber 3 g, sugar 19 g, protein 15 g

*Bake 1 large sweet potato directly on rack of a 450-degree oven for 50 to 60 minutes, or until tender. Peel and purée. Or substitute with 1 cup canned sweet potato purée.

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