There’s no need to abandon your tried-and-true recipes, but you won’t regret adding these delicious (and healthy) meals to the mix!
Finish this sentence: My favorite go-to recipe is:
b. Easy to make
c. Super satisfying
d. A guaranteed crowd pleaser
e. All of the above
If you answered E (or really any of the above), you’re in luck. The three recipes below have all the same qualities as your all-time favorite dishes, with one added bonus: They’re new to you! That can be a major perk after whipping up the same meals for multiple decades, but in case you want another reason to try these dishes, they’re also packed with key nutrients older adults need.
Ready to find your new go-to dinner? Here are three top contenders.
Recipe #1: Sautéed Tilapia Provençal
This 30-minute fish recipe features tilapia, an inexpensive white fish you can find at any supermarket. It comes highly recommended by Michelle Dudash, R.D.N., a chef and author of Clean Eating Kitchen: The Low-Carb Mediterranean Cookbook. Dudash often makes this meal for her family, but it’s easy to divide the recipe in half when you’re cooking for two.
Another reason to love this dish: One four-ounce fillet of tilapia delivers about 75 percent of your daily need for vitamin B12, a nutrient that keeps nerve and blood cells healthy and protects against a type of anemia that can make you feel exhausted. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), vitamin B12 deficiencies are more common in people over 60, so it’s a good idea to eat more B12-rich foods when you reach that age.
When shopping for your ingredients, look for mushrooms that have been treated with ultraviolet (UV) light—often labeled as “enriched with vitamin D” or “containing 100 percent of your daily vitamin D.” It’s increasingly common for producers to do this before packaging and selling mushrooms, because UV light exposure drastically increases their amount of vitamin D, another important nutrient for healthy aging.
For example, one cup of UV-treated button mushrooms contains about 1,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D, or more than 100 percent of what older adults need in a day. One cup of non-UV treated mushrooms, on the other hand, only contains about 7 IU of vitamin D.
Nutritional value aside, this recipe is truly delicious. A lot of the flavor comes from herbs, tomatoes, and olives, and if you’re not a fan of tilapia, you can substitute any fish you like.
1 pound tilapia fillets (or four 4-ounce fillets)
½ teaspoon salt, divided
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup almond flour or meal
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 or 2 garlic cloves, peeled and quartered
1 8-ounce container button mushrooms, quartered
2 medium tomatoes, chopped (or 1½ cups halved cherry tomatoes)
3 tablespoons dry white wine
¼ cup olives, sliced or filleted
Fresh tiny basil leaves or coarsely chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
What to do: Season the tilapia with ¼ teaspoon of the salt and some pepper, then coat in the almond flour.
Heat a large sauté pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.
When the oil is shimmering, add the tilapia. Cook until browned on one side and cooked nearly halfway through, about 4 minutes. Turn and cook through, about 2 minutes. Transfer the tilapia to a plate and scrape out any almond flour bits from the pan.
Put the pan back on the heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the garlic and mushrooms. Sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and wine and simmer over medium heat until the tomatoes are softened, about 3 minutes.
Stir in the olives, the remaining ¼ teaspoon of salt, and some pepper.
Plate the tilapia and spoon the tomatoes and mushrooms over the fish. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with herbs. Serve with lemon wedges.
Recipe #2: Braised Chicken Thighs with Mushrooms
Another one of Dudash’s favorites, this recipe trades ho-hum chicken breasts for flavor-packed thighs. Dudash suggests using skinless chicken thighs, which contain less saturated fat than the skin-on version.
Go ahead and make the full recipe, even if you’re only feeding one or two people. The leftovers keep well and are easy to reheat for lunch or another dinner. Once you’ve mastered it, try subbing in carrots, sweet potatoes, or winter squash for the red potatoes.
1 ¼ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, fat trimmed
½ teaspoon salt, divided
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 8-ounce package baby bella mushrooms, sliced
¼ medium onion, sliced ¼-inch thick
1 tablespoon tomato paste
¼ cup dry red wine
1 cup small red potatoes, quartered, then thinly sliced
¾ cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
What to do: Season the chicken with ¼ teaspoon of the salt and some pepper. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, and add the oil.
When the oil is shimmering, add the chicken to the skillet. Brown on one side, about 7 minutes, and then transfer to a plate (you’ll finish cooking on the other side later).
Reduce the heat to low and add the mushrooms to the pan, browning them for about 10 minutes. About halfway through cooking the mushrooms, add the onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes, scraping up the delicious brown bits from the bottom of the pan using a wooden spoon.
Add the tomato paste to the pan and brown it a bit, about 1 minute. Pour in the wine, stir, and simmer to reduce the wine by half, a few minutes.
Add the potatoes, broth, herbes de Provence, and the remaining ¼ teaspoon of salt, and simmer to thicken the broth, about 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork-tender.
Finally, add the chicken back to the pan to finish cooking on the other side, a few minutes. Transfer servings to a plate and enjoy!
Recipe #3: Easy Lentil Veggie Stew
If you’re used to cooking meaty stews, why not switch things up with this plant-based lentil version from McKenzie Caldwell, M.P.H., R.D.N., owner of Feed Your Zest Nutrition and Wellness? It’s packed with flavor and belly-filling fiber, thanks to the lentils and a hefty dose of veggies.
Bonus: You can freeze the leftovers and defrost them in the refrigerator any time you need a quick and healthy lunch—for up to three months!
Serves: 10 to 12
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup diced carrot
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
16 ounces dry red lentils, rinsed and sorted
1 cup frozen chopped spinach
1 teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
32 ounces chicken, veggie, or bone broth
1 cup water
Additional salt and pepper to taste
Optional: baguette or whole-grain toast
What to do: Heat oil in the bottom of a large stock pot over medium heat. Add the carrot, celery, and onion (a mixture known as mirepoix), along with the garlic, and sauté until onions are soft and translucent.
Stir in lentils, spinach, turmeric, and pepper until the lentils are evenly coated with oil. Let cook for 1 to 2 minutes, then add the can of tomatoes, broth, and water.
Once the stew is at a rolling boil, reduce to a simmer and cover with a lid. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until lentils, carrots, and celery are soft, stirring occasionally.
Taste, and add additional salt and pepper, if desired. If you want a more soup-like consistency, add more water.
Serve hot with a crusty baguette or whole-grain toast, and enjoy!
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