MSK CATCH Nutrition Plan

This information for people in the MSK CATCH clinic can help you make healthy food choices to lower your cancer risk. It also includes a sample meal plan you can follow.

For more information about MSK CATCH, read the resource MSK CATCH: Expert advice on hereditary cancer syndromes.

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Benefits of Following a Healthy Diet

What you eat matters. Meals that include healthy foods can be delicious to eat and vital to your overall well-being. By making healthy food choices, you can lower your cancer risk by:

  • Staying at or reaching a healthy weight for you
  • Having less extra body fat
  • Supporting a healthy microbiome (the good bacteria living in your digestive tract)
  • Helping your immune system work better
  • Helping your body carry out essential functions and repair itself

This resource can help you to eat right to lower your cancer risk.

  • If you’re new to healthy eating or need help to gradually make a change, read our advice on how to adopt healthy eating habits.
  • Ready to make a change right away? Follow the detailed sample meal plan with recipe suggestions.
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Adopting Healthy Eating Habits

For many people, food is as much about the pleasure of eating—the flavors and smells—as it is about nutrition. When thinking about what you eat, it’s important to find foods that do both. The more you enjoy your food, the more likely you are to keep eating healthy.

We understand it can be hard to change your eating habits. You don’t have to change everything at once. You can make gradual shifts towards a healthier, more plant-based diet. Small changes can add up over time.

Think about these ideas for starting new healthy eating habits:

  • Try a new recipe. Visit www.mskcc.org/nutrition for ideas.
  • Practice mindful eating. Make a point to taste, smell, and use all your senses when you eat. Take your time with meals as best as you can.
  • Find ways to manage stress that don’t involve eating so food isn’t your first go-to.
  • When dining out, be mindful of portions. Most restaurants offer much larger portions than most of us need to eat during one meal.
  • Know what’s in the food you’re eating. Learn how to read and understand food labels. Claims made on the front of the packaging are often misleading.
  • You can have structure without being rigid in your meal planning. Try to stick with a routine most days, but don’t let unexpected schedule changes derail you.
  • Try to include at least one vegetable or fruit with every meal or most meals. Organize your kitchen to encourage better food choices. For example, try putting fresh fruits and vegetables or individual yogurts at the front of the top shelf in your fridge.
  • If there are foods or drinks you know you don’t want to eat, don’t bring them into your house. We tend to eat what we see and what’s easy to get.
  • Remember that healthy eating happens over a lifetime, not in a week or a day. Long-term sustainable eating patterns work better than quick fixes.
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Food Choices to Lower Your Cancer Risk

We recommend a mostly whole-food plant-based diet for lowering your cancer risk. Whole foods are foods that are close to their natural state and aren’t very processed. For example, plain instant oatmeal and Corn Flakes® are both packaged foods, but oatmeal is more of a whole food.

A whole-food plant-based diet is made up of many different fruits, vegetables, cereals, legumes (such as beans, peas, and lentils), poultry, fish, nuts, seeds, and olive oil. This model of healthy eating supports better health and overall quality of life. It can also lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, certain cancers, and death.

It’s OK to include some animal products (such as poultry, fish, eggs, and yogurt) in your diet, but try to build your diet around mostly plant-based whole foods. Examples include:

  • Vegetables such as carrots, asparagus, cauliflower, tomatoes, broccoli, spinach, brussels sprouts, garlic, kale, collards, and squash
  • Fruits such as apples, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cherries, grapes, mangoes, and oranges
  • Whole grains such as oatmeal, brown or wild rice, whole wheat, quinoa, barley, and buckwheat
  • Beans and legumes such as peas, tofu, tempeh, chickpeas, red beans, and lentils
  • Nuts and seeds such as pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews, walnuts, and peanuts or peanut butter
  • Other whole plant foods such as tea, coffee, and culinary spices and herbs

Limit red meat and highly processed foods, such as:

  • Fast foods
  • Processed meats (such as deli meats, hot dogs, sausage, salami, and bacon)
  • Sugar-sweetened drinks
  • Alcohol
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Sample Meal Plan

If you like more structure in the meals you eat each week, follow this sample meal plan. Remember that this meal plan is just an example. You can include other whole food, plant-based meals. You can also change any of these recipes based on your lifestyle, the foods you like, or the ingredients you already have.

Here’s the basic outline of what a week’s meal plan could look like. For the recipes for these meals, click the meal name or read the “Recipes” section below.

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Recipes

These recipes are listed in alphabetical order.

Banana pancakes

Enjoy these banana pancakes as an alternative to traditional pancakes.

Makes 1 serving.

Ingredients

  • 2 large egg whites or ¼ cup liquid egg whites
  • 1 ripe medium banana, mashed
  • 2 tablespoons instant oats
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
  • Cooking spray
  • Toppings, such as fresh fruit, plain yogurt, creamy nut butter, or a small amount (about 1 tablespoon) of a sweetener such as maple syrup or honey (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg whites until they’re frothy. Add the banana, oats, and cinnamon (if using). Stir until combined.
  2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Lightly coat the skillet with cooking spray. Spoon the batter onto the hot skillet to form 3 small pancakes. Cook until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.
  3. Add any toppings you’re using.
Nutritional information for banana pancakes
Calories 180 calories
Carbohydrates 35 grams
Fat 1 gram
Fiber 4 grams
Protein 9 grams
Sodium 105 milligrams
Sugar 15 grams

Black bean, corn, and quinoa salad

You can make this quinoa salad as a fresh and filling side dish or main meal.

  • Prep time: 45 minutes
  • Cook time: 25 minutes
  • Total time: 70 minutes

Makes 6 servings.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup red quinoa
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans (1¾ cup cooked)
  • 1 (15.25-ounce) can corn, drained
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 avocado, diced

Instructions

  1. Rinse the fresh produce well under warm running water for 20 seconds. Scrub it to remove any dirt.
  2. Rinse the quinoa in a fine-mesh colander under running water for at least 30 seconds. Drain it well.
    • Washing the quinoa well before cooking it helps remove bitterness caused by naturally-occurring saponins. Saponins are healthy chemical compounds found in quinoa and other plant-based foods.
  3. In a saucepan, bring the rinsed quinoa and water to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat and let it simmer until the quinoa has absorbed the liquid, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the pan from heat, cover it, and let it stand for 5 minutes.
  4. When the quinoa is cool, add it to a large bowl with the beans, corn, bell pepper, tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, lime juice and zest, cilantro, and salt. Mix well. Cover the mixture and chill it in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight.
  5. To serve, bring the salad to room temperature. Add the avocado and mix gently to combine.
Nutritional information for black bean, corn, and quinoa salad
Calories 340 calories
Carbohydrates 38 grams
Fat 19 grams
Saturated fat 2.5 grams
Fiber 9 grams
Protein 8 grams
Sodium 320 milligrams
Sugar 10 grams

Breakfast egg cups

These egg cups are a great high-protein breakfast to give you long-lasting energy in the morning. You can also eat them as a snack at any time of day.

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Total time: 25 minutes

Makes 6 servings.

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 small russet potato, peeled and diced
  • 8 eggs
  • ½ cup cottage cheese
  • 2 ounces cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 small bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 °F (175 °C). Grease a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray or line it with muffin cups or parchment paper.
  2. Put the potato in a microwave-safe dish. Cover it and microwave it for 5 minutes. Then, let it sit for 5 minutes.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs. Add the cottage cheese, cheddar cheese, bell pepper, ketchup, and cooked potato. Divide the mixture evenly into the prepared muffin tin.
  4. Bake until the tops are golden, about 15 to 18 minutes. The egg cups should be 160 °F (71 °C) or higher using an instant-read thermometer stuck in the middle of a cup.
Nutritional information for breakfast egg cups
Calories 160 calories
Carbohydrates 9 grams
Cholesterol 240 milligrams
Fat 7 grams
Saturated fat 2.5 grams
Fiber 1 gram
Protein 13 grams
Sodium 260 milligrams
Sugar 5 grams

Buffalo cauliflower bites

This snack is low in calories since the cauliflower is baked instead of fried.

The cauliflower is coated in brown rice flour or chickpea flour. Both of these ingredients are higher in fiber than all-purpose flour, helping you feel full longer. They’re higher in protein too.

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 45 minutes
  • Total time: 50 minutes

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • 2 medium heads cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 1 cup brown rice flour or chickpea flour (or any flour you have)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 1⅓ cups hot sauce (such as Frank’s® Hot Sauce)

Instructions

  1. Rinse the fresh produce well under warm running water for 20 seconds. Scrub it to remove any dirt.
  2. Preheat the oven to 450 °F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or spray it with cooking spray.
  3. Toss the cauliflower florets with the flour, water, garlic powder, and salt. Put them on the prepared baking sheet and bake them for 20 minutes.
  4. In a small saucepan, melt the butter with the hot sauce. Pour the mixture over the baked cauliflower and toss to coat.
  5. Put the cauliflower back in the oven and bake for another 20 minutes. The temperature inside the cauliflower should be 145 °F using an instant-read thermometer. Serve warm.
Nutritional information for buffalo cauliflower bites
Calories 130 calories
Carbohydrates 20 grams
Fat 3 grams
Saturated fat 1 gram
Fiber 7 grams
Protein 7 grams
Sodium 1,780 milligrams
Sugar 5 grams

Caribbean craze smoothie

Smoothies are easy to make and easy to digest. We often recommend Greek yogurt for smoothies because it tends to have more protein than other yogurts.

Makes 2 servings.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • 6 cherries, pitted
  • ¼ cup frozen sliced peaches
  • ¼ cup frozen mango chunks
  • ½ cup reduced-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 3 drops vanilla extract
  • 4 ice cubes

Instructions

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a blender. Pulse until smooth.
Nutritional information for Caribbean craze smoothie
Calories 230 calories
Carbohydrates 18 grams
Fat 16 grams
Saturated fat 13 grams
Fiber 3 grams
Protein 7 grams
Sodium 30 milligrams
Sugar 14 grams

Cauliflower hummus

Getting bored of classic chickpea hummus? Use cauliflower instead! Enjoy it with whole-wheat pita bread or fresh veggies.

Makes 8 servings.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium head cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • Cooking spray or oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ⅓ cup tahini (or cashew butter or sesame oil)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for garnish
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, for garnish
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 °F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or spray it with cooking spray.
  2. Place the cauliflower florets on a baking sheet. Coat them with a little extra oil or cooking spray. Roast them for 40 minutes, stirring halfway through. Then, take them out of the oven and let them cool.
  3. In a food processor, combine the cauliflower and the garlic, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Process until smooth. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time for a thinner consistency, if you’d like.
  4. Move the hummus to a bowl. Drizzle it with olive oil and sprinkle with parsley, if you’d like.
  5. Serve with lemon wedges.
Nutritional information for cauliflower hummus
Calories 89 calories
Carbohydrates 5 grams
Fat 7 grams
Protein 3 grams
Sodium 69 milligrams

Cauliflower rice with sautéed vegetables

Even though it’s low in fat, this cauliflower rice side dish is hearty. To save time, use frozen cauliflower rice.

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 25 minutes
  • Total time: 35 minutes

Makes 4 servings.

Ingredients

  • 5 cups cauliflower florets (about 1½ heads cauliflower)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ½ red bell pepper, coarsely chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • ½ yellow bell pepper, coarsely chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • ½ zucchini, coarsely chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • ½ yellow summer squash, coarsely chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chicken broth

Instructions

  1. Rinse the fresh produce well under warm running water for 20 seconds. Scrub it to remove any dirt, then set it aside.
  2. Put the cauliflower in a food processor and pulse several times until cauliflower looks like rice.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Add the bell peppers, zucchini, and squash to the skillet. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to soften, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  5. Add the cauliflower rice and chicken broth to the skillet and stir well. Cook until chicken broth reduces by half and vegetables are fully cooked. The temperature inside the cauliflower rice should be 145 °F using an instant-read thermometer.
Nutritional information for cauliflower rice with sautéed vegetables
Calories 90 calories
Carbohydrates 11 grams
Fat 4 grams
Saturated fat 0.5 grams
Fiber 4 grams
Protein 4 grams
Sodium 140 milligrams
Sugar 5 grams

Chicken tamale pie

This casserole dish, made with a sprinkling of low-fat cheddar, relies on herbs and spices for flavor rather than fat or salt. Using more salt-free seasonings when you’re cooking can help when you’re trying to follow a healthy diet.

Makes 6 servings.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup cornmeal
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 to 2 cups of baked chicken, shredded
  • 1 cup low-sodium tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • ¼ cup low-fat cheddar cheese, grated
  • Fresh cilantro (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 °F.
  2. Combine the cornmeal and chicken broth in a medium saucepan. Cook it over medium heat, stirring often, until the mixture thickens. Let it cool 5 minutes.
  3. Lightly coat a small casserole dish with cooking spray.
  4. Spread the cornmeal mixture on the bottom of the casserole dish to create a base.
  5. Spread the shredded chicken on top of the cornmeal mixture.
  6. Pour the tomato sauce into a small bowl. Stir in the garlic powder, oregano, and thyme.
  7. Evenly spread the tomato sauce over the chicken. Sprinkle it with grated cheese.
  8. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese melts.
  9. Garnish with fresh cilantro, if you’d like.
Nutritional information for chicken tamale pie
Calories 227 calories
Carbohydrates 15 grams
Fat 4 grams
Saturated fat 2 grams
Fiber 1 grams
Protein 9 grams
Sodium 303 milligrams
Sugar 2 grams

Creamy banana smoothie

Makes 1 serving.

Ingredients

  • ⅓ cup canned, fresh, or frozen sliced peaches
  • ⅓ cup low-fat milk, nonfat milk, or non-dairy milk alternative (such as soy milk, oat milk, or almond milk)
  • ½ banana
  • 3 drops vanilla extract
  • 4 ice cubes

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in blender. Pulse until smooth.
Nutritional information for creamy banana smoothie
Calories 130 calories
Carbohydrates 32 grams
Fat 1 gram
Saturated fat 0 grams
Fiber 3 grams
Protein 1 gram
Sodium 35 milligrams
Sugar 20 grams

Edamame hummus

Packed with protein, edamame makes the perfect snack when you need a midday boost.

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 10 minutes
  • Total time: 20 minutes

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups frozen shelled edamame
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro leaves
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Rinse the fresh produce well under warm running water for 20 seconds.
  2. Boil water in a medium saucepan. Add the edamame and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Drain the water from the edamame and rinse it under cold water to keep it from cooking more.
  3. Add the cooked edamame, tahini, garlic, olive oil, cilantro, and lemon juice to a food processor or blender and pulse until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Serve the hummus right away or put it in an airtight container. You can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Nutritional information for edamame hummus
Calories 150 calories
Carbohydrates 10 grams
Fat 9 grams
Saturated fat 1 gram
Fiber 4 grams
Protein 7 grams
Sodium 20 milligrams
Sugar 1 gram

Fall harvest salad

Filled with fall vegetables, this quinoa salad offers a healthy dose of fiber and protein.

  • Prep time: 30 minutes
  • Cook time: 60 minutes
  • Total time: 90 minutes

Makes 4 servings.

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups chopped butternut or kabocha squash, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1½ cups chopped carrot, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1½ cups chopped sweet potato, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • Salt
  • 2 medium shallots, peeled, halved, and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Pepper
  • ½ cup toasted, hulled pumpkin seeds
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa

Instructions

  1. Rinse the fresh produce well under warm running water for 20 seconds. Scrub it to remove any dirt.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 °F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Toss the squash, carrot, and sweet potato with 1 teaspoon of olive oil, the thyme, and a generous pinch of salt. Spread them in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes.
  4. Turn the vegetables over and add the shallots to the baking sheet. Bake for 15 more minutes.
  5. While the vegetables are cooking, whisk together the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil, the lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste in a large bowl. Stir in the pumpkin seeds and cooked quinoa.
  6. When the vegetables are tender, let them cool slightly. Then, add them to the quinoa mixture and stir to combine.
Nutritional information for fall harvest salad
Calories 350 calories
Carbohydrates 48g
Fat 15g
Saturated fat 2g
Fiber 8g
Protein 8g
Sodium 70mg
Sugar 7g

Greek-style grilled chicken with fresh tomatoes and cucumbers

It’s the blend of fresh herbs and lemon that gives Greek dishes their flavor without adding extra calories. Round out this chicken entrée with a salad of chopped fresh tomatoes and cucumber.

Makes 4 servings.

Ingredients

  • ⅛ cup olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 4 boneless, skinless 5-ounce chicken breasts
  • Oil for grill grate

Instructions

  1. In a large glass dish, mix the olive oil, garlic, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and lemon juice. Add the chicken, spooning the mixture over it. Cover the dish and marinate in the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight.
  2. Preheat the grill on high heat.
  3. Lightly oil the grill grate. Place the chicken on the grill. Throw away the marinade.
  4. Cook the chicken pieces up to 6 minutes per side, until the juices run clear and the temperature inside the chicken is 165 °F as measured by a meat thermometer.
Nutritional information for Greek-style grilled chicken with fresh tomatoes and cucumbers
Calories 190 calories
Carbohydrates 1 gram
Fat 8 grams
Saturated fat 0 grams
Fiber 0 grams
Sodium 51 milligrams
Sugar 0 grams

Herbed avocado egg salad

Replace the mayonnaise with avocado and creamy nonfat Greek yogurt and you have an egg salad that’s heart-healthy and protein-rich. Serve it on a slice of bread or with salad greens.

  • Prep time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes

Makes 6 servings.

Ingredients

  • 10 eggs
  • 1 avocado
  • ½ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives
  • 1 tablespoon chopped dill
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Instructions

  1. Place the eggs in a saucepan. Fill the saucepan with water so the eggs are covered. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and let the eggs rest in the water for 8 to 10 minutes.
  2. Remove the eggs from the saucepan and run them under cold water. Once they’re cool, peel them. Throw away the eggshells.
  3. Mash the avocado and eggs together until they’re textured and chunky in consistency. Add the yogurt, mustard, lemon juice, and herbs. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with olive oil.
  4. Serve chilled or at room temperature. Transfer salad to a bowl if serving right away or to an airtight container if saving for later. You can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Nutritional information for herbed avocado egg salad
Calories 230 calories
Carbohydrates 5 grams
Fat 18 grams
Saturated fat 5 grams
Fiber 2 grams
Protein 13 grams
Sodium 125 milligrams
Sugar 2 grams

Lime and coconut chicken

The whole family will enjoy these flavorful chicken breasts. Marinate them ahead of time and you’ll need only a few minutes to cook the chicken on the stovetop.

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Total time: 45 minutes

Makes 4 servings.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 lime
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1½ teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Instructions

  1. Using a meat tenderizer, pound the chicken breasts between sheets of wax paper until they’re ⅛-inch thick.
  2. Zest the lime into a large bowl. Then, slice the lime into wedges and set it aside.
  3. Add the oil, coconut milk, soy sauce, sugar, curry, coriander, cumin, and salt to the lime zest and whisk to combine. Add the chicken and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate the bowl for 1 to 2 hours.
  4. Remove the chicken, saving the marinade. Using a hot sauté pan, grill pan, or cast-iron skillet, brown the chicken on both sides. The chicken should be 165 °F using an instant-read thermometer stuck in the thickest part of the breast.
  5. Meanwhile, pour the marinade into a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat and let it simmer for 2 minutes, stirring to keep it from burning.
  6. Serve the sauce over the chicken with cilantro and reserved lime wedges.
Nutritional information for lime and coconut chicken
Calories 330 calories
Carbohydrates 10 grams
Fat 20 grams
Saturated fat 7 grams
Fiber 1 gram
Protein 28 grams
Sodium 1,370 milligrams
Sugar 7 grams

Oven-baked chicken fajitas

Serve this energizing dish with flour or corn tortillas or on a bed of brown rice.

  • Prep time: 20 minutes

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • ½ tablespoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 large onion, sliced in ¼-inch-wide strips
  • 3 bell peppers, any color, sliced in ¼-inch-wide strips
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, sliced in ¼-inch-wide strips
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 8 (6-inch) tortillas (flour or corn)
  • ½ cup sour cream (optional)
  • ¼ bunch fresh cilantro (optional)

Instructions

  1. Rinse the fresh produce well under warm running water for 20 seconds. Scrub it to remove any dirt.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 °F.
  3. Mix the chili powder, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, cayenne, sugar, and salt in a small bowl. Set it aside.
  4. Spread the onions and bell peppers in a 13x15 casserole dish or on a large rimmed baking sheet. Top them with the sliced chicken. Drizzle the oil over the chicken and vegetables, then sprinkle the seasoning mixture on top. Toss until combined.
  5. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, stirring once halfway through. The inside temperature of the of fajitas should be 165 °F using an instant-read thermometer.
  6. Sprinkle the lime juice over the fajitas. Serve them right away with tortillas and, if using, sour cream and cilantro.
Nutritional information for oven-baked chicken fajitas
Calories 300 calories
Carbohydrates 12 grams
Fat 12 grams
Saturated fat 2 grams
Fiber 5 grams
Protein 37 grams
Sodium 270 milligrams
Sugar 6 grams

Overnight oats

Overnight oats make for an energizing, iron- and protein-rich breakfast. Top with peanut butter or sliced almonds for extra protein.

Makes 1 serving.

Ingredients

  • ⅓ cup rolled oats
  • ½ cup low-fat milk
  • ⅓ cup nonfat plain yogurt (Greek or regular)
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and let them soak overnight in refrigerator. Stir well before serving.
Nutritional information for overnight oats
Calories 270 calories
Carbohydrates 45 grams
Fat 3.5 grams
Saturated fat 1 gram
Fiber 5 grams
Protein 17 grams
Sodium 85 milligrams
Sugar 24 grams

Quinoa salad with feta

You can serve this zesty, versatile dish as a side, appetizer, or even the base of a hearty salad.

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 25 minutes
  • Total time: 35 minutes

Makes 8 servings.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups quinoa
  • 3½ cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • ⅔ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ cup diced cucumber, peeled and seeded
  • ½ cup minced red onions
  • 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Rinse the fresh produce well under warm running water for 20 seconds. Scrub it to remove any dirt.
  2. Rinse the quinoa in a fine-mesh colander under running water for at least 30 seconds. Drain it well.
    • Washing the quinoa well before cooking it helps remove the bitterness caused by naturally-occurring saponins. Saponins are healthy chemical compounds found in quinoa and other plant-based foods.
  3. In a saucepan, bring the rinsed quinoa and broth to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and cover the saucepan. Let it simmer until the quinoa is tender and the broth is absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes. Then, transfer it to a large bowl and set it aside to cool.
  4. Add the tomatoes, parsley, cucumber, onions, feta, olive oil, vinegar, and garlic to the cooled quinoa and mix to combine. Pour the lemon juice over the quinoa salad and season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss to coat. Refrigerate the salad until you’re ready to serve it.
Nutritional information for quinoa salad with feta
Calories 260 calories
Carbohydrates 31 grams
Fat 11 grams
Saturated fat 3 grams
Fiber 4 grams
Protein 9 grams
Sodium 260 milligrams
Sugar 4 grams

Spaghetti squash casserole with broccoli and chicken

This protein-rich main course works with a variety of diets and can serve the whole family.

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 45 minutes
  • Total time: 65 minutes

Makes 6 servings.

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound chicken breast, diced
  • 2 cups broccoli florets, chopped
  • ½ cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1½ cups grated part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
  • ¼ cup panko breadcrumbs

Instructions

  1. Rinse the fresh produce well under warm running water for 20 seconds. Scrub it to remove any dirt.
  2. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 °F.
  3. Place the squash cut-side down on a microwave-safe dish. Add water and microwave it on high until the flesh is tender, about 12 to 14 minutes. When it’s cool, scrape the flesh from the rind in spaghetti-like strands.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and chicken and cook until the chicken is browned on all sides. Add the broccoli and broth and cook for 2 minutes.
  5. In a large bowl, toss the shredded spaghetti squash and chicken mixture with ¾ cup mozzarella, 2 tablespoons Parmesan, the Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Spread it in an oven-safe casserole dish. Sprinkle it with remaining ¾ cup mozzarella and 6 tablespoons of Parmesan and top it with the breadcrumbs.
  6. Bake on lower rack of oven for 15 minutes. Then, move it to the upper rack and increase the heat to 425 °F. Bake until the cheese browns, about 3 to 5 more minutes. The casserole should be 165 °F or higher using an instant-read thermometer stuck in the middle of the dish.
Nutritional information for spaghetti squash casserole with broccoli and chicken
Calories 250 calories
Carbohydrates 14 grams
Fat 11 grams
Saturated fat 5 grams
Fiber 3 grams
Protein 27 grams
Sodium 690 milligrams
Sugar 3 grams

Spiced chickpeas

The next time you’re craving potato chips, reach for this snack instead. The key is to make sure the chickpeas are well-dried before you put them in the oven. They should look dull (not shiny) after you blot them with paper towels.

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Total time: 40 minutes

Makes 4 servings.

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, no salt added or low sodium, drained

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 °F.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, use a small whisk to combine the cumin, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, black pepper, and cayenne. Add the oil and whisk to combine.
  3. Put a double layer of paper towels on a counter or table. Rinse the chickpeas in a colander. Shake them well, then spread them evenly across the paper towels. Blot the chickpeas using a clean paper towel. Repeat as needed until the chickpeas are completely dry.
  4. Add the chickpeas to the spice mixture. Using your fingers, gently mix and massage them until they’re evenly coated.
  5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the chickpeas evenly across the pan.
  6. Bake, rotating the sheet every 8 minutes, until the chickpeas are firm, about 24 to 32 minutes.
  7. Remove the sheet from the oven and let the chickpeas cool. Serve them right away or move them to an airtight container. You can store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Nutritional information for spiced chickpeas
Calories 170 calories
Carbohydrates 20 grams
Fat 8 grams
Saturated fat 1 gram
Fiber 5 grams
Protein 6 grams
Sodium 100 milligrams
Sugar 1 gram

Stovetop eggplant barley paella

You can adapt this recipe for any season with whatever seasonal produce you have. Instead of eggplant, try zucchini in the summer or mushrooms in the fall.

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 60 minutes
  • Total time: 75 minutes

Makes 4 servings.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups pearl barley, washed
  • 5 cups water
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 sprig flat-leaf parsley, plus 3 tablespoons chopped
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed and sliced
  • 2 sprigs thyme, leaves stripped
  • 2 shallots or 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 poblano pepper, seeded, ribbed, and cut into thin strips
  • 1 eggplant, cut into ¼-inch pieces
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

Instructions

  1. Rinse the fresh produce well under warm running water for 20 seconds. Scrub it to remove any dirt.
  2. Put the barley in a pot with the water, vegetable stock, parsley sprig, a good pinch of salt, and a drizzle of olive oil. Bring it to a boil, then lower the heat and let it simmer, covered, until the barley is slightly undercooked, about 25 to 30 minutes. (You’ll cook it more later.)
  3. While the barley is cooking, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat in a large frying pan. Add the garlic and thyme and cook until the garlic starts to brown.
  4. Add the shallots and poblano pepper to the frying pan. Cook, stirring, until the pepper softens and the shallots start to caramelize.
  5. Add the eggplant and 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley to the frying pan. Cook for a few minutes.
  6. Add the cumin and paprika to the frying pan and cook for 1 minute. Then, add the bay leaf and a pinch of salt. Mix well and cook until the eggplant softens, about 7 to 10 minutes.
  7. Add the lemon juice to the frying pan and cook until the consistency is syrupy. Cover it and lower the heat to low. Let it simmer for 10 minutes.
  8. Remove the parsley sprig from the barley and the bay leaf from the frying pan. Add the semi-cooked barley (and any cooking liquid left in the pot) to the eggplant mixture. Bring it to a boil, then lower the heat and let it simmer, stirring occasionally, until the barley is al dente, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  9. Stir in the cilantro and remaining 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, heat it through, and serve. The paella should be 145 °F or higher using an instant-read thermometer stuck in the middle of the dish.
Nutritional information for stovetop eggplant barley paella
Calories 480 calories
Carbohydrates 94 grams
Fat 9 grams
Saturated fat 1.5 grams
Fiber 21 grams
Protein 12 grams
Sodium 160 milligrams
Sugar 9 grams

Thai turkey meatballs with coconut rice

This flavorful dish includes mango and coconut milk, both excellent sources of potassium.

  • Prep time: 25 minutes
  • Cook time: 45 minutes
  • Total time: 70 minutes

Makes 4 servings.

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray or oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Thai chili paste
  • 1 tablespoon Thai curry paste
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • Cayenne pepper
  • 1 pound lean (93%) ground turkey
  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 scallion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup jasmine rice
  • ½ cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 cup water
  • Salt
  • 1 cup chopped mango
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Grease a baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the egg, soy sauce, chili paste, curry paste, ginger, garlic, and a pinch of cayenne. Add the turkey, breadcrumbs, and scallion and stir well to combine. Roll the mixture into 1-inch balls, packing it firmly. The mixture should yield about 30 meatballs. Move them to the prepared baking sheet.
  3. Prepare the rice. In a saucepan, combine the rice, coconut milk, water, and salt. Bring it to a boil over medium heat. Cover it, lower the heat, and let it simmer for 20 minutes, until the rice is tender.
  4. Bake the meatballs, turning once halfway through, until they’re firm and cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes. The meatballs should be 165 °F using an instant-read thermometer stuck into the center of a meatball.
  5. Serve the meatballs alongside the rice, mango, lime juice, and cilantro.
Nutritional information for thai turkey meatballs with coconut rice
Calories 480 calories
Carbohydrates 53 grams
Fat 17 grams
Saturated fat 8 grams
Fiber 1 gram
Protein 28 grams
Sodium 470 milligrams
Sugar 7 grams

Yogurt parfait with banana, peanut butter, and corn flakes

This parfait works well with many different diet types and is loaded with 33 grams of protein.

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes

Makes 1 serving.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons natural creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ medium banana, sliced
  • ¼ cup corn flakes cereal

Instructions

  1. In a small microwave-safe dish, microwave the peanut butter until it’s thin and easy to pour, about 10 to 20 seconds.
  2. Spoon ½ cup of the yogurt into a bowl or airtight container. Arrange half of the sliced banana over the yogurt. Drizzle half of the melted peanut butter over the banana. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of cereal over peanut butter. Layer the remaining yogurt, banana, peanut butter, and cereal.
  3. Serve right away or chill. You can store the parfait in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Nutritional information for yogurt parfait with banana, peanut butter, and corn flakes
Calories 450 calories
Carbohydrates 36 grams
Fat 21 grams
Saturated fat 6 grams
Fiber 4 grams
Protein 33 grams
Sodium 300 milligrams
Sugar 23 grams
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