I’ve posted a random few comments (ok, maybe more than a few, I love food) on social media and had some questions about some of the healthy foods I make on the reg. So, here’s a recipe post with some healthy food meals/sides.
Disclaimer: my version of healthy is using high quality ingredients as much as I can, on the lower carb side because I typically cut out grains/rice but not really low carb because I use a healthy dose of potatoes and corn to fuel my endurance workouts, and… I am team omnivore. These are not necessarily all low calorie foods but they’re good calories!
Disclaimer 2: I tend to eyeball a lot of stuff. I generally know what the measurements are, so if it doesn’t come out perfect for you the first time, experiment (especially the waffles – they take some love to get right). Google is your friend for assessing mishaps or different desired results (i.e. what makes waffles less spongy helped me out).
Chocolate Protein Powder Waffles
I’m still working on perfecting this recipe, but I’m getting close.
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 scoops protein powder (any flavor will do, but you will taste it so make sure it’s something you like)
- 1/3 cup coconut flour
- 1 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
- about 1/2 cup liquid (any type of milk or water).
- 1/2 tsp of baking powder
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder (gives it a chocolatey taste, I use it with cookies and cream)
- packet of apple cider mix (great with vanilla or cinnamon protein powder)
- You can add a third egg but I found that to be too spongy for me as an egg hater.
- Go wild!
This makes 4 waffles. I eat 2 for a serving. That’s approximately 300 calories without toppings.
Plug in and heat up your waffle maker
Combine all the ingredients except about 1/2 the milk/liquid and whisk together
Assess the thickness. It should be a little thicker than pancake dough, but not as thick as cookie dough. Too thick, it will be a little gritty. Too thin, it will fall apart too easy. You’ll probably need the extra liquid, so whisk that in if you do, but I always double check.
Let your waffle maker do it’s thing. This is a great time to cook up some sausage patties and a broccoli pancake for the side.
Once they’re done, I top with a *little* butter, a drizzle of real maple syrup… and a pinch of salt. I am kind of a salt fiend, so I may just be weird, but I think it brings out the flavor of everything. If you’re anti salt for health reasons, totally skip it. If you just think it’s weird – give it a try on one little square and see if you like it. You could certainly top with anything you’d like – I can see nut butter, jam, yogurt, fruit, ice cream (lol), etc. I’ve just been enjoying scratching that traditional-breakfast-without-all-the-carbs itch so I haven’t branched out.
Lettuce boat club sandwiches
One of my favorite foods in the world is a club sandwich on sourdough. It used to be my pre-race food until I realized that I was often feeling gross on race day. I’m trying to avoid bread, so I thought I had to give up one of my faves… until I had a revelation! This is a super easy lunch, dinner, snack… anytime. And… once you remove all the bread (which you won’t miss much, I swear), you’ve got plenty of room for whatever side you want to pair with it.
Approximately 300 calories with cheese, turkey, and bacon (and all the veggies).
- 1/4 lb (or like 6 thin slices) of turkey.
- 3 strips bacon
- 1 slice of cheese
- Tomato, onion, pickle (or whatever else you want to top with… haven’t tried avocado but that would rock too!)
- Lettuce that comes off in solid leaves. Romain or butter lettuce work. Iceberg is iffy, it’s real thin. Bagged pre-chopped salad doesn’t work unless you want to make it a club salad instead.
Cook the bacon ahead of time if you want to save time. Or use precooked bacon, but really, you want good quality pan cooked bacon since it’s not hiding in bread.
Pick out 4-6 lettuce leaves (depending on the size/how hungry you are). Use them like you would bread.
Put down one leaf, layer cheese, turkey, bacon, and then toppings. I suggest this order because I think it hold things in better, but, it’s your lettuce-wich!
Put your second leaf over the top. Repeat as many times as you want!
Bonus: without the bread, I don’t think this needs any sauce like mustard, mayo, dressing, etc, but you can certainly add it.
Ignore the shoes, and look at that luscious lasagna-y goodness. I was even able to leave out the zucchini on Zliten’s side (and add just a few noodles) and we had a dish we could share. Note the great noodle wall up there. It actually worked out really well!
Notes: I’ll direct you how to make it like I did (half for a veggie hater/noodle lover).
This is about a 500 calorie GIANT meal (if you divide it into 6). You can go smaller with 8 servings for about 375 calories and pair with a salad for a smaller meal. You can also eat one, 3000 calorie giant pan serving. I won’t judge.
- 1 1/2 lb organic ground beef
- 1 lb spicy chicken sausage
- 1 cup ricotta
- 4 cups of tomato sauce
- a lot of mozzerella (was working with a big bag so hard to judge – probably at least 1 cup)
- 1 zucchini (2 or 1 large if you’re not using noodles)
- about 6 large lasagna noodles (omit if you’re making all with zucchini, or double if you’re making it all noodle-y)
- 4 cups of spinach
- 2 bell pepper
- 1 large onion
- black olives (to taste)
- a handful of pepperoni (optional)
- Garlic Powder
- Salt (to taste, or omit if you’re trying to cut back)
- Red pepper flakes
Brown the ground beef and chicken sausage in a pan. Halfway through, dice up and add onions and peppers and seasoning. Add ricotta and tomato sauce and let thicken for about 5 mins. Add the spinach, pepperoni (i dice this), and olives and mix in.
Now, preheat your oven to 350 and assemble. Lay down one layer of the mixture, and then you can choose zucchini or noodles, and then a layer of mozzarella and so on. I won’t tell how how to live your life, but my ‘zagna goes: mix, noodle/zucc, cheese, mix, noodle/zucc, cheese, mix, cheese. I don’t put a crust on top. The cheese gets yummy and crispy and works for me.
Bake in the oven for 45 mins with foil on, and then 15 mins with foil off. Obviously, it’s best right out of the oven, but reheats like a champ, even from frozen, with a few minutes in the microwave per serving.
Oddly enough, I have no tortilla pizza pictures because I’ve made them a million times, but dang if it doesn’t look and taste very similar to this (just with a thinner crust).
I have this conundrum where I crave the taste of pizza often, but it is so unfilling to me. Seriously, without the nagging thoughts of how many calories I was putting down, I could probably take down a whole medium myself because there is no… substance to it. And then, of course, I would feel super duper gross all day.
Enter the solution – personal pizzas on a corn tortilla.
The first step is to get your tortilla crispy. Here’s where your choice lies – you could bake the crap out of the tortilla in the oven… or you can coat each side of your tortilla with a little olive oil and pan fry it. I choose the latter. It doesn’t take much oil and is soooo good.
Do NOT put any toppings on it until you have your tortilla crispy, or you won’t get crust. You’ll have a limp tortilla with stuff on top that will fall off. This is not what you want.
Once you have that crispy tortilla, you can top with anything! My fave is:
- tomato sauce
- mozzarella (or whatever cheese you have around the house, I’ve done everything from cheddar to feta)
- turkey pepperoni
- black olives
- italian seasoning
- red pepper flakes
As discussed, with a half tbsp of olive oil, a modest sprinkling of cheese, this comes in about 225 calories. If you go heavier with the cheese – maybe about 250.
Just continue to let it heat up in the pan and let the cheese melt, and in a few moments, you’re eating a personal pizza for less calories than a thin crust slice (depending on toppings and how cheesy you make it).
Two of these are really filling. Even on hungry days.
Sides are a big deal to me. I’ve been known to prefer one restaurant over another due to their sides (not the main dish). I’ve been known to eat a meal of mostly, or sometimes all, sides.
My husband, however, thinks sides are less important. He’s been known to cook something like a piece of chicken for dinner, and when I ask what else goes with it, he’ll shrug at me and say “another piece of chicken?”. So, our cooking teamwork style involves him handling the main dish and I get the sides. It works out.
Here are some sides that are so blissfully simple, healthy, and delicious that they’ll become staples in your kitchen.
Mashed potatoes are my favorite. Well, so are fries. And chips. And loaded baked potatoes. And… ok, I love potatoes. However, even as an endurance athlete, I do not need to be loading up on scoop upon scoop of potatoes on a daily basis.
However, enter the noble cauliflower. Combined with a small amount of potato, and treated right, it will rival the most yummy mashed potatoes with less calories and more veggie power to your day!
Take head of cauliflower and 2-3 potatoes. Chop up. Put in pot of water. Boil for 1 hour (or until the cauliflower comes apart easily with the press of a fork). You can’t reasonably overcook this – unless you let all the water burn off. I, uh, haven’t done this, but I’ve heard it’s possible. Yeah.
Once you have the mush, completely strain it. When I make mashed potatoes (no cauli), I make sure to leave a bit in – but cauliflower holds onto a lot more water, so get rid of it all. That’s why I don’t skip the potato completely, I think it needs at least 25% potato to have the right texture.
Now, you could just mush this up and call it a day, but it would taste pretty bland. I’ll usually just see what’s in my fridge and toss in a few things in this category:
- Cheese (any)
- Sour Cream/Greek Yogurt
- Ranch/creamy dressing
- Seasonings: dill, garlic, salt, pepper, italian seasoning, rosemary, onion flakes/powder, etc
The ones I made yesterday? Half a cup of ricotta, 2 tbsp butter, garlic, salt, and pepper. Last week’s? Leftover bacon grease, ranch, salt, pepper, handful of cheddar. Earlier this year? Sour cream and I threw in leftovers of a bacon cheeseball appetizer. Anything that adds creamy/cheesy flavor is good.
Mash with a hand masher if you like lumps (I do), or whip with a food processor or hand mixer if you don’t.
The calories in this depends on what you put in it, but I’ve found it averages out to about 150 calories for a BIG serving (like, this makes 6 and is probably a larger scoop than a restaurant would give you).
It took me about 35.5 years to figure this one out, but it’s SO FREAKING EASY and you have a delicious veggie side dish in about 2.5 minutes.
- Put olive oil in a pan
- Throw in fresh spinach
- Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, parmesan cheese and let it wilt down.
Enjoy. Shown above with meatballs, caprese skewers for a super easy delicious dinner that took less than 10 minutes.
The only real calories in here are the olive oil. You probably need about a tablespoon to coat it, so you’re looking at ~120 calories for all the spinach you can/care to eat.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
My husband HATED brussels sprouts. I didn’t love them either. Both our parents made them boiled/steamed with no seasoning. Yuck. Who would do that to a poor veggie? Not me, anymore.
But then, we had them out at a restaurant once fried with bacon and they rocked our socks off. With a little bit of experimenting, I figured out how to make em awesome at home without always pulling the bacon card.
- Preheat oven to 450
- Cut the brussels in half and if they’re big enough, cut off the nubby part at the bottom.
- Toss in olive oil.
- Season with garlic powder, salt, pepper, and parmesan (you’ll note this is the same as the spinach above – I may just be addicted to this flavor, but I think it goes great with just about anything.
- Lay out on a cookie sheet (or if you’re lazy like me, on foil on a cookie sheet so you don’t have to wash it).
- Put in the oven for about 25 minutes. If they’re not a bit brown, try 5 more minutes.
Voila! Crispy crunchy tasty brussels. Again, the real contributor to calories is the olive oil, so you’re looking at under 150 calories for all the brussels you can eat, if you keep the oil to 1 tbsp. However, it is VERY important here that the veggies are fully coated, or no flavor will stick to them and they’ll get all yucky in the oven.
To vary the flavor, you can do everything from salt and vinegar, to buffalo sauce, to more herb-y (rosemary, oregano, basil, salt, pepper), to spicy (cayenne, chili powder, smoked paprika, salt).
NOTE: While we’re talking about a specific veggie here, I’ve found this works well (with temperature and time adjustments) for lots of different things. To vary the veggie, you just need to keep in mind of the composition of the veggie and how you want it to come out.
- Kale: same temp, 5 minutes. Kale is a lot thinner, and we want it like a chip. Pull off the ones that are done at 5 minutes, cook for another 5. Repeat until they’re all crispy.
- Broccoli/cauliflower: 400 degrees, and 15-20 minutes. For these, you’re looking for a little roast, but not chip-like, so you want to turn the heat down.
- Sweet Potatoes: same temp and similar time to brussels, depending on the thickness (thin fries, chips, steak fries, etc). Potatoes are similar to brussels, so the time is about the same for CRISPY fries or chips. If you want them less crispy, try 15-20 mins and mayyyybe consider turning the heat down to 425.
As you can see, it’s not all that time consuming or intimidating to whip up something healthy. It just takes a little bit of (delicious, delicious) experimenting. It usually takes me about 2 hours of prep on a Sunday, and I don’t spend more than 5-10 mins in the kitchen for the rest of the week.
Question: What’s your favorite veggie? How do you prepare it? (always looking for new ideas!)