8 Quick and Easy Recipes for Weight Loss

By Cynthia Sass, M.P.H., R.D. |

These weight loss recipes also support the health goals of older adults, and all you need is 15 minutes for each.

weight loss recipes: Cali-Mix Turkey Taco Bowl

When it comes to losing weight, one of the biggest challenges is often adjusting your diet. It’s tempting to cut calories drastically or even entire food groups for speedy results—but that can backfire.

In fact, that’s a weight loss mistake people over 60 often make. As you age, your muscles and bones naturally become weaker, and your risk for heart problems goes up. It becomes even more important to get the right nutrients: protein for strong muscles, calcium for sturdy bones, fiber for a healthy heart, and so on.

The good news is choosing nutrient-dense foods, or foods that are rich in nutrients, can help you reach your weight loss and health goals. Even better, once you find a few cooking strategies and weight loss recipes that work for you, you’ll be able to whip up nutritious meals in just minutes. Try these.

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Cooking Strategies for Weight Loss

Sustainable weight loss is all about making small, healthy changes you can maintain. Here’s how to save yourself time, money, and energy in the kitchen.

Pick a few ingredients that you can use in multiple recipes. For example, chicken, bell peppers, and lemons are versatile foods.

Do a little meal prep. Poach or grill a few chicken breasts so you have lean protein ready to go in the fridge. The same goes for cooking a big batch of whole grains like quinoa or brown rice.

Take a shortcut with healthy instant and frozen foods. Look for whole foods prepared without additives, such as brown rice, precooked shrimp, and chopped vegetables. Check out our guide to the best freezer foods.

Keep flavor enhancers handy. Your sense of taste can change over time. Herbs and spices, as well as garlic, onions, lemons, and healthy oils, can boost flavor without adding too much salt, sugar, or fat.

Don’t forget about color. Bright green spinach, red tomatoes, yellow squash, and purple onions make for more appealing dishes. Plus, a variety of natural colors means you’re getting a range of antioxidants.

Recipe #1: The 7-Minute Chicken and Pear Salad

weight loss recipes: The 7-Minute Chicken and Pear Salad

Serves: 1

You’ll need:

  • 1 small ripe pear
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon salt-free Italian herb seasoning
  • 1 cup baby spinach leaves
  • 3 ounces cooked chicken breast, sliced or diced
  • ¼ cup minced red onion
  • ¼ cup minced red bell pepper

What to do: Dice pear and set aside.

Whisk together olive oil, Dijon, lemon juice, garlic, sea salt, and herb seasoning.

Arrange spinach in a bowl. Top with dressing, pear, chicken, onion, and bell pepper.

Recipe #2: Basil Balsamic Salmon Quinoa Salad

weight loss recipes: Basil Balsamic Salmon Quinoa Salad

Serves: 1

You’ll need:

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1½ tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • ½ tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground celery seed
  • Pinch black pepper
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 3 ounces canned wild Alaskan salmon
  • 6 grape tomatoes, quartered
  • ¼ cup minced red onion
  • ¼ cup minced yellow bell pepper
  • ½ cup baby spinach leaves
  • ½ cup cooked, chilled quinoa

What to do: In a medium sealable container, whisk together olive oil, balsamic, lemon juice, basil, garlic, celery seed, black pepper, and sea salt.

Add salmon, vegetables, and quinoa. Seal and gently shake to coat mixture thoroughly. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes, and serve when desired.

Recipe #3: Cali-Mix Turkey Taco Bowl

weight loss recipes: Cali-Mix Turkey Taco Bowl

Serves: 1

You’ll need:

  • 4 ounces extra lean ground turkey
  • ½ cup quartered grape tomatoes
  • ¼ cup minced yellow bell pepper
  • ¼ cup minced white onion
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh jalapeno
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1½ cups torn romaine leaves or other greens
  • ½ cup frozen, thawed corn
  • ¼ avocado, sliced

What to do:Brown turkey in a skillet and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, garlic, cayenne, cilantro, jalapeno, and lime juice.

Toss vegetable mixture with romaine leaves or other greens. Top with turkey, corn, and avocado.

Recipe #4: Zesty Tuna and Brown Rice Lettuce Boats

Zesty Tuna and Brown Rice Lettuce Boats

Serves: 1

You’ll need:

  • ¼ avocado
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Pinch black pepper
  • Pinch sea salt
  • ½ tablespoon water
  • 3 ounces chunk light tuna, canned in water
  • 8 grape tomatoes, quartered
  • ¼ cup finely minced yellow onion
  • ½ cup instant brown rice or frozen, precooked, thawed brown rice
  • 4 outer romaine leaves or other greens

What to do: In a small food processor, puree avocado with garlic, vinegar, lime juice, cilantro, black pepper, sea salt, and water until smooth.

Toss with tuna, tomatoes, onion, and brown rice.

Fill romaine leaves or other greens with mixture, roll up, and enjoy.

Recipe #5: Garlic Chicken “Scampi”

Garlic Chicken Scampi

Serves: 1

You’ll need:

  • ¼ cup minced yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup organic low-sodium vegetable broth, divided
  • 1 cup chopped zucchini
  • ¼ cup minced red bell pepper
  • ½ tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ⅛ teaspoon fresh grated lemon peel
  • ½ teaspoon dried parsley or 1 teaspoon fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 ounces cooked chicken breast, sliced or diced
  • ½ cup cooked wild rice

What to do: In a medium pan over low heat, sauté onion in olive oil and half of the broth. Cook for three to five minutes.

Add zucchini, bell pepper, remaining broth, lemon juice, lemon peel, parsley, garlic, black pepper, and sea salt to pan. Increase heat if needed, and cook for three to four minutes.

Add chicken to pan, and cook for two minutes.

Place rice on plate, and top with chicken and vegetable mixture.

Recipe #6: Shrimp and Veggie Cacciatore

Shrimp and Veggie Cacciatore

Serves: 1

You’ll need:

  • ¼ cup minced yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup organic low-sodium vegetable broth
  • ¾ cup grape tomatoes (about 16), halved
  • ¼ cup minced green bell pepper
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt-free Italian herb seasoning
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 ounces frozen, precooked, peeled, deveined shrimp
  • ½ cup cooked brown rice pasta

What to do: Sauté onion in olive oil and broth in a medium pan over low heat until onion is translucent. Add tomatoes, bell pepper, garlic, herb seasoning, black pepper, and lemon juice, and sauté until tomatoes are tender.

Thaw shrimp by running under cold water. Add shrimp to vegetable mixture, and stir to reheat through.

Place pasta on a plate, and top with vegetable and shrimp mixture.

Recipe #7: Salmon and Veggies in Ginger Almond Sauce

Salmon and Veggies in Ginger Almond Sauce

Serves: 1

You’ll need:

  • ¼ cup minced yellow onion
  • ¼ cup organic low-sodium vegetable broth
  • ½ cup broccoli, chopped into small florets
  • ¼ cup minced red bell pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped kale
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • Pinch crushed red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 3 ounces canned wild Alaskan salmon
  • ½ cup cooked buckwheat soba noodles

What to do: Sauté onion in broth in a medium pan over low heat until onion is translucent.

Add broccoli, bell pepper, and kale. Increase heat if needed, and sauté two to five more minutes.

Add garlic, ginger, turmeric, crushed red pepper, almond butter, and water, and stir until sauce is uniform.

Add salmon to heat through, and serve over noodles.

Recipe #8: Ginger Mint Turkey Stir-Fry

Ginger Mint Turkey Stir-Fry

Serves: 1

You’ll need:

  • 4 ounces extra lean ground turkey
  • ¼ cup minced yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup organic low-sodium vegetable broth
  • ¼ cup minced green bell pepper
  • ¼ cup minced red bell pepper
  • ½ cup chopped kale
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves
  • ⅛ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • ½ cup instant brown rice

What to do: Brown turkey in a skillet and set aside.

In a medium pan over low heat, sauté onion in olive oil and broth until onion is translucent.

Add bell peppers, kale, garlic, ginger, mint, and crushed red pepper, and sauté until bell peppers are slightly tender.

Add browned turkey to heat through, and serve over brown rice.

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Recipes: Cynthia Sass, M.P.H., R.D. Photos: George Karabotsos.

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