With these quick and easy recipes, your resolution is sure to last well beyond January.
Whether it’s slashing sugar, packing in more produce, or increasing fiber, nutrition-related goals are some of the most common New Year’s resolutions people make.
And while it may be easy to clean up your diet for the first few weeks in January, actually sticking to your healthy-eating intentions for the remaining 11 months of the year is another story. Life gets busy, motivation wanes, and suddenly your recycling bin is filled with takeout containers.
This doesn’t have to be your reality this year. Instead, arm yourself with a set of quick and easy meal ideas that you’ll feel great about eating. All of the nutrient-packed recipes below came straight from nutrition experts and take about 15 minutes to make.
1. Hearty Kale Salad
“This kale salad is filling, simple to make, and a sure crowd-pleaser,” says Isabel Smith, R.D., founder of Isabel Smith Nutrition, Inc. She suggests topping it with your favorite protein, such as grilled chicken or tofu, to make it a complete meal.
Photo: Isabel Smith, R.D.
- 2 heads of kale
- ½ sweet potato, cubed and roasted
- ½ cup pomegranate seeds
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
- Salt and pepper
What to do: Wash and dry kale, and cut off stems. In a salad bowl, combine kale, sweet potato, and pomegranate seeds. In a separate bowl, mix together olive oil, lemon or lime juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Pour over salad. Use your hands to massage dressing into kale. Top with protein of choice.
2. Black Bean Chili with Quinoa
The ingredients list may be on the longer side, but this chili only needs 15 minutes on the stove for the flavors to develop. “I love this recipe because it’s a one-bowl meal loaded with veggies, beans, and whole grains,” says Los Angeles–based Vandana Sheth, R.D.N., a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Photo: Vandana Sheth, R.D.N
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa
- 2 cups water or broth
- 1 to 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 medium green bell pepper, diced
- 1 to 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
- 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 cans black beans
- 1 can (14 ounces) stewed tomatoes
- 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro
What to do: Place quinoa in a strainer, and rinse thoroughly with cool water. Add to a pot with 2 cups of water or broth, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook, covered, for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large nonstick pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper, jalapeno, and garlic. Cook and stir often, until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add spices, black beans, and tomatoes, and simmer for about 10 minutes.
Remove quinoa pot from the heat, and let stand. Stir corn and cilantro into chili. Fluff quinoa with a fork, and plate with a ladleful of chili on top. Serve with optional toppings like Greek yogurt, shredded cheese, or tortilla strips.
3. Rosemary Grape Pizza
Healthy pizza does exist, thanks to this recipe from Jennifer McDaniel, R.D.N., coauthor of Mediterranean Table Cookbook with Prevention magazine. “Just like red wine, grapes are a top source of resveratrol, the anti-inflammatory compound thought to support heart health by lowering bad cholesterol, improving healthy blood pressure, and reducing the risk for blood clots and blood vessel damage,” McDaniel says.
Photo: Jennifer McDaniel, R.D.N.
- 1 prepared whole wheat pizza crust
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup red or black seedless grapes, halved (to save time, buy sliced grapes from the salad bar at your grocery store)
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
What to do: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees or according to pizza crust directions. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine olive oil, rosemary, and kosher salt, and warm for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and set aside to steep.
Place pizza crust on a rimmed baking sheet. Brush crust with rosemary oil. Sprinkle grapes and pine nuts over crust, pushing grapes in a little bit. Generously top with remaining rosemary oil.
Bake for 10 minutes, or until crust has browned. Cool slightly before cutting and serving.
4. Quick Black Bean Tofu Scramble
Scrambles aren’t just for breakfast. “Meals based on vegetable proteins like tofu and beans can be more satiating than meals where the primary protein is meat,” McDaniel says. “Since they are loaded with fiber and plant proteins, they fill you right up.”
Photo: Jennifer McDaniel, R.D.N
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- ½ onion, chopped
- ½ red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 package extra firm tofu, drained and dried
- 1 cup cooked black beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 cups baby spinach
- Salt and pepper
What to do: In a small bowl, mix together turmeric, cumin, and chili powder along with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Warm the other tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, then sauté garlic, onion, and bell pepper until softened, about 3 minutes.
While veggies are cooking, crumble tofu into bite-sized pieces, using a fork or your fingers. Add tofu, black beans, and spice mixture to the skillet, and sauté for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until everything is evenly coated.
Add in spinach, and continue to cook until spinach has wilted and tofu is slightly brown, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
5. Vegetable “Fried Rice” with Almond Teriyaki Sauce
This fried rice is a go-to quick, healthy dinner for Amy Gorin, R.D.N., owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in the New York City area. “The eggs provide protein to help keep me fuller for longer, and the dish is loaded with fiber-packed veggies,” she says.
Photo: Amy Gorin, R.D.N.
- 1 small package (10 ounces) frozen green beans
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 tablespoons slivered almonds
- 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium teriyaki sauce
- ¼ cup almond butter
- 2 cups precooked brown rice
- ½ teaspoon granulated garlic
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Cooking oil spray
- 4 eggs
What to do: Heat green beans according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large nonstick pan, sauté onion pieces in a thin layer of water. When onions become translucent, add almonds and teriyaki sauce. Add minimal water as needed; when liquid begins to absorb, mix in green beans and almond butter. Add rice to pan, mixing in garlic and cayenne pepper.
Meanwhile, spray a medium nonstick pan with cooking oil spray, and fry eggs. Divide vegetable-and-rice mixture into four bowls, topping each bowl with a fried egg.
6. Tuna Cannellini Tomato Salad
Looking to get healthier this year? You need this salad in your rotation. “Like all pulses, cannellini beans are packed with the satisfying combination of protein and fiber, and research shows that pulses are linked to weight loss, even when calories aren’t restricted,” say Lyssie Lakatos, R.D.N., and Tammy Lakatos Shames, R.D.N., authors of The Nutrition Twins’ Veggie Cure.
“The tomatoes, lemon, and parsley all contain vitamin C, which boosts immunity, while the tuna helps promote heart health with its omega-3 fatty acids,” Lakatos says. “Enjoy two servings [four tomato slices with topping] for a protein-packed, super-satisfying meal.”
Photo: The Nutrition Twins
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cans water-packed tuna, dried and broken into chunks (chunk light variety to keep the mercury down)
- 1 can cannellini beans
- ¼ cup parsley leaves, roughly chopped
- 8 thick tomato slices
- Balsamic vinegar, for finishing
What to do: In a medium-sized bowl, combine lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, and pepper to make dressing. Mix well. Add tuna, cannellini beans, and parsley to the bowl with dressing, and toss until combined. Plate tomato slices, and top with tuna salad. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar just before serving.
7. Open-Faced Mediterranean Veggie and Tuna Sandwich
Get creamy and crunchy textures at once in this easy-to-make, open-faced sandwich. “With 17 grams of protein and six grams of fiber, you will feel satisfied, and your blood sugar will be stable so you won’t immediately crave sugar,” Lakatos Shames says. “Plus, the avocado provides good-for-you fat while the veggies pack in extra antioxidants.”
Photo: The Nutrition Twins
- 1 slice whole wheat bread
- ¼ cup diced tomatoes
- ¼ cup diced cucumbers
- ¼ cup diced avocado
- ½ can water-packed tuna (chunk light variety to keep the mercury down)
- Salt and pepper
- Spray of olive oil
- ⅛ cup fresh arugula
What to do: Place bread in toaster, and heat until golden brown, around 350 degrees for 7 minutes. In a small bowl, add tomatoes, cucumbers, avocado, tuna, and salt and pepper to taste. Spray the olive oil, and mix until evenly distributed.
On toast, place fresh arugula first, then veggie-and-tuna mixture on top.
8. Mexican Sweet Potato Salad
It may be called a salad, but this is actually a warm dish that will hit the spot on colder evenings. “It packs in nutrients like cancer-fighting beta carotene with its sweet potatoes and red peppers, good-for-you monounsaturated fat from the avocado, and fiber and protein from the black beans,” the Nutrition Twins say.
This one requires a little prep work for the sweet potatoes, but it’s worth it because the rest of the recipe is easy.
Photo: The Nutrition Twins
- 4 precooked medium sweet potatoes (see below)
- 1 can non-GMO corn, rinsed and drained
- 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 red peppers, diced
- 4 green onions, chopped
- 1 medium avocado, chopped
Prep: Peel and cut sweet potatoes into ¾-inch slices. Microwave sweet potatoes one at a time, about 5 minutes each side, or until you can pierce with a fork. Once sweet potatoes are cooked through, quarter the slices.
What to do: In a large bowl, combine corn, black beans, red peppers, green onions, avocado, and sweet potatoes. Divide into three bowls, or portion out desired amount and save rest for later use.
9. Cheesy Cauliflower Rice and Sausage Skillet
“This rich yet healthy recipe is handy to keep in your back pocket for especially busy evenings. “It’s gluten-free and low-carb, but filling,” says Kelli Shallal, M.P.H., R.D., a dietitian based in Phoenix. “But the best part is that it’s ready in less than 10 minutes.”
Photo: Kelli Shallal, R.D.
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil
- 16 ounces fresh or frozen cauliflower rice
- 2 to 4 precooked sausages, sliced
- Salt, pepper, and garlic powder
- 2 cheese wedges
- 1 green onion
What to do: Add oil to a skillet. Turn skillet to medium-high, and add cauliflower rice. Sauté cauliflower rice for 3 to 5 minutes, until it begins to soften. Add sausages, and keep cooking until cauliflower is soft and sausages are slightly browned. Add salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste.
Take skillet off the heat, and stir in cheese until it melts and is evenly distributed. Garnish with chopped green onions.
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