MAKE: Crispy Garlic and Parmesan Zucchini Boats

Zucchini Boats | Photo by Becca Boyd

This 20-minute side dish has quickly become my favorite way to cook zucchini, which comes in mighty useful this time of year when, if possible, there are too many zucchini to deal with. The flavor combo of garlic, fresh herbs and parmesan cheese fills your kitchen with a smell that literally makes your mouth water, and when paired with the beautifully crunchy bite, it’s summertime eating at its finest.

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MAKE: Guilt-Free Zesty Chicken Burgers With Cilantro Cream Sauce

Zesty Chicken Burgers With Cilantro Cream Sauce | Photo by Becca Boyd

These are not the burgers you make when you have a crowd of 20 on short notice on a hot summer’s night. Those guests can eat their pre-shaped beef patties from the grocery story and be grateful you’re hosting them. These are “something to look forward to on a Tuesday” burgers. They’re healthy but amazingly flavorful and super simple to make.

You might take a quick look at my list of ingredients and deem it “too long,” but, conveniently, the sauce and the burger have almost the same ingredients (lime, onion, mayo and cilantro appear twice). If you don’t like spice then omit the jalapeno from the cream, but if you really like spice, chop that sucker whole without removing seeds/ribs (that’s where the heat is). Either way, the end result here tastes like something you’d order at a restaurant but, as is always the case, the healthiest food is the food you make at home.

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MAKE: Grilled Corn With Basil Butter

Grilled Corn with Basil Butter | Photo by Becca Boyd

For a tailgate or BBQ side, you can’t do much butter than grilled corn on the cob (see what I did there?). I mean, the grill’s hot, right?

By keeping the husks on, the corn steams a bit, which helps it to cook through before browning too much. The basil butter to go with this recipe can be made in about 30 seconds (except, you will have to clean your food processor, natch). Grilled corn is essentially just cooked corn, which is great — but it’s the basil butter that sets this apart. The butter can be made days ahead, and if you’re grilling already, save some water and throw your corn on the grates. Voila!

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Healthy Recipe: Lighter Spinach and Parmesan Dip

Lighter Spinach and Parmesan Dip | Photo by Becca Boyd

Now, when you read “Spinach and Parmesan Dip,” you probably picture one of those cheesy, warm, delicious spinach and artichoke dips. Those are stupendous, but this is not that. This is closer to hummus (in that it’s tasty, but also cold and healthy). But since hummus has become more of an everyday staple (hi, Dizengoff), I find it’s less exciting as an appetizer.

And just how healthy is this dip? Well, if you look at the ingredients you’ll see that it calls for 16 ounces of fresh baby spinach — that’s a huge giant tub — cooked down and pureed with just a bit of dairy (Greek yogurt and parmesan cheese) to make it smooth and dip-like. My point: there’s a crap-ton of spinach in here, people.

And this recipe gets bonus points because it’s healthier than your average spinach dip and versatile — when I wanted to zazz up some cooked chicken in my fridge, I tossed it together with leftover dip to make “spinach and parmesan chicken salad,” which was unbelievably amazing. Because this makes a large amount, you can get double usage every time; just buy chicken when you buy the dip ingredients and you’ll have lunch ready for the start of your week — not to mention the kind of app your friends will love you for.

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Make: The Noodle Bowl to End Your Healthy-Eating Rut

Rice Noodle Bowl | Photo by Becca Boyd

We all get in food ruts, and this can happen especially easily when healthy eating is your main objective. Grilled chicken breasts over salad greens is a wonderful standby, but we all know: It can get old fast. That’s where this noodle bowl comes in — it might be a bit outside of your comfort zone, but why not shake things up? A filling, warming bowl of fun-to-eat noodles and highly flavorful broth might be just what you need in these last days of spring.

You may see a few ingredients you don’t typically buy, but don’t worry, you’ll be making this again soon and can you use them again then.

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Recipe: Blackened Fish Tacos with Avocado Cream

Blackened Fish Tacos with Avocado Cream | Photo by Becca Boyd

As someone who is just “eh” about fish, I will be writing this spice rub on a post-it and putting it on the back of my cabinet door; no more boring fish in my house. The spice rub and the avocado cream sauce are really what makes these great; if you’d like to sub out different toppings, feel free. These have some solid heat, but if you want more, add sliced jalapenos on top.

When it comes to prep, don’t want to chop up a head of cabbage? Buy a bag of coleslaw mix. Do you eat gluten-free? Sub corn tortillas. This would be a perfect meal for company — let them dress their tacos as they like. You can do everything ahead except toasting the tortillas; just reheat that fish because nobody likes cold fish (or people described as cold fish).

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Make This: Chicken, Quinoa and Cashew Casserole

Chicken, Quinoa and Cashew Casserole | Photo by Becca Boyd

I love casseroles in theory; in actuality, they’re usually full of ingredients I avoid at dinnertime. I’m talking egg noodles, sour cream, canned soup, spice packets, etc. I also need it to be easy — I don’t want to cook each part separately then put it together just so I can call it a one-dish-meal. This recipe checks all the necessary boxes and it’s a dieter’s dream, full of protein and low in calories.

This would be great to make on a Sunday afternoon if your typical workday ends late. Scooped into bowls and reheated on Monday (and maybe Tuesday) and served with some mixed greens or veggies, it’s a beautifully healthy and easy meal. This would also be the ideal meal for a new mom or a family in need. Egg, dairy, and gluten-free (if you use GF hoisin and tamari), it can be made in a disposal pan and brought with a box of mixed greens (and a bottle of wine, because hello).

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Make: The Gluten-Free Banana Bread That Actually Tastes Good

Gluten-Free Banana Bread | Photo by Rebecca Boyd

Let me just say: As someone who can eat gluten-filled grains, I’ll never make another banana bread. The beauty in the gluten-free phase (while it certainly comes with its cons) is that we’re learning to cook with different grains and bake with different flours.

As someone who is always looking to fit in more protein and fiber, baking with almond meal is pretty much as good as it gets. In some recipes, it yields a grainy finish to your baked good, but not here. This bread comes together quickly (and easily — no mixer required!), rises beautifully, and was eaten in my house in 24 hours. I literally can’t wait to make it again.

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Make This: One-Skillet Citrus-Chili Shrimp and Green Beans

Citrus-chili shrimp and green beans | Photo by Becca Boyd

Citrus-chili shrimp and green beans | Photo by Becca Boyd

I’m a big fan of dishes where the meat and vegetables cook together in the same sauce. Typically I avoid short cuts (like prepared sauces) because they can be loaded with sugar, salt and preservatives, but frozen vegetables, when they work in a recipe, are fantastic timesavers. Why clean, trim and steam green beans when they come prepped (and are just as healthy)? You’re right: There is no logical reason.

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Recipe: 7-Ingredient Double-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Bacon

Double-stuffed sweet potatoes | Photo by Becca Boyd

Double-stuffed sweet potatoes | Photo by Becca Boyd

This right here is my version of comfort food (well, this and bacon cheeseburgers). That would be real food that comes together in a way that makes every single bite grin-inducing. If the hour roast time isn’t realistic for your weeknight schedule, I’ve got you covered: When you’re deep in your next Sunday Netflix binge, throw a bunch of sweet potatoes in the oven. Stored in Tupperware in your fridge, you’re just a reheat away from a ton of options, including this dish. Bonus: the dish only requires seven ingredients (excluding salt, pepper and cooking spray), most of which are probably in your fridge right now.

Though it can hold its own as a main dish, it’d be the perfect accompaniment to some grilled meat or fish. With temperatures rising, just send the grill master in your life outside and tell him or her you’ll meet them at the table, healthy decadence in hand.

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