Simplify your shopping list with these ridiculously simple muscle-building meals.
Toby Amidor, M.S., R.D. 1 / 11
It can be daunting to cook healthy, delicious meals. And sure, there are guys out there who enjoy whipping up culinary masterpieces for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
But for the rest of us mere mortals, we like to keep it simple. That's why we've created these 10 recipes, each of which requires only five ingredients (not including basics like salt, pepper, and cooking spray).
Start by making a shopping list for one or two of these meals. It'll be short, since you aren’t using many ingredients. When you’re done making your first few meals, come back to get more easy recipes.
Instructions: 1. Heat sesame oil in a sauté pan, skillet or wok. 2. Add sliced bell pepper and edamame and sauté for 6 minutes. 3. Add bok choy and soy sauce and cook for an additional 4 minutes, just until bok choy is crisp-tender yet bright green. 4. Place one-fourth of the edamame bok choy mixture in each bowl. Serve over brown rice.
Ingredients: 1 cup cottage cheese 1 cup old fashioned oats (gluten-free) 5 large eggs 1-2 teaspoons cinnamon 1 tablespoon maple syrup (optional)
Instructions: 1. Place all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. 2. In a large frying pan over low-medium heat, add a small amount of butter and pour about ¼ cup of batter, repeating until the pan is filled. 3. Cook until you start to see bubbles form, flip and cook for another minute or until golden brown on both sides. 4. Repeat until all batter has been used. 5. Top with your favorite toppings
Instructions: 1. Place chicken and cornstarch in a large re-sealable bag; close bag and toss to coat the pieces in cornstarch. 2. Heat oil in a large wok or skillet over high heat. 3. Add chicken and brown on both sides. Add soy sauce and cook for 1 minute before adding honey and sesame seeds. Continue to cook, tossing frequently until sauce is thickened and chicken is cooked through, 7 to 10 minutes. 4. Serve chicken wrapped in lettuce leaves and topped with desired toppings.
Ingredients: 16 oz lean ground turkey (80% + lean) 2 oz habanero cheese, part skim 4 100% whole wheat burger buns 4 oz grilled pineapple 1 grilled poblano pepper
Instructions: 1. Fire up your grill and get your burgers assembled! 2. Separate ground turkey into 4 even rounds. Divide each round into 2. 3. Using ½ ounce shredded cheese, place the cheese in between each 2 ounces of ground turkey. 4. Close patty halves onto one another, pushing the outside together to create an enclosed burger. Heat on your BBQ grill until done (165 degrees F). 5. Cool completely and store for your mid-week burger craving or serve immediately topped with your grilled condiments!
Nutrition Information (per burger) Calories: 300; Total Fat: 14 grams; Saturated Fat: 4 grams; Protein: 30 grams: Cholesterol: 113 milligrams
Recipe and photo by Elizabeth Ann Shaw, M.S., R.D., C.L.T. of Simple Swaps.
5. Smoked Trout Pasta Salad
This easy to make lunch or light dinner can be made with leftover whole grain pasta. Smoked trout is high in protein and helps lend a salty flavor to the dish which is balanced with fresh vegetables and avocado.
Recipe and photo by Robin Plotkin, R.D.N., of RobinsBite.
6. Pesto Parmesan Spaghetti Squash
Once you make spaghetti squash, you may not go back to eating pasta again. Cook the squash and slice it in half. The strands easily come out with a fork and (as the name implies) resemble strands of spaghetti.
Instructions: 1. Preheat oven to 375° F. 2. Meanwhile, use a fork to poke several holes in a medium spaghetti squash, then microwave until the squash becomes slightly tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. 3. Cut squash in half, and remove seeds and membranes. 4. Rub the sides with olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. 5. Place halves with cut sides down on a nonstick baking sheet. Bake until the squash is tender, about 30-40 minutes. Remove from the oven, and set aside to cool. 6. Lower the oven to 250° F. 7. Place pine nuts on a nonstick tray, and lightly toast for 8-10 minutes. 8. Once squash is cooled, use a fork to shred the squash into a large bowl or dish. 9. Combine squash with pesto, pine nuts and ¼ cup Parmesan. Top with remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan.
Recipe and photo by Amy Gorin, M.S., R.D.N., a dietitian in Jersey City, NJ, and owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition.
7. Hawaiian Omelet
Protein-packed eggs can be eaten at any meal. This creative omelet uses pineapple mango salsa and Canadian bacon for a balance of sweet and salty flavors. And while eggs do contain cholesterol, studies show that it doesn't influence your body’s cholesterol levels as much as once thought—that's why the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans once again include eggs as a recommended food.
Ingredients: 2 eggs 1 tablespoon water 2 slices Canadian bacon, diced 1/4 cup pineapple mango salsa (or 1/4 cup diced pineapple) 1/4 cup shredded part skim, low fat mozzarella cheese 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt Grind of black pepper
Instructions: 1. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the water, salt and pepper - whisk again until light and fluffy. 2. Ready all your ingredients beside the stove. 3. Heat a small saucepan over medium high heat until it's very hot, but not scorching. Remove the pan from the heat and liberally spray it with non-stick vegetable spray - bottom and sides. 4. 4. Return the pan to the heat and add the eggs. 5. Swirl the eggs around in the pan so that they coat the bottom and go half way up the sides. 6. Continue this swirling process over the heat until the eggs have mostly set and they are no longer runny. 6. Sprinkle the Canadian bacon onto one half of the eggs. Sprinkle the cheese over the bacon and then top with salsa or pineapple. 7. Using a very thin and flexible spatula (a fish spatula if you have one), carefully fold the omelet over on itself and lightly press with the spatula. Continue to cook for 30 seconds or so, holding the top of the omelet in place. Remove from heat and slide the omelet onto a plate. Serve.
White beans contain a healthy combination of carbs, fat, and protein. Paired with avocado and tomato, this is a well-balanced filling meal. If you’re looking to add a touch more flavor (and only one more ingredient), add ¼ cup packed torn basil leaves to the blender when making the smashed white beans.
Ingredients: Smashed White Beans: 1 (15 oz) can Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed 1 tablespoon olive oil Salt and black pepper 1 avocado, thinly sliced 1 large heirloom tomato, thinly sliced 4 large slices sourdough bread, toasted Salt and black pepper to for garnish
Instructions: 1. Place ½ of the white beans into a food processor with the olive oil and pinch of salt and pepper. Pulse a few times until mostly combined. Add in the rest of the beans and pulse together 2-3 more times to incorporate the beans while keeping some texture. 2. Toast the sourdough bread. 3. Smear on white bean mixture and top with tomato slices and avocado. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper.
Recipe and photo by Alexandra Caspero M.A., R.D., C.L.T., R.Y.T. of Delish Knowledge.
9. Loaded Baked Potato
If you pack a baked potato with high-quality toppers, it can be a healthy meal that only takes 10 minutes to whip up. This version uses high-protein cottage cheese along with antioxidant-packed spinach and marinara sauce.
Ingredients: 1 medium baking potato ½ cup low-fat cottage cheese 1 cup baby spinach ¼ cup marinara sauce 1 tablespoon mozzarella cheese
Instructions: 1. Pierce potato several times with a fork. Microwave for 4 minutes. 2. Meanwhile, stir together cottage cheese, baby spinach, and marinara sauce. 3. Slice the potato open, stuff with cottage cheese mixture, and sprinkle with cheese. For an Italian flare, sprinkle a dash each of dried oregano and basil. 4. Then microwave 1 minute more until heated through
A tasty fish dish may seem impossible, but this is one of the easiest recipes around. Four ingredients get mixed in a bowl, poured over the fish, and then baked. It’s a simple way get a healthy dose of protein and inflammation-lowering omega-3 fats.
Ingredients: Cooking spray 1½ pounds salmon fillet 1 tablespoon orange juice (I used freshly squeezed) 2 tablespoons maple syrup 2 tablespoons grainy Dijon mustard 2 teaspoons minced garlic
Instructions: 1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray appropriately sized baking dish with cooking spray and lay salmon fillet in dish, skin side down. 2. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together orange juice, maple syrup, mustard, and garlic. Pour sauce over fish and cover with foil. 3. Bake for 15 minutes. Uncover, and bake another 5 minutes until top of fish is caramelized and fish is cooked through.