These 3 meals are healthy, delicious, easy to make—and will help you drop fat all day long.
Toby Amidor, M.S., R.D. 1 / 4
No one food will melt away your fat—only a well-balanced healthy weight loss plan, along with plenty of exercise can help you do that. However, numerous studies have pinpointed several foods that can assist in your fat blasting efforts.
A 2014 study found that dark green vegetables (like kale and spinach), plus orange and yellow vegetables (like carrots and sweet potatoes) are linked to decreased body fat, specifically belly fat. Researchers examined 175 study particpants and found that those who ate more orange, yellow, and green vegetables had 17-percent less belly fat compared to those who did not eat these vegetables.
What's more, a recent study published in Nutrition Metabolism and Cardiovascular Disease found that a diet that contains higher quality foods (like fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, seeds, yogurt, and less-processed meat) is associated with less belly fat, and can also help decrease the risk of diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.
So, we're bringing you a day's worth of meals—a breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipe—that includes foods that can help you shed those love handles. Each recipe includes fat-blasting foods like sweet potatoes, Greek yogurt, quinoa, broccoli, carrots, peppers, tomatoes, kale, and sesame seeds.
These three meals contain a total of 1,220 calories with 65 grams of protein. To add more calories and protein to your "perfet" eating day, add a protein shake mid-morning and a protein and healthy-fat rich afternoon snack. Since everyone has varying calorie needs based on height, weight, and activity level, you need to judge how much more to add in-between meals. If you are unsure, you can always find a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) to help guide you. To find a credentialed RDN in your area go to EatRight.org and click on “Find an expert” in the green box.
Ingredients: 1 medium sweet potato, baked, skin removed ¼ teaspoon cinnamon ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract 2 tablespoons powdered peanut butter (optional) ½ teaspoon sugar of choice (optional) 1 tablespoon crushed peanuts (optional) 1 cup vanilla or plain Greek yogurt (divided into ½ cups)
Instructions: 1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and bake sweet potato for 20-30 minutes, or until soft. Remove and let cool. 2. Remove skin and whip sweet potato using electric mixer. Add in cinnamon, vanilla, peanut butter and sugar, if desired. Stir in 1 tablespoon of crushed peanuts. 3. Divide into half portions and place in bottom of small jar. Top each with ½ cup Greek yogurt of choice. Top with crushed peanuts.
Ingredients: 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa (or 1½ cups cooked) 1 cup uncooked black beans or 1 (15 oz) can 1 large sweet potato ½ cup cashews (or 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds) 1/2 to 1 cup water ½ teaspoon garlic powder ½ teaspoon onion powder 1½ teaspoons dill ½ teaspoon celery seed Black pepper and salt (to taste) ¼ teaspoon cayenne (optional)* 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (optional) 1 large bell pepper (chopped) 2 cup carrots (chopped) 2 cup broccoli (chopped) 1 large tomato (chopped) 8-10 cups of spinach (or other green leafy veggie)
Instructions: 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 2. Wash and dice the sweet potato. Place it in the oven and cook until soft (30-40 minutes). *Option to also put the sweet potato in the oven whole. Allow it to cook for 10-15 minutes, then take it out and let it cool. Then dice the sweet potato and put it back in. This method is great for those who dislike dicing raw sweet potatoes. 3. Combine 1 cup water with 1/2 cup of uncooked quinoa. Bring to a boil and then reduce to medium heat. Allow to cook until the liquid has cooked off (about 15 minutes). 4. If using the slow prep method, combine 1 cup uncooked black beans with 3 cups water. Bring to a boil and then reduce to medium heat until beans are soft (about 30 minutes). 5. In a blender, combine the cashews (or pumpkin seeds) with water, garlic powder, onion powder, dill, celery seed, salt and pepper. If using the cayenne and apple cider vinegar, you can add these too. (Note: the cayenne and apple cider will make the dressing taste a little less like ranch, but it’s still tasty!) Start with less water and add more as needed. Blend the ingredients together until smooth. 6. Wash and chop the rest of the veggies. Layer all ingredients into 4 bowls. Toss with creamy dressing and serve!
Nutrition Information (per bowl, using cashews) Calories: 460; Total Fat: 11 grams; Protein: 21 grams: Carbohydrates: 75 grams; Fiber: 17 grams
Recipe and photo by Kristina DeMuth, MPH, RD, LD with Blue Cure, a non-profit on a mission to prevent prostate cancer and improve outcomes for those with cancer.
Ingredients: 1 tablespoon sesame oil or olive oil ½ cup red onion sliced thin 3 cloves garlic, minced 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger , plus 4 slices fresh ginger, or ¼ teaspoon ginger powder, plus dash of powder 4 cups kale, torn or roughly chopped, stems cut into ¼-inch slices ½ cup vegetable or chicken broth 1/8 cup low sodium soy sauce, plus 4 teaspoons ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved 1 pound salmon filet, cut into 4 portions 4 thin slices of lemon 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds or toasted slivered almonds
Instructions: 1. Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. 2. Add onions and sauté until softened. Add ginger and garlic, sauté another minute. Then add kale, using tongs to quickly turn and coat the leaves with oil. Add broth, soy sauce and red pepper flakes, continuing to turn the mixture. 3. When kale is just wilted, add tomatoes and place salmon portions directly against skillet bottom and top with 1 slice each of ginger or dash of ginger powder, and lemon. 4. Top each portion with a teaspoon of soy sauce. 5. Cover skillet and cook about 6-8 minutes depending on thickness, until salmon is done. 6. Serve salmon on bed of kale and tomatoes, sprinkle with sesame seeds and additional red pepper flakes if desired.