By: Sari Greaves, RDN, LBS Nutrition LLC Dietitian
Let’s face it. Your food choices have a huge impact on how you feel and function during the day. Making balanced choices and feeling your best may be easier said than done when you factor in a busy schedule. The good news for all you time-crunched eaters—with a few tricks, you can prepare easy, balanced meals that will satisfy a craving for something crunchy, sweet, or savory while providing you with sustained energy to conquer your day.
Straight from our home kitchen and into yours, the Registered Dietitians at LBS Nutrition LLC are serving up everyday, nutritious meals that will take the stress out of cooking. Fall into a healthy routine this season by experimenting with one new recipe a day. You will feel the powerful boost of a protein and fiber-packed meal to help you stay full. As an added bonus, these recipes get our stamp of approval for being big on taste and slimming on the waist.
Hungry for more? The Dietitians at LBS Nutrition LLC can create individualized meal plans that meet your personal health and wellness goals. (And that fit in your busy schedule!)
Greek Salad Roll-Up
When you need a grab ‘n go meal, wraps are a convenient way to enjoy a nutritious salad without a fork. In this recipe, we take all the healthy ingredients of a classic Greek salad and roll it into a high fiber wrap. Extra protein points for using the Greek yogurt dressing.
For the wraps: Makes 4 wraps
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ red onion, chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic, from jar
1 cucumber, chopped
1cup cherry tomatoes, halved
¼ cup black olives, chopped with pits removed
2 chopped roasted red bell peppers from jar
2 cups baby spinach or dark leafy greens, chopped
4 boiled eggs, chopped
2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup feta cheese
4 whole grain wraps (60-90 calories each, with at least 5 g fiber per wrap) such as Tumaro’s or Flatouts
- In a bowl stir together first 12 ingredients, from oil through cheese.
- Divide mixture between 4 wraps.
- Drizzle with Greek yogurt dressing.
(373 calories, 20 g protein, 11 g fiber) + sauce
Greek yogurt dressing: Makes 4 ¼ cup servings
1 6-ounce container 2% Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons canola oil mayonnaise
½ cup cultured low-fat buttermilk
½ tablespoon champagne or white wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill or chives
1/8 teaspoon each: salt and pepper
- Whisk all ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl until well combined.
- Pour sauce into an airtight container. Chill until ready to use.
( 71 calories, 6 g protein per serving)
Weeknight Do It Yourself Pasta Builder
Mix and match your favorite batch for less than 500 calories. Each recipe makes 4-8 servings depending on pasta box size. (8 oz. box yields 4 cooked servings; 1 lb. box yields 8 cooked servings) Make a batch and then top your serving with any of our Finishing Sauces. Precooked proteins help you bring it to the table in next to no time.
Pick your ingredients…
1 box of high protein/fiber pasta such as:
- Explore Cuisine Edamame or Black Bean Pasta
- Banza Chickpea Pasta
- Fiber Gourmet Pasta
- Ancient Harvest Gluten Free Pow! Pasta
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, hazelnut oil, walnut oil, or canola oil
Low-sodium broth as needed
Choose a flavor base and dice it up:
- 1 whole head of garlic
- Yellow/white onion
- 1 bunch of leeks or celery stalks
12-16 oz. your favorite protein (Pick one, or mix as many as you’d like)
- Diced salmon
- Skinless chicken breast strips
- 95% lean ground beef
- White beans (canned, rinsed & drained)
- Canned tuna (packed in water)
1½ cups of your choice of vegetables (Choose one or mix!)
- Broccoli florets
- Sliced zucchini,
- Sliced mushrooms
½ cup grated cheese
- Shredded asiago/fontina/mozzarella
Herbs to taste:
- Sliced chives
- Italian parsley
- Pick your favorite pasta shape; cook it one minute less than package directions. Drain, reserving ½ cup cooking water.
- Place your oil in a 12-inch skillet and warm over medium heat.
- Add your flavor base and gently cook until translucent.
- Add your protein and sauté on medium-high heat until browned. If using tuna or beans, stir until warmed through.
- Add your vegetables and continue to cook until fork tender or wilted. Add additional broth if more cooking liquid is needed.
- Stir in the freshly cooked pasta and the ½ cup of reserved cooking water and cook for a few seconds until most of the liquid is absorbed.
- Remove from heat and stir in cheese and herbs. Alternately, you can substitute the cheese and herbs with any of the delicious finishing sauces below.
Finishing Sauces: Makes 1 serving.
Ginger Hoisin (30 CALORIES) • 1½ teaspoons finely chopped green onions, 2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar, 1½ teaspoons lower-sodium soy sauce, 1 teaspoon peeled fresh ginger, ½ teaspoon honey, 1 teaspoon hoisin sauce
Teriyaki Sauce (30 CALORIES) • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce, ½ teaspoon sugar, 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar, ½ teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger, 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper, 1 minced garlic clove, ¾ teaspoon cornstarch, 1 teaspoon water
Coconut Ginger (35 CALORIES) • ½ teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger, 1 minced garlic clove, 1 teaspoon Sriracha, 2 teaspoons lower-sodium soy sauce, 1 teaspoon red curry paste, 2 tablespoons light coconut milk
Peanut Sauce (95 CALORIES) • 1 tablespoon water, 1½ teaspoons brown sugar, 2 teaspoons chunky peanut butter, ½ teaspoon Sriracha, 1 teaspoon lower-sodium soy sauce, 1½ teaspoons rice vinegar
- For any of the above, just stir all ingredients until combined.
Mayo-Free Avocado Tuna Salad
Swap out the mayo in a traditional tuna salad for fresh avocado and olive oil to amp up your intake of heart-healthy fats. Serve with 1 cup of antioxidant rich red grapes or 100-calorie bag of Enlightened beans.
Makes 2 servings
4 slices of whole grain bread, toasted and cut diagonally such as Ezekiel Sprouted Grain, Trader Joes California Style Sprouted Whole Grain or David’s Killer Bread
1 5-ounce can tuna in olive oil, drained
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons red onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup celery, finely chopped
¼ apple, finely chopped into thin matchsticks
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
black pepper, to taste
1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, and cubed
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the tuna, mustard, onion, celery and apple.
- Add in lemon juice and black pepper to taste. Using a spatula, gently fold in the avocado cubes.
- Spoon the tuna gently over toast.
( 350 calories, 19 protein, and 9 g fiber per serving)
Microwave Cup of Zoodles
A delicious medley of zucchini, lentil-tomato sauce, and melted mozzarella combine in one easy, microwave friendly meal.
Makes 1 serving
1 small zucchini, spiralized or sliced into 1/8-inch-thick coins
½ cup jarred tomato sauce
½ cup cooked brown lentils* (or canned cannellini beans, drained)
1 scoop of flavorless fiber powder (such as Renew Life Clear Fiber powder)
¼ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
- Arrange zucchini on a microwave-safe plate and cook on high for 90 seconds. Pat dry with a paper towel.
- In a small mixing bowl, combine tomato sauce, cooked lentils or beans, and fiber powder. In a separate bowl, combine ricotta and 2 tablespoons mozzarella.
- Arrange half of the zucchini in a microwave-safe mug. Top with1 tablespoon cheese mixture, spreading evenly. Top cheese mixture with 2 tablespoons lentil sauce. Repeat layering zucchini, cheese, and sauce until mug is almost full, then top with remaining mozzarella.
- Cover mug with a clean paper towel and microwave on high for 90 seconds, until cheese is melted. Let cool 2 minutes before serving.
(314 calories, 25 g protein and 19.5 g fiber per recipe)
*Basic cooked lentils: Make more to store, and use cooked lentils to instantly elevate the fiber and protein content of salads, stir fries, egg dishes, tacos, and stews.
2 cups dry lentils, rinsed
- In a medium-size pot, add the lentils and enough water or broth to cover.
- Bring to a boil, cover, and turn down to medium-low.
- Simmer until tender, about 15-20 minutes.
- Drain lentils and store in airtight container for up to 1 week.
Canned lentils are also another great time-saving option – just be sure to rinse them under fresh water for about one minute in order to reduce the sodium content.
Pan Fried Chickpea Pita Sandwiches
If you are craving falafel without the deep-fry regret, these pita sandwiches are super tasty with lots of texture, and are easy to assemble.
Makes 8 servings
6 whole grain pitas, halved (80-100 calorie) such as Ezekiel’s pockets
2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon ground red pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
8 cups leafy greens, such as spinach or arugula
12 tomato slices
12 thin avocado slices
12 tablespoons of prepared hummus, plain or garlic flavored.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wrap pita in foil and bake 10 minutes until warm.
- Place chickpeas in a single layer between paper towels; pat dry.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan and swirl to coat. Add chickpeas and sauté until lightly browned and crispy, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes.
- Remove chickpeas using a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Add leafy greens to skillet and cook until wilted.
- In a medium bowl, combine salt, cumin, paprika, and red pepper; stir in chickpeas and toss well to coat. Fold in leafy greens.
- Fill each pita half with about 2/3 cup chickpea mixture, 1 tomato slice, 1 avocado slice and 1 tablespoon of hummus. Serve immediately.
(328 calories, 12 g protein, 8 g fiber per serving)
Quick Coconut Curry
After a long day, this recipe has all the elements of a quick and satisfying meal- crunchy legumes, tender vegetables, and silky coconut broth. You can make different variation of this curry using any fresh vegetable you enjoy, and precooked proteins such as diced rotisserie chicken or pre-cooked chicken sausage.
Makes 4 servings
2 tablespoons olive oil
¾ cup chopped onion, fresh or from frozen package
2 tablespoons minced garlic, fresh or from jar
2 tablespoons almond flour/meal or all-purpose flour
1 ½ tablespoons curry powder
1 cup fresh cauliflower florets
2 cups mixed squash, sliced or cubed: yellow, green, butternut
4 cups unsalted vegetable stock
1 teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup light coconut milk
Choose a crunchy protein/fiber topper: 6 ounce bag of dry roasted chickpeas, edamame, or beans (any flavor) such as Saffron Road Dry Roasted Chickpeas, Seapoint Farms dry roasted Edamame, or Enlightened Beans
- In a large pot, heat olive olive oil and swirl to coat.
- Add onion and garlic; sauté for 5 minutes
- Add flour and curry powder; cook 1-1 ½ minutes or until flour begins to brown, stirring constantly. Stir in vegetables. Add vegetable stock, pepper and salt. Bring to a boil over medium—high heat.
- Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 15-20 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
- Remove pan from heat; stir in coconut milk. Divide mixture between 4 bowls; sprinkle each serving with crunchy topping.
( 266 calories and 6.5 g protein+ your crunchy topping)
Power Up! Protein Salad
If you are craving a light and sweet meal that keeps your hunger level in check, look no further. A leafy green salad topped with protein and a citrus twist not only adds a juicy bonus to your meal, but also enhances iron absorption (Iron is an essential mineral needed to make hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying component of red blood cells. Iron is needed to maintain healthy skin, hair, and nails and if your body is not getting enough, you can become fatigued). Top your salad with any protein you have on hand from animal to vegetarian sources.
Makes 2 servings
2 cups diced fresh strawberries (or any Vitamin C-rich fruit such as kiwi, grapefruit, oranges, watermelon, or pineapple)
2 tablespoons chopped red onion
1 ½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar
¼ teaspoon black pepper
juice of 1 lime
½ ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and cubed
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint (optional)
3-4 cups dark leafy greens, divided into 2 bowls
Choose a protein topper for each salad: 2 ounces Crispy Coconut Chicken Strips*, veggie burger from frozen package such as Morningstar Farms, 1/2 cup of low-fat cottage cheese such as Friendship 1% whipped or muuna cottage cheese, 1 boiled whole eggs + 2 whites, 2-3 ounces of diced skinless rotisserie chicken breast, chicken or salmon burger from frozen package, 1 cup cooked quinoa-black bean mixture, 2-3 ounces cooked shrimp, 2-3 ounces of cooked lean sirloin/flank steak.
- In a bowl stir together strawberries, onion, vinegar, pepper, lime, avocado and mint.
- Divide mixture and spoon over each salad bowl.
- Add your favorite protein topper to each salad.
(142 calories and 5 g protein pre serving) + protein of your choice
*Crispy Coconut Chicken Strips
Makes 4 servings
½ cup oats or ground flaxseed meal
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 omega-3 fortified egg
8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into strips
1 tablespoon honey
- Preheat oven to 400 degree and coat a baking dish with cooking spray.
- If using oats, placed in a food processor and grind for 20 seconds.
- In a mixing bowl, combine ground oats or flaxseeds with cheese and coconut flakes.
- Beat egg. Dip chicken strips in egg and dredge in oat/flax mixture.
- Arrange chicken strips in a single layer on baking sheet, drizzle with honey and cook 10-15 minutes per side, until golden brown.
( 189 calories and 18 g protein per serving)
References: Cooking Well: Easy Meals @asksari (Instagram, Facebook) Cookinglight.com, Food & Nutrition Magazine.