Delicious, healthy and easy to make, this tilapia dish is a physique-friendly meal.

Seafood is a great protein for supporting lean muscle and reducing body fat. Plus, eating 8 ounces of seafood a week reduces your risk of hear disease. Tilapia, a mild white fish, is high in protein (it contains about 26 grams in a 3.5-ounce serving), low in calories and a great source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Roasted Tilapia with Baby Potatoes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound baby potatoes, halved
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • ¼ teaspoon each sea salt and ground pepper
  • 2 ½ tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • 4 4-ounce tilapia fillets
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ cup pitted kalamata olives
  • ½ cup red peppers, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon capers

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat oven to 400°F. In a large baking dish, toss potatoes with lemon, salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons oil.
  2. Arrange potatoes in a single layer. Put into oven and roast, tossing once, until potatoes soften, about 20 minutes.
  3. Drizzle tilapia with remaining oil, season with paprika and tuck into the potato mixture. Bake for 10 minutes.
  4. Toss olives, red peppers and capers into the potato mixture.
  5. Continue to roast for another 15 minutes, until the fish is opaque and the potatoes turn golden brown. Remove from oven and serve.

Nutrients per serving: Calories: 295, Total Fat: 12 g, Saturated Fat: 2 g, Trans Fat: 0 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 438 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 23 g, Dietary Fiber: 4 g, Sugars: 3 g, Protein: 25 g, Iron: 2 mg

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Try this fresh-from-the-oven indulgence that won’t wreck your waistline.

Flourless Chocolate Whey Cookies Recipe

Ready in: 35 minutes

Makes: 14 servings

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 scoops chocolate whey protein powder
  • 1½ cups cooked chickpeas
  • ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons agave nectar
  • ½ cup natural almond butter
  • 5 pitted dates
  • ¼ cup warm water
  • 1 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ cup egg whites
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place a sheet of parchment paper over a baking sheet.
  2. Blend all ingredients, except coconut, in a food processor until smooth. You may need to stop to scrape the sides.
  3. Toast coconut in a small frying pan set over medium-low heat until lightly golden, then add to processor and pulse until combined.
  4. Spoon batter into 14 heaps on baking sheet, spacing evenly.
  5. Bake 24 to 26 minutes, then allow to cool on a wire rack.

Nutrients per serving (1 cookie): Calories: 180, Total Fats: 8 g, Saturated Fat: 2 g, Trans Fat: 0 g, Cholesterol: 22 mg, Sodium: 65 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 22 g, Dietary Fiber: 3 g, Sugars: 14 g, Protein: 8 g, Iron: 2 mg

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Blenders aren’t just for making smoothies. This kitchen workhorse can help you prepare healthy meals from breakfast through dinner.

The trusty countertop appliance known as the blender might be a champ at whizzing together your postworkout recovery shakes, but if you use it for little more than blitzing protein powder with frozen berries, you’re seriously selling this gizmo short.

A blender can be a multitasking kitchen workhorse if there ever was one. From pancakes to burgers to waistline-friendly desserts, those blades are ready to help you whip up ultra-fast healthy and delicious around-the-clock meals that go way beyond frosty drinks. To bring you up to speed on the versatility of your blender, start by mixing up these recipes, which prove that it’s a fit girl’s BFF.

Salmon burgers

Salmon Burgers With Mango Salsa

Makes: 4 servings

Serving size: 1 burger

Total time: 25 minutes

Hands-on time: 20 minutes

Using a blender to whip up these burgers and salsa saves you a bunch of chopping time. And swapping out the beef for salmon helps you net a boatload of mega-healthy omega-3 fats — the superhero fats shown to help those who train hard reduce the severity of post-exercise muscle pain.

Mango breathes new life into salsa and infuses this dish with plenty of vitamin C. Needed for the production of carnitine, a compound involved in fat burning during exercise, vitamin C plays an important role in melting the chub.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1¼ lb skinless center-cut wild salmon, chopped into 1-inch chunks 
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 6 large basil leaves
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp lime zest
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ black pepper
  • 1 mango, peeled and quartered
  • 1 red bell pepper, quartered
  • 2 green onions, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and sliced
  • 1/3 cup cilantro
  • juice of ½ lime
  • ¼ cup coconut flakes
  • 1 tbsp grapeseed oil or canola oil
  • 4 cups arugula

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place salmon, egg, breadcrumbs, basil, mustard, lime zest, salt and black pepper in blender container and pulse several times until you have a chunky mixture. Form into four patties.
  2. Wash blender container and place mango, red peppers, green onions, jalapeños, cilantro, lime juice and couple pinches of salt in container. Pulse several times until you have a chunky mixture. Do not puree. Stir in coconut flakes.
  3. Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Place salmon burgers in heated skillet and cook about three minutes on each side, or until crispy on the outside but just barely cooked through in the middle.
  4. Divide arugula among serving plates and top with salmon burgers and salsa.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 493, total fat 30 g, carbs 23 g, fiber 4 g, sugar 11 g, protein 33 g, sodium 355 mg

Chicken Spinach Egg Pie

Chicken Spinach Egg Pie

Makes: 4 servings

Serving size: ¼ of pie

Total time: 40 minutes

Hands-on time: 15 minutes

Eggs and chicken team up to give each slice of this dinnerworthy savory pie enough protein to aid in building a lean, mean physique. And since an American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study found that eating eggs may boost brainpower, blending the orbs together for a quick meal seems like an even smarter idea.

Sending spinach for a ride in your blender can help you enjoy more birthdays. That’s because it contains a wallop of vitamin K, a nutrient shown to help lessen the chances of falling prey to deadly diseases like cancer and heart disease. You also can use frozen spinach for this recipe — just make sure to thaw and squeeze out excess moisture.

This same recipe can be made using a muffin pan for individual (and portable) pies. Simply divide the mixture among greased or paper-lined standard-size muffin cups and bake in a 400-degree oven for about 20 minutes, or until eggs are set.

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 large eggs
  • ½ cup sour cream 
  • 3 cups spinach, ends trimmed
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cayenne
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 2 cups chopped cooked chicken
  • ¼ cup chopped chives 
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line bottom of 8-inch-round cake pan with parchment paper and grease sides.
  2. Place eggs, sour cream, spinach, mustard, salt, cayenne and pepper in blender container and blend until spinach is pulverized. Pulse in chicken and chives.
  3. Place egg mixture in prepared pan, scatter on cherry tomatoes and bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until center of pie is set. Let cool a few minutes before slicing.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 266, total fat 12 g, carbs 6 g, fiber 1 g, sugar 5 g, protein 33 g, sodium 507 mg

Beet Soup With Avocado Crema

Beet Soup With Avocado Crema

Makes: 4 servings

Serving size: 5

Total time: 25 minutes

Hands-on time: 20 minutes

The naturally occurring nitrates in beets appear to improve blood flow, which can boost exercise performance and lower blood-pressure numbers. To cook beets, trim ends, place them in a shallow baking dish and add water until it reaches about ½-inch up the sides of the vegetables. Cover with foil, crimping edges to make a tight seal, and bake in a 400-degree oven until a skewer poked through the foil easily pierces flesh, 50 to 60 minutes. When cool enough to handle, rub off skins with a paper towel. Or you can now find precooked beets in most supermarket produce aisles.

For great health, it’s a good idea to include more plant proteins like tofu in your daily menu. A study in the British Journal of Nutrition found that higher intakes of plant protein can be protective against developing diabetes, whereas higher intakes of animal protein — processed red meats like bacon in particular — can raise the risk for this disease. Tofu, beans and other plant proteins bring with them a powerful bundle of disease-thwarting nutrients and antioxidants.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 block soft tofu 
  • 3 medium-size cooked beets 
  • 1 cup jarred roasted red peppers
  • ½ cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme 
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 1 small avocado
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • ¼ cup roasted pumpkin seeds

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place broth, ½ block tofu, beets, roasted peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, thyme, lemon zest, garlic, salt, chili powder and black pepper in blender and blend until smooth. Transfer to saucepan and heat on medium until warmed through. If you have a powerful blender, you can let it run until the mixture is steaming hot.
  2. Wash out blender container. Place ½ block tofu, avocado, olive oil, lemon juice and couple pinches of salt in container and blend until smooth. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, if needed, to help mixture blend into a smooth consistency.
  3. Serve bowls of warmed soup topped with avocado cream and pumpkin seeds.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 254, total fat 19 g, carbs 16 g, fiber 5 g, sugar 7 g, protein 10 g, sodium 273 mg

Sweet Potato Pancakes With Blueberry Yogurt

Sweet Potato Pancakes With Blueberry Yogurt

Makes: 4 servings

Serving size: 3 pancakes

Total time: 25 minutes

Hands-on time: 15 minutes

Pureed sweet potato lends a stack of pancakes natural sweetness, vibrant color and a wallop of beta carotene. In the body, beta carotene is converted to vitamin A, which works to improve immune health and fortify bone strength. Forgoing the butter and maple syrup treatment for a berry-yogurt sauce adds muscle-building protein and health-hiking antioxidants.

This batter can be made up to two days in advance. Whip everything together and then chill covered in the refrigerator until needed. It’s best to let batter rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before using. 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 medium-size sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • ½ cup almond flour
  • 1½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup blueberries

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place sweet potato cubes and 1 tablespoon water in microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and poke a few holes in plastic to allow for venting. Microwave on high six minutes, or until potato is easily pierced with a knife. Let potatoes cool a few minutes.
  2. Place milk, eggs, sweet potato cubes, oats, almond flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda and salt in blender container and blend until smooth. Blend in additional milk if mixture is too thick. Pulse in walnuts, if using.
  3. Pour ¼ cup batter for each pancake into greased skillet and cook over medium heat for two minutes. Flip and cook an additional one minute. Keep prepared pancakes warm in a 200-degree oven while preparing remaining batter.
  4. Wash out blender container. Place yogurt and blueberries in container and blend together. Serve pancakes topped with blueberry-yogurt sauce.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 291, total fat 11 g, carbs 34 g, fiber 5 g, sugar 10 g, protein 16 g, sodium 75 mg

Mocha Black Bean Cakes With Cashew Cream

Mocha Black Bean Cakes With Cashew Cream

Makes: 12 servings

Serving size: 1 cake

Total time: 80 minutes

Hands-on time: 30 minutes

The stealth addition of beans to this guilt-free dessert gives the cakes a fudgy texture and hunger-quelling fiber. We promise there’s enough rich chocolaty flavor and natural sweetness from the dates that you’ll forget you blended beans into the batter in the first place.

When soaked and then blended with coffee, buttery cashews turn into a decadent cream that replaces the lofty saturated fat numbers with those from heart-boosting monounsaturated fat. A 2017 study found in the pages of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition determined that adding about a daily handful of cashews to a typical American diet can trim cholesterol numbers.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 11/3 cups hot coffee
  • ¾ cup pitted dates
  • ¾ cup unsweetened (natural)
  • cocoa powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ cup canola oil or melted coconut oil
  • 1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup oat flour or whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1½ tsp cinnamon 
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1½ cups raspberries

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place cashews in bowl, cover with water and soak for at least two hours.
  2. Place 1 cup coffee, dates and cocoa powder in blender container and let rest 30 minutes. Add eggs, oil, beans, flour, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, baking soda and salt to container and blend until smooth, about one minute.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Divide mixture among 12 greased or paper-lined muffin cups. Bake 18 minutes, or until centers of cakes are just barely cooked through. Let cool a few minutes before unmolding and cooling further on metal rack.
  4. Drain cashews and place in clean blender container along with 1/3 cup coffee, maple syrup, 1 teaspoon vanilla and ½ teaspoon cinnamon. Blend until smooth.
  5. To serve, spread some cashew sauce on serving plate, top with warmed bean cake and scatter on raspberries.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 197, total fat 11 g, carbs 23 g, fiber 5 g, sugar 9 g, protein 6 g, sodium 66 mg 

Spik-and-Span

For speedy cleanup, let your blender wash itself. Add a squirt of dish soap to a dirty container, fill halfway with hot water, and then simply blend until sudsy and the food grime has been dislodged from container sides. Just make sure to rinse out any lingering soap so your next blended meal doesn’t taste like Palmolive.

Rise of the Machine/Mix Master

If you plan on giving your blender daily workouts, forget the dated Oster. You want a machine with a bigger engine. From soups to pancake batters to DIY nut butters, the mega-powerful Vitamix Professional Series 750 is up to the challenge. Yes, its $600 price tag is hard to swallow at first, but once you tap into its horsepower several times a day for years to come to whip up nearly anything you can throw at it, the Mercedes-Benz of blenders seems like a bargain. It even comes with several nifty preprogrammed settings to handle frozen desserts and hot soups.

Follow the Leader

Dump stuff in the container, blend it and eat it. Right? Not so fast. To help make blending a breeze, place liquids like milk, broth and eggs in the blender container first followed by harder items such as vegetables, flour and nuts. This way, the liquid in the bottom will absorb the solids for, well, smoother blending and also keep the machine from overheating during tougher blending jobs (hello, smoothie bowls!).

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As is evident from their silhouette, parsnips are a close relative of carrots but with a sweeter, nuttier taste.

Though they aren’t as popular as their orange cousin, parsnips are super-versatile root veggies and can be eaten boiled, baked, mashed, spiralized or raw. Choose parsnips that are on the smaller side because they are sweeter and more tender, then try them these five ways.

They look like chubby carrots in need of some sun, but parsnips might just become your new favorite veggie.

As a Fiberful Snack

Parsnips have soluble and insoluble fiber, which have been shown to lower blood cholesterol, reducing the chances of developing diabetes. Fiber also helps prevent the release of ghrelin — the hunger hormone that tells your brain to eat — reducing the likelihood of snacking between meals. Substitute cooked and pureed parsnips for chickpeas in your favorite hummus recipe and serve with carrots for the ultimate fibrous snack!

Dice parsnips into a vegetable soup to get your daily fix.

As a Smile-Friendly Soup

Parsnips are high in folate, which most people know as an essential compound in the prevention of birth defects. But folate also helps prevent gum disease and gingivitis, giving you that healthy 100-watt smile. Each ½-cup serving of cooked parsnips contains 45 micrograms of folate, equal to about 11 percent of the Recommended Daily Allowance. Dice two parsnips into a soup made with vegetable or chicken stock, canned tomatoes, carrots, celery, garlic, parsley, onions and dill to get your daily fix.

As a Calorie-Slashing Mash

Combine mashed parsnips with your traditional holiday potatoes to cut the calories in half and beef up the fiber content.

As an Energizing Add-In

Parsnips contain copper, a trace mineral that is essential for the production of ATP in your cells. Shred raw parsnips and add to coleslaw, or spiralize them onto your preworkout or postworkout salad to boost the energy factor while adding a distinctive sweet-tasting crunch.

Add parsnips into a root vegetable roast.

As a Recovery Root Roast

Potassium is plentiful in parsnips, which acts as a vasodilator, helping deliver oxygen and nutrients quickly to your muscles while helping flush out toxins and assisting with recovery. Take 5 to 6 cups of raw, diced root veggies (parsnips, carrots, rutabaga, potatoes) and toss with three cloves of minced garlic, ½ cup of white wine, 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh thyme, olive oil and a dash of vinegar. Spread evenly in a single layer in a roasting pan and bake at 450 degrees for 45 minutes, stirring often for even cooking.

Calorie-Slashing Mash

Makes: 4 servings

  • 2 lb parsnips, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces (6 medium)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • ½ tsp salt

Bring large pot of water to a boil. Add parsnips and cook until very soft, about 15 to 20 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer parsnips to food processor, reserving the cooking water. Add olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and puree until smooth. Add cooking water as needed if the mixture is too thick.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 211, carbs 36 g, fat 7.5 g, fiber 9 g, protein 2 g, sodium 310, sugar 10 g

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Love baked goods in the morning? This pumpkin muffin is packed with healthy ingredients to start your day off right.

Pumpkin Morning Glory Muffins

Ingredients

  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin spice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 6 eggs
  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup pumpkin purée
  • 1 apple, cored, peeled and grated
  • 1½ cups carrot, peeled and grated
  • ½ cup walnuts, chopped
  • ½ cup pitted dates, chopped
  • ¼ cup sunflower seeds
  • Dash unrefined sea salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a muffin tin with paper cups or lightly coat with cooking spray.
  2. Mix the first 4 ingredients and the sea salt, in a large bowl. Stir in apples, carrots, walnuts, dates and sunflower seeds until well combined.
  3. Beat wet ingredients together in a separate large bowl. Add flour mixture to wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
  4. Fill muffin cups and bake 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Nutrients per serving: 230 calories, 17 g total fat, 10 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 17 g total carbohydrates, 4 g dietary fiber, 11 g sugar, 5 g protein

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Maximize your health, physique and athleticism with these seven essential micronutrients.

You can’t go wrong by taking a multivitamin/mineral supplement every day. However, if you’re active and athletic, that might not be enough — especially if you’re training at a high intensity. Active women tend to need higher dosages of certain vitamins and minerals than a standard multi provides, and coming up short on these needed elements could mean diminished results in strength, recovery and fat loss.

These seven micro-nutrients are crucial for women looking to maximize their health, physique goals and athletic achievements. Add good whole-food sources to your regular diet of clean eating, and consider supplementing with these stand-alone vitamins and minerals where you might be diet deficient.

Consider supplementing these vitamins and minerals where you might be diet deficient.

Vitamin C

Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C is a powerful water-soluble antioxidant that works to rid the body of harmful free radicals, thereby supporting faster recovery from exercise. It also bolsters your immune system to stave off short- and long-term adverse events such as colds, infections and even some forms of cancer. It helps support connective tissue, keeps capillaries healthy and aids the absorption of iron, which as you know is particularly important for women, especially around that time of the month. And since iron is also a component of hemoglobin, vitamin C becomes vital for those who work out intensely to efficiently deliver oxygen to working cells.

Timing and Dosage

Because your body cannot synthesize or store vitamin C, it must be a part of your regular dietary intake, so aim for at least 500 milligrams per day from both food and supplementary sources. You can take up to 2,000 milligrams a day for additional recovery and immunity support, but build up slowly because large doses often cause diarrhea.

Good whole-food sources: Strawberries, pineapple, kohlrabi and Brussels sprouts.

Salmon — along with herring, sardines, egg yolks and mushrooms — is a good source of vitamin D.

Vitamin D

This fat-soluble antioxidant is one that your body can synthesize in the presence of sunlight, and along with calcium, it is critical for bone health. According to research, vitamin D helps regulate insulin levels, leading to improved fat loss and muscle building for active women. Those seeking to support increases in lean muscle tissue should emphasize vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) because this form encourages the production of the hormones that support this goal.

Timing and Dosage

Take 400 to 1,000 IU twice daily with whole-food meals.

Good whole-food sources: Salmon, herring, sardines, egg yolks and mushrooms.

Folate

Folate (B9) is a crucial water-soluble vitamin, and in its synthetic form, it is known as folic acid. When ingested, it converts to L-methylfolate, a compound that encourages the production of new cells by helping your body replicate DNA and RNA. It also helps replace damaged cells with new, healthy ones, making it beneficial for women who are pregnant or those seeking to recover or grow from intense workouts. Consider taking folate or folic acid with arginine, an amino acid that encourages production of nitric oxide, to increase the flow of blood and nutrients to the muscles you’re training.

Timing and Dosage

For best results, take 400 to 800 micrograms of folate or folic acid one to two times a day.

Good whole-food sources: Garbanzo beans, liver, lentils and avocado.

Calcium supports bone health.

Calcium

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the human body, and it is crucial for many physiological processes. One of the most important roles calcium plays for women is supporting bone health. When you are deficient, your body removes calcium from bones to support intense workouts, putting you at greater risk for fractures and other bone-related injuries — even osteoporosis down the line. Calcium is also an electrolyte, helping regulate heart rate and blood pressure and improving the speed and intensity of muscle contractions, which makes for better workouts.

Timing and Dosage

Take 500 to 600 milligrams two to four times a day with food or between meals. Avoid taking stand-alone calcium with other minerals such as magnesium and zinc because these minerals compete for absorption.

Good whole-food sources: Dairy, chia and sesame seeds, sardines, beans and lentils.

Iron

Iron is a mineral primarily associated with healthy red blood cell production and the delivery of oxygen to working cells. Iron also helps generate adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in muscle cells, which is crucial for driving muscle contractions: The harder you train, the more ATP must be replaced in order to continue at intensity. Women have a greater need than men for iron, particularly because of blood loss during that time of the month, and one of the first indications of iron deficiency is a decrease in brain function: You may feel sluggish or depressed and may have trouble with cognitive processing. If these symptoms occur, then bump up your iron intake and talk to your doctor.

Timing and Dosage

Get in at least 18 milligrams of iron each day through diet, a multivitamin or a stand-alone supplement.

Good whole-food sources: Turkey, chicken, soybeans, spinach and beef.

Magnesium

Despite the fact that we have a large need for magnesium, this mineral is not rich in our diets because not a lot of food sources contain it in abundance. This mineral is also readily lost through sweat, and very active women might be deficient, leading to muscular weakness, fatigue and even insulin resistance. As with calcium, magnesium plays a key role in maintaining bone and heart health, and of particular interest to athletic women, studies show that magnesium may help reduce cortisol, the stress hormone that delays recovery. Taking magnesium before bed may promote deeper sleep, according to research: It helps regulate neurotransmitters and the production of melatonin, the primary hormone that helps you sleep.

Timing and Dosage

Take in 300 milligrams of magnesium per day — including one dose right before bedtime — in the absence of calcium, which could impede absorption. 

Good whole-food sources: Buckwheat flour, trail mix, oat bran and halibut.

Oysters are a great source of zinc.

Zinc

Like iron and vitamin C, zinc supports your body’s ability to make hemoglobin, facilitates cell growth and replicates genes. It has been shown in clinical trials to raise the levels of the hormones that promote lean muscle gains and increase metabolism while also helping destroy free radicals, supporting faster recovery from intense exercise. As an antioxidant, zinc supports immune function and the healing of wounds, and it works as a powerful anti-inflammatory and recovery aid. Active women should consider taking zinc as a stand-alone or in a ZMA supplement — a combination of zinc and magnesium that is best taken on an empty stomach before bedtime.

Timing and Dosage

Women should get in at least 8 milligrams of zinc per day through food and supplementation but can take up to 20 milligrams. As with magnesium, zinc is best supplemented in the absence of calcium.

Good whole-food sources: Oysters, beef, crab, lamb, baked beans and dark chocolate.

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Overtrained or underfed: How to tell the difference, and what to do to get back on track.

Let’s say you have a friend who has been training consistently for a long period of time. She never misses a workout, and every time she trains, she works at a high intensity, pushing herself to that red line day after day. After several months, she complains about feeling unmotivated, fatigued and irritable, and she expresses concern about her plateaued progress, trouble sleeping and a persistent soreness that rarely abates.

Are you overtraining, or under-fueling?

The Over

Given these symptoms, you’d likely identify her issue as overtraining, and indeed this could be the culprit. Overtraining occurs when the volume and frequency of your activity exceeds your recovery capacity, either from programming that progresses too quickly or from boosts in training volume that last for extended periods without allowing for adequate rest and recovery. Overtraining causes oxidative stress, which is a natural part of exercise as your body metabolizes oxygen to produce energy and encourage cellular repair. This process also produces free radicals, which are normal to some degree. However, with overtraining, the number of free radicals produced overwhelms the repair processes and can damage cells, DNA and mitochondria, causing inflammation, muscle fatigue and soreness that negatively impacts performance.

The Under

But before you diagnose your buddy as overtrained, there is another factor that could be at work: under-fueling. Under-fueling occurs when you take in fewer calories than you need in order to sustain a particular activity at a particular intensity over a period of time. This is not the same as restricting calories in order to lose weight because under-fueling is not done purposefully. It is usually a misunderstanding of your actual nutrient needs as they relate to your training protocol. As with overtraining, your symptoms will slowly compound if your workouts increase and your nutrition stays the same or if you are following a meal plan not suited to your activity. For example, an endurance athlete who suddenly switches to a low-carb diet without accounting for the amount of fuel she needs will likely perform poorly until her nutritional needs are addressed.

The Verdict

So how do you determine which ails you — overtraining or under-fueling since the symptoms are so similar? It is difficult, but the things that stand out with under-fueling are a noticeable loss of lean muscle mass, frequent illness and the loss of your menstrual cycle.

The good news is that both conditions are preventable. If you think you’re overtraining, rein in your training a bit and allow for some days off. Adopt a periodized plan that rotates between light, moderate and heavy volume/weight-training schedules, and get plenty of sleep and recovery time. If you suspect you’re under-fueled, track your food in a diary for several weeks and ensure you’re at least meeting your basic metabolic needs, as per the formula below. This has been shown to be most accurate and is as follows for women:

10 x your weight (kg) + 6.25 x your height (cm) – 5 x your age (years) – 161 = REE (resting energy expenditure)

Once you’ve determined your REE, multiply that number by the appropriate activity factor below to determine the number of calories you need per day:

  • Light – 1.56 
  • Moderate – 1.64 
  • Heavy – 1.82

Make sure you hit that target daily in order to keep your training on track and your progress moving forward   

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Whether you want to lean out, build muscle or break a personal record, tweaking your macronutrient ratios can give you the edge you want.

There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all diet, and what you should be eating depends largely on your goals. In order to succeed, you have to be specific about your macronutrient ratios so you can best fuel your body for the task at hand.

Get lean, build muscle and boost performance with this mix-and-match meal plan.

This plan addresses three goals common to Oxygen readers — getting lean, building muscle and boosting performance — and provides a mix-and-match matrix of macro-specific recipes you can leverage to craft the perfect program for you. In combination with the Add-Ins, these recipes have been plugged into three one-week meal plans that support each of these goals. Use these templates as a launch pad for designing your own goal-specific diet. 

But remember: Meal plans like this are just a starting point, and you can and should tweak the ratios and meal choices based on your lifestyle, likes, dislikes, allergies, training intensity and experience. Use the Add-Ins and/or adjust the number of servings you eat of an individual recipe to best suit your needs.

The Any-Goal Meal Plan Macro Breakdown

Protein Recipes

Chicken Shawarma

Chicken Shawarma

Makes: 8 servings 

INGREDIENTS

Marinade

  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1½ tsp garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper

Chicken

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into strips
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced

DIRECTIONS

Whisk together marinade ingredients in a large bowl, or place in a zip-close bag and shake well. Add chicken and onions and stir/shake to coat. Marinate 30 minutes in the fridge. Preheat oven to 425 F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Remove chicken and onions from marinade and arrange on prepared sheet. Discard marinade. Bake until chicken is golden and cooked through, about 20 to 25 minutes. 

Nutrition Facts (per serving = 5 oz): calories 197, protein 23 g, carbs 3 g, fat 11 g

Meatloaf Muffins

Makes: 12 muffins/servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 small onion, grated 
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ cup whole-wheat breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup nonfat milk of choice
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup ketchup, divided
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1½ lb 90-95% lean ground beef (You can sub turkey or chicken.)
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 425 F and coat a muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. In a large bowl, mix together onions, garlic powder, breadcrumbs, milk, egg, 2 tablespoons ketchup and Worcestershire sauce. Add beef, salt and pepper and mix again. Divide mixture between 12 muffin cups. Brush tops with remaining ketchup. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through.

Nutrition Facts (per serving = 1 muffin): calories 107, protein 13 g, carbs 5 g, fat 3 g

Turkey Burgers

Makes: 4 burgers/servings

INGREDIENTS

1 lb 99% lean ground turkey

1 large egg

½ tsp black pepper

½ tsp garlic powder

½ tsp onion powder

¼ tsp salt coarse sea salt, to taste

DIRECTIONS

Preheat grill to medium-high. Add all ingredients except coarse sea salt to a large bowl and mix well with hands. Form into 4 patties. Sprinkle both sides with coarse sea salt (to taste). Grill 5 to 7 minutes per side, or until cooked through.

Nutrition Facts (per serving = 1 burger): calories 148, protein 28 g, carbs 1 g, fat 3 g

Barbacoa Beef

Makes: 12 servings

INGREDIENTS

Chipotle Sauce

  • 3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 2 tsp adobo sauce (from can)
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup low-sodium beef broth or water
  • 2½ tsp garlic, minced
  • 3 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp allspice

Beef

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3½ lb beef (top round roast or chuck roast), fat trimmed
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup low-sodium beef broth
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 bay leaves

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 325 F. Add all sauce ingredients to a blender cup and pulse until smooth. Add olive oil to a large Dutch oven and place over medium-high heat. Season beef on both sides with salt and pepper and add to Dutch oven. Sear 1 to 2 minutes per side, then remove and set aside. Add onions, broth, tomato paste and bay leaves to Dutch oven and cook 1 to 2 minutes, or until onions are soft. Add beef and chipotle sauce and mix well. Cover and place in oven. Bake 3 to 3½ hours, or until beef is very tender. Discard bay leaves and place beef in a shallow dish. Shred with 2 forks. Toss with leftover juices, if desired. 

Nutrition Facts (per serving = 6 oz): calories 178, protein 27 g, carbs 3 g, fat 6 g

The number of servings you eat of a particular recipe changes according to your goals. For example, if you’re looking to gain muscle, you might be allotted more servings of a protein recipe in a given meal. Pay attention to these measurements in the meal plan charts.

Egg Frittata

Egg Frittata

Makes: 4 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 large eggs
  • 9 large egg whites
  • ¼ cup nonfat milk
  • 1 tsp kosher salt, divided
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ cup onions, diced
  • ½ cup mushrooms, diced
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 cup baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme, minced

DIRECTIONS

Arrange oven rack in center position and preheat oven to 400 F. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, egg whites, milk and ½ teaspoon salt. Add oil to a cast-iron or oven-safe skillet and heat over medium. Add onions, mushrooms, salt and pepper and cook 1 to 2 minutes. Add spinach, garlic and thyme and cook until spinach is wilted. Spread veggies out in bottom of pan. Pour in egg mixture and spread evenly. Cook 1 to 2 minutes, or until edges begin to set. Place pan in oven and bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until eggs are set. Set broiler to high and broil 1 to 2 minutes, or until a browned, crispy top is achieved. Cool 5 minutes and then slice into 4 pieces.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 143, protein 14 g, carbs 5 g, fat 7 g

Protein Recipes

Nutrition breakdown per serving

Carb Recipes

Maple Cinnamon Overnight Oats

Maple Cinnamon Overnight Oats

Makes: 6 Servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 cups rolled oats
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups nonfat milk or unsweetened plant-based milk
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • ¾ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt

DIRECTIONS

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Divide between 6 containers. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours, or overnight. Serve cold or warm.

Nutrition Facts (per serving = 5.3 oz): calories 282, protein 12 g, carbs 48 g, fat 5 g

Spinach and Mushroom Quinoa

Makes: 4 Servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • salt and pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS

Add oil to a skillet and place over medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic and mushrooms and cook 5 minutes, or until softened. Add spinach and cook until wilted. Set aside. Add quinoa and broth to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Then cover, reduce heat and simmer until quinoa has absorbed all the liquid, about 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Add quinoa and veggies to a bowl and toss to combine. Season with salt and
pepper (to taste).

Nutrition Facts (per serving = 7 oz): calories 172, protein 5 g, carbs 27 g, fat 5 g

Rice and Beans

Makes: 6 Servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp garlic, minced
  • 2 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 (15.5-oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 cup medium-grain white rice
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper

DIRECTIONS

Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium. Add onions and garlic and cook until softened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add broth, beans and cumin and bring to a boil. Stir in rice, then reduce heat, cover and simmer until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Nutrition Facts (per serving = 7 oz): calories 228, protein 7 g, carbs 39 g, fat 5 g

Cajun Orzo With Peas

Makes: 8 Servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 12 oz dry orzo pasta
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh oregano leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbsp Cajun seasoning blend
  • 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1½ cups peas
  • salt and pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS

Heat a skillet over medium. Add orzo and olive oil and cook until toasted, about 30 to 60 seconds. Add garlic, oregano and Cajun seasoning and stir to combine. Add broth and bring to a boil. Then cover and simmer 8 to 10 minutes, or until orzo is tender. Add peas and cook until bright green and softened. Season with salt and pepper (to taste).

Nutrition Facts (per serving = 6 oz): calories 205, protein 7 g, carbs 39 g, fat 3 g

Lentil Salad

Makes: 4 Servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup uncooked brown or red lentils
  • 3 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 English cucumber, finely chopped
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes, drained and diced

Dressing

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper

DIRECTIONS

Add lentils and broth to a saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer and then reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook until tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Use a strainer to rinse lentils until cooled, then drain. Place in a large bowl with veggies. Whisk together dressing ingredients. Drizzle over salad and toss to combine.

Nutrition Facts (per serving = 12 oz or 1½ cups): calories 294, protein 13 g, carbs 37 g, fat 11 g

Carb Recipes

Nutrition breakdown per serving

Vegetable Recipes

Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice

Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice

Makes: 4 Servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 (10-oz) packages riced
  • cauliflower, thawed
  • juice of ½ lime
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped

DIRECTIONS

Place oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add cauliflower rice and saute until heated through, about 3 to 5 minutes. Season with lime juice and salt and pepper (to taste). Toss with cilantro.

Nutrition Facts (per serving = 5 oz): calories 44, protein 7 g, carbs 5 g, fat 2 g

Chopped Vegetable Salad

Makes: 4 Servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 1 English cucumber, diced
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 ears corn, kernels removed
  • ¼ cup chickpeas
  • 1 cup green beans, cut into ¼-inch pieces
  • 2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, chopped

DIRECTIONS

Add all ingredients to a large bowl and toss to combine.

Nutrition Facts (per serving = 11.8 oz): calories 191, protein 5 g, carbs 29 g, fat 8 g

Garlic Green Beans

Makes: 4 Servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb green beans
  • 2 tsp garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper

DIRECTIONS

Place a large skillet over high heat. Add oil and green beans and cook until soft and starting to blister. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.

Nutrition Facts (per serving = 4 oz): calories 68, protein 2 g, carbs 8 g, fat 4 g

Vegetable Recipes

Nutrition breakdown per serving

Fat Recipes

Chocolate Tahini Balls

Makes: 15 Balls/Servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder or raw cacao powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup tahini
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup sesame seeds

DIRECTIONS

In a large bowl, mix together flour, cocoa powder and salt. Mix in tahini and syrup. Form into 15 balls. Spread sesame seeds on a plate and roll each ball in seeds. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

Nutrition Facts (per serving = 1 ball): calories 133, protein 4 g, carbs 12 g, fat 8 g

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Makes: 8 Servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 cups low-sodium broth
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 5 cups broccoli florets
  • ½ cup nonfat milk
  • ¼ tsp black pepper, plus more, to taste
  • 3 tbsp sour cream
  • 2 cups reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese
  • salt, to taste

DIRECTIONS

Add broth, onions, carrots, celery and garlic to a stockpot. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Add broccoli, milk and pepper. Cover and cook 10 minutes. Add sour cream and cheese and stir until cheese is melted. Season with salt and pepper (to taste).

Nutrition Facts (per serving = 8 oz): calories 149, protein 12 g, carbs 7 g, fat 9 g

If you prefer a thicker soup, add 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour to the recipe and puree with an immersion blender before adding in cheese.

Creamy Guacamole

Makes: 4 Servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large avocado, peeled, pitted and mashed
  • ¼ cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp salsa
  • salt and pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS

Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix well. Season with salt and pepper (to taste).

Nutrition Facts (per serving = 2 oz): calories 91, protein 1 g, carbs 4 g, fat 8 g

Fat Recipes

Nutrition breakdown per serving

Mix and match to find the best fits for your needs and goals.

Add-Ins

Use this mix-and-match table to add in or trade out particular foods and macros to best suit your needs and goals.

The Any-Goal Meal Plan, below.

Build Muscle

Protein forms the foundation of a muscle-building plan, and this schedule allots you plenty of construction material. Not only does protein work to build and repair muscle, but it also keeps you full for longer while promoting fat loss: Protein has a thermic effect on your body, meaning you have to burn more calories to digest it than you do
other macros.  

Boost Performance

Carbohydrates are king when it comes to energy, and this performance-based plan highlights carbs as your primary macronutrient. You’ll be able to run faster, jump higher or stay the distance with this high-octane program. 

Get Lean

Getting lean is a sticky wicket, but this plan leverages the power of dietary fat to get you results. Fat takes longer to break down and digest, so it sticks with you longer to promote satiety. This is extremely helpful when leaning out because your carb intake is reduced and your stress level — and tendency to get hangry — is amplified. 

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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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Satisfy your cravings with these modern comfort food recipes.

Sometimes when life beats you down, it’s all you can do to resist diving headfirst into a vat of mac and cheese, but eating your feelings need not widen your waistline.

With some stealth ingredient swaps and a few delicious cooking twists, you can have the best of both worlds when it comes to your favorite feel-good foods. Use these recipes in place of your habitual vices, and take comfort in the fact that you’re doing your body good.

French Toast Muffins — just add a dollop of the yogurt-syrup mixture!

French Toast Muffins

Hands-On Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Makes: 4 servings

French toast — meet muffins. Muffins — meet French toast. Blending these iconic breakfast staples and trading out some of the less-healthy ingredients makes these portion-perfect muffins a new favorite. 

Flip Out: White bread, butter, heavy cream, a gallon of syrup

Flip In: Whole-grain sourdough bread, fresh berries, walnuts, yogurt

Nutrition Upgrade

Sourdough is higher in iron and selenium as well as B vitamins, which help regulate metabolism, while Greek yogurt gives the muffins a much-needed protein kick. Walnuts up the ante with heart-healthy omega-3 fats, and blueberries deliver a payload of antioxidants, helping neutralize the DNA-damaging free radicals while lowering blood pressure.

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 large eggs
  • ½ cup 2% milk or unsweetened nondairy alternative
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 6 cups sourdough bread, cubed
  • ⅓ cup chopped walnuts
  • ¾ cup blueberries
  • 1½ cups plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a small bowl, lightly beat eggs and stir in milk, vanilla and cinnamon. Add bread cubes to a large bowl and pour egg mixture over top, using your hands to gently massage liquid into bread. Let sit 5 minutes and then fold in walnuts and blueberries. Divide mixture among 8 greased or paper-lined muffin cups and press down gently to compress. Bake 20 minutes and then let cool several minutes before removing from pan. In a small bowl, combine yogurt and maple syrup. Serve muffins topped with a dollop of yogurt-syrup mixture.

Nutrition Facts (per serving = 2 muffins): calories 338, fat 13 g, carbs 35 g, fiber 5 g, sugar 13 g, protein 22 g, sodium 283 mg

Zucchini Noodles

Chicken Zoodle Soup

Hands-On Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Makes: 4 servings

There’s no better way to take the chill out of winter than to cozy up to a steamy bowl of chicken noodle soup. This adaptation, featuring roasted chicken, fresh zucchini noodles and flavorful wine, guarantees you’ll never go back to the gloppy canned version.

Flip Out: Starchy noodles, excess salt, bland chicken

Flip In: Zucchini noodles, beans, roasted chicken

Nutrition Upgrade

Trading refined pasta noodles for zucchini slashes the carb content, making each spoonful more midriff-friendly. The addition of beans pumps the soup full of quality plant protein and appetite-taming fiber, and the chicken thighs add a boost of flavor that white meat fails to provide.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tbsp canola oil, divided
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1½ tsp Italian seasoning
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp red chili flakes
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 (14 oz) canned white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • 2 medium zucchini
  • ⅓ cup parsley

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 400 F. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in an ovenproof skillet over medium-high. Add chicken and cook until browned on bottom, then flip and brown other side. Place skillet in oven and roast 20 minutes, or until meat reaches an internal temperature of 165 F. Remove and let rest 5 minutes before shredding. Meanwhile, add 1 tablespoon oil to a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, celery and salt and cook until veggies are tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add Italian seasoning, black pepper and chili flakes and cook another 30 seconds. Add white wine and cook 3 minutes. Add beans and broth and bring to a simmer. Cook 5 minutes, then turn off heat and stir in chicken and lemon juice. Use a spiralizer or serrated vegetable peeler to cut zucchini into “noodles.” Divide zucchini noodles among serving bowls and ladle in soup. Serve garnished with parsley.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 395, fat 13 g, carbs 31 g, fiber 8 g, sugar 5 g, protein 13 g, sodium 640 mg

You also can try spiraling other veggies such as sweet potatoes, carrots and parsnips. 

Tuna Caprese Grilled Cheese

Tuna Caprese Grilled Cheese

Hands-On Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 6 minutes

Makes: 2 servings

This mash-up of two classic lunch favorites is a great grown-up way to craft a sammie — without worrying about fat and calorie overload.

Flip Out: White bread, processed cheese slices, ketchup

Flip In: Sprouted bread, tuna, freshly made cheese, greens, pesto

Sprouting partially breaks down the starch in the bread grains, giving it a lower carb content than other varieties.

Nutrition Upgrade

Sprouted bread trumps doughy white bread because it is higher in protein and fiber, and soft cheeses like fresh mozzarella contain more moisture, making them less calorie-dense than hard varieties. The tuna adds a protein punch, making this a more complete meal while also providing plenty of potassium, magnesium and iron.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp prepared pesto
  • 4 slices whole-grain sprouted bread
  • 1 (5 oz) can albacore tuna
  • 2 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced into thin rounds
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup arugula
  • 2 large slices tomato

DIRECTIONS

Melt butter and salt in a skillet over medium-low. Spread half the pesto on 2 slices of bread and top each with an equal amount of tuna and cheese. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and top with arugula and a slice of tomato. Spread remaining pesto on remaining bread and place them on top, pesto side down. Place sandwiches in skillet and heat until bread is golden and crispy on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Press downward firmly on sandwiches with a spatula and then flip and cook another 3 minutes, or until cheese has melted and bread is crispy on the bottom. Press with spatula once more, then remove from skillet. Let cool 1 minute, then slice in half and serve.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 441, fat 22 g, carbs 29 g, fiber 2 g, sugar 1 g, protein 30 g, sodium 668 mg

Turkey Meatloaf

Turkey Meatloaf

Hands-On Time: 20 Minutes

Cook Time: 40 Minutes

Makes: 4 Servings

If you are going to reinvent the meatloaf, it’d better taste like home — deliciously moist and not at all “healthified.” This version hits mom’s meatloaf mark without weighing you down digestionwise.

Flip Out: Fatty ground beef, breadcrumbs

Flip In: Lean ground turkey, oats, sweet potato

Nutrition Upgrade

Using lean ground turkey reduces the fat calories found in regular ground beef by about 50 percent — without any protein compromise. Swapping out nutrient-poor breadcrumbs for whole oats boosts the fiber content to help reduce cholesterol, and sneaking in some sweet potatoes keeps the meatloaf tender while infusing the meal with some immune-boosting vitamin A.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 cup yellow onion, diced
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 cups sweet potatoes, grated
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • ¾ cup quick oats
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ⅓ cup sugar-free barbecue sauce

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 F, and grease a 9-inch-by-5-inch loaf pan. Heat oil in large skillet over medium. Add onions and salt and cook 5 minutes. Add sweet potatoes and cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add mixture to a large bowl with turkey, eggs, oats, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, garlic powder and pepper. Mix well and then spread mixture evenly in a loaf pan. Bake 30 minutes, then brush on barbecue sauce. Bake another 10 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted into the center reads 160 F. Let cool 5 minutes in pan before slicing.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 333, fat 8 g, carbs 30 g, fiber 4 g, sugar 8 g, protein 33 g, sodium 439 mg

Chili Mac and Cheese

Hands-On Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Makes: 6 Servings

This hybrid of two traditional comfort meals plays by the nutritional rules without sacrificing any savory flavor.

BONUS: It’s all made in a single pan to streamline prep and cleanup.

Flip Out: White pasta, milk, butter, regular ground beef

Flip In: Whole-grain pasta, lean ground beef, spinach, mushrooms

According to research, mushrooms improve immunity and help prevent respiratory infections — the perfect antidote for flu season!

Nutrition Upgrade

Mushrooms and bell peppers up the veggie ante, delivering a healthy dose of selenium and vitamin D, and using lean ground beef eliminates gobs of saturated fat. Diced tomatoes infuse the dish with cancer-preventing lycopene, while kidney beans add a hit of tummy-trimming fiber as well as vitamin B1 for healthy cognition.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • ¾ lb 95% lean ground beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cups chopped cremini or button mushrooms
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 (540 mL) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 cup low-sodium beef or vegetable broth
  • 1½ cups whole-grain macaroni
  • 1 (14 oz) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 cups spinach
  • 1½ cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

DIRECTIONS

Heat oil in a large saucepan or skillet over medium. Add beef and brown, breaking meat into 1-inch chunks as it cooks, about 5 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside. Add onions and salt to pan and cook until onions are soft and beginning to darken, about 5 minutes. Add bell peppers, mushrooms and garlic and cook 3 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, oregano and black pepper and cook 1 minute. Add tomatoes, broth and macaroni and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered and stirring occasionally, until pasta is al dente, about 12 minutes. Add beef and kidney beans and cook 3 minutes. Add spinach and stir until wilted. Divide among serving bowls and top each with ¼ cup cheese.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 413, fat 16 g, carbs 41 g fiber 8 g, sugar 7 g, protein 29 g, sodium 747 g

Happy Endings

When nothing less than decadence will do, turn your frown upside down with one of these heathy(ish) store-bought treats.

FlapJacked Chocolate Chip Cookie Bar

Made with whole-grain oats, date paste, probiotics and whey protein, these soft-baked cookies are a guilt-free way to embrace your cravings while supporting gut health and muscle growth.

flapjacked.com or amazon.com, $25 (12-pack)

Alter Eco Superdark Chocolate Truffles

Rich and luscious, these one-bite gems feature less sugar and more organic dark chocolate per serving for a delicious antioxidant punch.

alterecofoods.com or amazon.com, $8

Base Culture Almond Butter Paleo Brownie

These grain- and gluten-free brownies have a deep cocoa flavor and a creamy finish courtesy of healthy nut butter.

baseculture.com or amazon.com, $35 (30-pack)

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